Day 10

May 8, 2018

Bushcamp (84.71) to Bushcamp (98.0)
13.29 miles

A cold sandwich. A whole grain sub, piled high with crunchy lettuce, juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumber, spicy onions, and sweet bell peppers. With avocado spread on both sides, and plenty of oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, and a little mustard. It’s the only thing I dream of…

~

The day off was great for my feet. It wasn’t great for my motivation to wake up early though. By 6:30am the sky was already bright and hikers were on the trail strolling past our tent. One of them was kind enough to yell out at us that we needed to get up before it got too hot. I had to stifle a groan, both because I knew he was right and because I knew it wasn’t going to convince me to get up. The tent was too comfy and our spot was nice and soft. I was committed to hiking a bit in the heat and no one was going to convince me otherwise.

When we did finally get up it was definitely hot out. Out of nowhere the tent became unbearable and I was ready to go. We had about 6.5 miles to get to our next water, where we were also planning on taking our siesta.

The heat was brutal though, and it slowed us down a lot. I decided that everyone who said it didn’t get too hot until 11 was a liar because it was only 9 and I was already dying.

It’s amazing how fast your requirements for comfort will go out the door when you don’t have any choice. Walking on the Western side of the mountain was always a relief. Even when it was in full sun, you could feel the difference in how long it had been exposed. The Eastern sides had been baking since sunrise, and the heat coming off the ground was much more intense than on the Western sides, which had gotten a couple more hours of shade.

Shade. Any shade looks magical. You begin scrutizing shrubs and cliff sides from a distance to determine if there might be shade waiting for you. You measure the sun in the sky to guess which areas of the trail are likely to offer more options. It’s always a risk when deciding where to stop though. Sometimes you see a spot that’s just ok and decide to push on, only to find the next mile and a half barren of any relief. Other times you decide it’s just not worth the risk and sit down, but when you get up and continue on you turn the corner to an amazing spot of shade and curse the fact that you didn’t keep going. We got really lucky once and sat down on the ground in a pretty bad place, but then 30 seconds later we saw a couple emerge from around the corner. They had been much further ahead of us than that, so we knew they must have stopped in a shady spot just ahead. We grabbed our packs and hurried up around the corner and were thrilled to see both shade and rocks to sit on.

The other luxury that you soon stop caring about is cold water. Each sip through my water bladder was hot in my mouth. I didn’t care though. I had only one requirement, and that was that it was wet.

The landscape didn’t change too much as we continued on. It was mostly brown hills with lots of shrubs and cacti. Some of the cacti have really pretty flowers sprouting from the tips of them. They’re mostly pink or yellow, and they bring some much needed color to the scenery.

When we got close to the 3rd gate water cache the bushes started turning into small trees. All over were spots of shade, and we excitedly started pointing out potential spots for our siesta. Right before the gate was a group of three lounging in the shade.

“Is the 3rd gate water cache nearby?” I asked, hoping for some direction or a time estimate. I knew it was a bit off the trail and preferred to just ask rather than pull up the map. My bladder was down to it’s last steaming hot sips, and Stanley had the bad luck of getting a hole in his, so we weren’t interested in wasting any time getting to that water cache. I think that’s why the hiker’s next words were especially devastating.

“It’s just around the corner, but it’s empty”, the first hiker told us.

I stopped in my tracks and my jaw went slack. We’re going to die, I thought. My brain raced through the possibilities. The next water was 10 miles away. We would have to wait til dark and take it very slow. Maybe someone would be able to spare just a tiny bit. Maybe I could try breaking open some of these cacti to see if water would come out. I had a thousand thoughts in an instant, and none of them were good.

“I’m just kidding there’s at least a hundred gallons!” the hiker quickly yelled. Only a split second had passed, but my nerves had been shaken. The hiker apologized over and over, quickly realizing how not funny his joke had been. His two friends looked at him like he had just said something terribly dirty. I laughed as relief flooded my body, but I don’t think he’ll try that one again. He had seen the utter fear on my face. He almost tried to remind me that we weren’t supposed to rely on water caches, but this is the only one recognized as reliable by the PCTA. In a 25 mile stretch without any other water, it’s one that every hiker counts on.

