Day 38: 478-493

Woke up this morning, had coffee and hitched a shuttle to the trailhead. Hugged Teri Anderson (trail angel) goodbye and ascended a super steep climb.

Goodbye photo at CDL

Goodbye photo at CDL

I only planned to do 10 miles today but ended up doing 15. I am starting to get into a rhythm where I get up early and knock out 7-10 miles, take a super long break to air out my feet and stretch, and then finish up a few more in the afternoon. My knee, thankfully, has been cooperating. The water availability along the trail is forcing me to do longer days than my 10 mile/day plan. Otherwise I have to carry 10lbs of water which sucks.

Mid day break under the trees

Mid day break under the trees

Throughout the day I have been at pace with a few other hikers that are becoming familiar faces. One dude named Ten Gallon, for his large Indiana Jones hat, passed me a couple times during the day. He was on pace to bag 30 miles this day to try and catch some friends he lost.

Ten Gallon has the gnarliest blisters I've ever seen on a hikers feet. He's been crushing big miles.  

Ten Gallon has the gnarliest blisters I've ever seen on a hikers feet. He's been crushing big miles.  

I pulled into an abandoned campground called Upper Shake Camp, it was a little creepy. Coming off of the trail, it was a 1 mile/500 foot descend down into it. Having to do steep downhill after hiking all day just so I could get water was demoralizing. I got there and ran into a few folks I have seen along the trail, including Ten Gallon. The wind is totally howling through the trees. After dinner I was so tired I decided to cowboy camp.

I laid under the stars thinking about home, ELACC, family...everything. Tomorrow is going to be a brutal water carry. I may have to hike 15 miles again too.

Cowboy camping and watching the sun disappear  

Cowboy camping and watching the sun disappear  

Day 37: 468-478

Last night I slept on top of a mountain ridge overlooking Lake Hughes. The power lines dropping deep into the canyon traversed right over the top of me. The sound of high voltage traveling through them all night coupled with the flapping wings of a million mosquitos trying to get into my tent kept me up for a while. I listened to the entire season of the S-Town podcast. It was amazing, beautiful, and sad. I highly recommend it.

sleeping under powerlines is fun

sleeping under powerlines is fun

This morning I got up at 5 and packed up my crap, did some stretches and headed up and over the top of another mountain. It was HOT. By 7am it was already 80 degrees. My knee started to ache while ascending and I immediately began to doubt my abilities. I hate that this injury plays tricks with me. It went away and I kept hiking. It's all a mental game. I listened to a few podcasts about the Russian Revolution/Civil War. It affirmed what I already knew: Russians are crazy AF.

By 10am I had already hit my day's goal - 10 miles. Knees were solid, and I was acutely ripe smelling. I got down to the highway and immediately was picked up by a trail angel from Casa Del Luna. CDL is a trail angel's house in Green Valley. They host about 50-60 hikers a night. You have to wear a Hawaiian shirt that they provide in order to stay. I think it helps them weed out non hikers. They fed us pancakes for breakfast and taco salad for dinner. I sat around all day with some folks from Alabama and Kentucky and drank a couple cases of Coors. I hate Coors.

It's pretty amazing that people so generously open up their house and massive forest yard to thru-hikers. Their backyard has an outhouse and shower, and a labyrinth of beautiful manzanita trees. You just pick a spot and set up your tent, where ever you want.

the Andersons "Casa De Luna" front yard. Chairs, coolers full of beer, and smelly people.

the Andersons "Casa De Luna" front yard. Chairs, coolers full of beer, and smelly people.

I feel good, but remain skeptical and untrusting of my knee, but so far I have felt pretty good and I'm doing miles fairly quickly. I have to remember that I cannot just start crushing big miles yet, even though my brain wants to. Tomorrow I'm going to do another 10 more and try to find somewhere to sleep during the day, cause it's supposed to be another scorcher.

On a separate note: I think about my friends and loved ones all the damn time. I miss everyone and wonder what they are doing at that very moment. I feel incredibly lucky to have people I care about so much. The grass is greener.

truth to power

truth to power

 

 


Day 36: 456-468

Today was a good day, finally. It was my first since getting injured. Woke up this morning and got a ride up to Agua Dulce by my wonderful partner, Jessica. I was naturally super nervous about how it would go down for me on the trail. I kept imagining doomsday scenario where I get some kind of horrible injury. My confidence was shot.

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It was a super hot day, reaching 90 degrees by 10:30 am. Gave jessica a hug and a kiss and I set off. I had only planned to do 5-8 miles today but as I kept hiking, I realized that the terrible pain I had anticipated never came. Except for a sore right foot, which is normal. I ended up climbing two mountains and covering 12 miles. My technique is different. I'll hike 2-3 miles and then take an hour rest break. I also have been stretching frequently and rolling out my ITB when I can. I feel good. But this is precisely the time when I need to keep focused and take it easy, and not get too confident.

I'm camped up on the top of a mountain, overlooking Lake Hughes - which was completely empty last year due to drought. Now it's full and glistening. What a perfect way to end the day. Made some friends too.

Climbing? Yes.  

Climbing? Yes.  

Tomorrow I'm going to try for a 10 mile day and stay at the Anderson's house. They are trail angels. Word on the street is they have pancakes and beer for PCT hikers, and they let folks camp in their backyard.

I feel so so so grateful for having the chance to experience a full hike day with no pain. Thank you to the powers that be.

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Sunset over Lake Hughes. My first night back.