We were quick to leave the three hikers behind and pass through the gate. On the other side were even more people lounging in the shady areas, including the old man who we stood with in Julian while waiting to get a hitch back to the trail. He was kind enough to tell us to leave our packs here in the shade and just bring our water bottles because the cache was a ways down.

We found a semi-decent spot and dropped our packs. It wasn’t the best spot, but we wanted to get to that water, and we could spend more time finding a better place later.

I was glad for the warning to not bring our packs. It was steep in areas and further off the path than we thought. I think Stanley was just about to lose his mind with thirst when we finally spotted the cache.

And what a cache it was. Crates and crates of gallon sized Costco bottles hidden in the shade and covered with tarps. There was a huge net for putting empty bottles, and even a foot care kit. All over were signs to only take enough water to make the next 10 miles and to use only what foot care materials you needed to get to Warner Springs. Apparently it’s really difficult to get to the cache to resupply everything. Whoever manages this cache is a true gem.

We sat and guzzled water as soon as it was in our bottles. It was nice and cool from being in the shade, and we took our time filling our bottles and enjoying not having to wait to filter it. We were careful to only take our 3 liters each though. I would hate for a hiker to one day arrive and find it really was empty.

We made the slow walk back up to our packs. Even without the weight it was still steep and the heat was relentless. We got to our shady spot and tried to put up our tarp for extra shade, but I wasn’t satisfied. I was soon back up to look for a new spot. We were going to be there for several hours, so I figured it would be worth moving if there was a better spot.

On my way out I made the mistake of walking too close to a cactus. I was rewarded with several spines in my leg. It had happened once before, but this time I also made this unwise decision of just trying to pull them out by lifting my pants away from my skin. This only resulted in the needles going through the cloth and now being on the inside of my pants, with me having to continue holding my pants away from my legs so they wouldn’t push the needles further in. Stanley had to come help me as I reached down my pants to get them all. They’re so small they don’t really hurt, but I hoped no one would walk by to see me awkwardly reaching down my pants and pulling stuff out.

When I was clear of needles again I continued on my quest to find the perfect shade. Most spots were just a little too small, but as I was wandering the old man saw me and asked if I was looking for a spot. He said he was about to leave and offered me his. I thought he must be crazy. It was the hottest part of the day. How could he be leaving right now? He said that he had camped there last night and was ready to do his 10 miles to the next water. He was Australian and looked like he had been on the road for a very very long time. He wore a hat with a feather in it and no shirt, but put his pack directly on his leathery tan back. I momentarily worried that he would die on this trail, but he was obviously a weathered traveler, and probably better suited to this heat than I was. I hoped he knew what he was doing and wished him luck.

We spent the next few hours lounging under that tree, eating couscous, taking naps, and trying to catch up on writing. I was able to kick off my shoes and check on my blisters, happy to see that nothing had gotten worse. The one on my heel might even be turning into a blister finally.

At 3 a couple of girls sleeping nearby got up to leave, complaining about how hot it still was. We had already done almost 7 miles this morning, so we were content to wait a couple more hours until the heat actually faded.

At 5 we were ready to go and the air was much better. It was still hot out, but the sun was low enough in the sky that there were plenty of shady areas and the ground was starting to cool off.

I was ready to get into my groove, and had started really going, but I was soon startled to a stop. I was staring at my feet while walking. That happens sometimes, especially on steep inclines. I often have to remind myself to stand up straight and stop bowing my back.

While staring down I passed a big rock jutting out of the side of the mountain, leaving some space under it. As I walked by I saw too late the coils writhing under the rock as if it had just left the trail to go in hiding. I recognized those tan coils, just inches away from my feet.

“Snake!!” I whisper yelled as I scurried further along the trail, trying to get out of reach as quickly as possible.

I shouldn’t have said anything though. The first time we’d seen a rattlesnake I saw it ahead of us, so we had stopped immediately. Stanley had no way of knowing that this snake wasn’t ahead of us, so he reverted to the same tactic as last time. He stopped immediately. Right next to the snake.

“Go!!!!” I yelled loudly this time. “You’re right next to it!” His eyes became as wide as mine as he jumped into a jog to get away from the rock. We stopped a couple feet down the road to let our hearts slow down and go over the last few seconds. We went over the details of what we should be on the lookout for and what we would do if we saw another, but decided we had seen enough rattlesnakes for a lifetime already.

I told myself the snake was probably heading in for the night and that should mean the rest would be asleep soon as well. We continued on a little more confidently as the shadows grew longer and longer.

It must have been a good day for wildlife, because shortly down the road we also startled a dear from the path. It was the first dear we had seen, and I tried with little luck to get a picture of it as it continued up the hill deeper into the brush.

The next few miles went by quickly. Between 7 and 9 is my favorite time to hike. I love watching the sun go down over the mountains, and the cool air makes it easier to push longer distances without stopping.

We had picked a spot on our map at the 98 mile mark. It would leave us just 3 miles in the morning to more water, and an easy 11 mile day into Warner Springs.

As we got closer I started to get nervous. Every camp site we saw was already occupied, and I was worried our chosen spot would be as well. That was one problem with choosing to do night hiking this early on. You kinda had the last pick of camping if the area was crowded.

When we got to the 98 mile mark though, no one was there. In fact, we couldn’t find the site at all. We shone our headlamps around trying to see if maybe it was down off the trail in the brush, but had no luck.

We’d spotted a dry stream a few hundred feet back that we thought would make a decent area to set up our tent and made our way there. It was a little tight, but we made it work. It was past 9 by the time we actually crawled into our bags, and both too tired to cook anything. I stuffed a granola bar down my throat, hoping it would help a little.

Tomorrow we’ll make it to Warner Springs. Supposedly that’s the first sign that you’ll make it the whole way. I sure hope everyone is right. My body is already exhausted. I feel good though. I think I can do this for 4 months. If I don’t die first.

Day 9

May 7, 2018

Scissors Crossing (77.14) to Bushcamp (84.71)
7.57 trail miles

While hanging out with Nico he told us that eventually we’ll learn that we don’t have to keep a normal schedule out here. We should hike when the weather is best, which usually means early morning and evening. You don’t want to be out there in the middle of the day. He was right.

~

It was hard to leave the bed in the morning. We woke up early but stayed as long as we could. It looked like it was going to be hot outside, and the room had both AC and a ceiling fan. I didn’t want to leave.

My ankle still hurt just a tiny bit, and the blister on my heel looked pretty much the same. All the others looked to be turning into calluses or had disappeared during the time off. It was a relief to see that the rest had at least done some good.

We took our time packing up. I mean we took all the time we could, pushing it a little past checkout. The inn we were at was under renovation and workers had accidentally busted in our room four times already so we figured they clearly had no idea which rooms were supposed to be occupied or not. Waiting 15 minutes extra to check out wasn’t going to make a difference, and it didn’t.

We then walked across the street so we’d be on the right side to get a pick up. We didn’t have to wait more than 10 minutes before a woman pulled up in her pickup. She said she was only going to the city center of Julian, but we knew we would have an easy time getting to Scissors Crossing from there so we jumped in.

She was kinda cooky, and I briefly wondered if maybe she wasn’t the safest person to get a ride from. She flew through the roads with all the windows down and I hung on for dear life. She said she was heading to Julian for donuts that were only made on Mondays, and asked us weird questions about if there was any marijuana on the trail. I know there are those who do bring it, but I couldn’t tell if she was trying to find some or what. I was glad when the short 3 miles were over.

Once back on the main street of Julian we saw some other hikers who told us the best place to get picked up would be in front of the library, so that’s where we headed. When we arrived there was already an older man waiting for a pick up so we sat down a little ways away. I wasn’t sure if there was any hitchhiking etiquette. Like, do we need to wait for him to get picked up first since he was already there? Should we have gone further down the road?

Fortunately, someone with only enough room for one came by so he got picked up first anyways. Right after a car pulled up for us and it was time to go.

The owner of the vehicle was a man called “Professor”. He had done most of the PCT a few years ago and was hoping to do the whole thing next year after his retirement fund kicked in. He was also the man who took care of the Scissors Crossing water cache, so it was nice to meet him and get to thank him for helping so many hikers. He was on his way there to drop off more water when he picked us up, so when we got there we helped him unload the water from the car and load up more empty bottles.

When we arrived under the overpass there were already plenty of people laying out to wait out the sun. It was a little past noon by this point, so we decided we would join them. The desert outside looked unfriendly and unbearable. Sleeping some more sounded like a much better idea.

We didn’t actually sleep though. We had phone service still, so the internet quickly drew us in.

While waiting a girl started playing the ukelele, and it became an even more pleasant place to rest.

Tourguide also walked up and it was nice to meet her and tell her how we’d met her husband Wifetracker. She said she was actually waiting for him to come pick her up, and soon after he came driving up. He also brought a cooler full of coca cola and beer, and it was soon a party. They didn’t stay too long though, and we all settled down and went back to our resting places.

Professor came back a couple times to bring more water, as well as another gentleman who was just driving back and forth giving people rides. They both confirmed again what everyone else has been saying, that we need to go slow these first couple weeks. The miles will come. Make it to Warner Springs and we’ll be fine. Hike at night and take lots of breaks. It’s always reassuring to hear these words and know that we’re doing ok.

At 4 everyone started to get ready to head out. We ended up leaving around 4:15 and it still felt too hot. Our first stretch would be four miles straight uphill, and I was not looking forward to it. At Mom’s pie place our friends had told us they prefer the uphills, and I just don’t understand why. It must be a joint and blister thing.

We got going and the first couple miles were brutal. It was so hot and there was no shade. The uphill was also pretty steep. Eventually though the incline got more gradual and it didn’t feel so bad.

Just three miles in I felt a new hot spot and was determined to take care of it before it turned into a blister. When I took my sock off I was practically livid to see that it was already a full blown blister. I didn’t understand how it had been fine for the first 80 miles and now three miles after a day and a half rest it had just magically turned into a blister. It was the last straw for me. I said screw it, put on some moleskin with no gauze, downed a couple ibuprofen, and said let’s go. I was done letting these stupid little blisters ruin my miles. I could tough it out like everyone else.

Maybe it was my new attitude, or maybe it was the ibuprofen, but soon I felt great. The air was finally starting to cool down too and we started flying. The uphill finally felt manageable and didn’t wind me at all.

I loved looking around at all the different cacti. I remembered taking a picture with one a few days ago because it was so cool, but now they were everywhere. For some reason I just never imagined cacti being in California. I knew that if I had thought about it I would have said yes of course there would be, but I guess I just never thought about it. Deserts with cacti made me think of the Middle East or maybe the Sahara, not two hours away from home.

They were varied and quite fascinating. There were light colored ones that looked like lots of skinny fingers covered in needles growing up from the ground. There were ones that looked like flat green disks connected together a few at a time and stayed low to the ground. There were a few that were tall and brown and thick. They looked like what a child would draw but without either of the arms. There were some that looked like they might be aloe plants, and Doctor Seuss looking ones that were like small spikey bushes with a large stalk covered in flowers reaching up tall above us. Those last ones we’d seen before, and they are so weird.

We were hoping to do some night hiking this night, so even as the sun went down we kept on moving. The hills were cast in stark relief to the sky as the sun dipped below them. The sky was a pretty shade of pink and light blue, but I tried not to look up too much because it made the ground seem that much darker.

We went as long as we could without using our headlamps. The dusky light lasted much longer than we thought it would. The North Star was visible almost as soon as the sun went down, and we had fun determining our direction in the hills based off of it. We were heading slightly northeast for the most part, but would turn directly north once in a while.

Before long one side of the hill was darker than the other, and we’d hurry around the bends to try to get to the lighter side. We were on steep cliffs again, and Stanley was already getting nervous about traveling them in the dark, so we were trying to get as many miles in as possible before we might be forced to stop.

Around 8:30 we finally put our headlamps on, but we went only another half mile before Stanley called us to stop. He had already slipped twice and it just wasn’t worth continuing. We set up our tent in a soft sandy spot that was a river bed during the wet seasons.

We can set up our tent in about three minutes now, and were crawling in before no time. We decided to treat ourselves to the last of our Spanish rice. It’s our favorite, and I can’t wait to pick up more in Warner Springs.

Warner Springs is less than 25 miles away now. That’s just about two days, and I can’t wait. I think it should be kind of like Lake Morena, with a large area for PCT hikers and showers and laundry. I hope there’s showers and laundry, even if they’re just buckets. It’s so dusty out here we’re dirty immediately. When it mixes with sweat it’s even worse.

We’ll have about 6.5 miles to do tomorrow to get to our next water, where we’ll probably siesta again until it cools down. I’m thinking I like hiking at night much better, but we’ll have to get off these steep hillsides before we’ll be able to do much of it. I’m happy to be back on the trail though. We opened a window and looked out at the stars as we drifted into sleep.

Day 8

May 6, 2018

ZERO DAY!!!!

This is going to be a short update because we had a glorious zero day. We weren’t intending on having a zero, but when we woke up we found we weren’t quite ready to leave.

The first problem was that our clothes weren’t dry. None of them. We realized too late we should have turned the AC onto heat and that probably would have helped.

My blisters were a bit better except for the one on my heel. It still hurt and wasn’t in a good spot for either of my shoes.

I was also a little distraught to find my right ankle was hurting when I stood on it. It wasn’t swollen, which was a good sign, but had me very worried.

Lastly, our hands were burned. Ok, this was a silly excuse. Honestly, they were probably all excuses and tougher hikers would have just pushed on.

We jumped on the idea of a zero though and didn’t look back. Writing about it now I feel it was definitely the right choice.

We watched Netflix and ate a bunch of food. We used the Keurig machine to heat water so we didn’t have to use our stove fuel. I took yet another bath and shower. My feet revelled at not walking and my sweat glands appreciated the break as well.

I was able to talk to my parents more and they’re sending me some new shoes. I caved and went for the Altra’s like Stanley has. Hopefully the extra big toe box will help stop the blisters, though I’m a tad nervous the new shoes will just cause new blisters elsewhere. We’ll see though. Both of our parents have been so supportive and helpful. So many people have in fact. It’s been so amazing and humbling.

I was also able to plan out some possible itineraries for the next few days depending on how the feet feel. Right now I’m ready to get going again. The excitement is back, and the rest was well worth the day off the trail.

Day 7

May 5, 2018

Rodriguez Spring Road (68.43) to Scissors Crossing (77.14)
8.71 trail miles

I think it’s time to get a little real about the trail. Most of the time everything is amazing and beautiful and there’s nothing but adrenaline and endorphins running through your body. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though. Sometimes it’s rough. Really rough. Today was one of those days.

~

I woke up feeling bad. I shouldn’t have stayed up so late, and I definitely should have passed on the liquid calories last night (aka alcohol). I didn’t have enough sleep, and my foot wasn’t happy.

My right foot must be larger than my left foot, because that’s where all my problems are. I was up to 5 blisters now, and this was quite upsetting. I feel like I’ve been careful and slow, and it seems like it didn’t matter at all. All my blisters were small, but they seemed to just keep coming. I wondered if it would have just been better to push myself like everyone else and get them all out of the way or something. I know that’s not how blisters work, but it felt like it.

This morning I was also starting to feel the mental drain. As much as you tell yourself it’s going to be hard and hot and gross and painful, you just don’t know how you’re going to handle it until you’re out there. And I won’t go into details about this last part, but let’s just say that there are also certain times when it’s just a little more difficult being a woman on the trail.

So this morning culminated into an uncomfortable, painful, emotional mess. We’ll just call it a cryfest, because I feel like I was crying for about an hour straight trying to get my head and body ready to continue on. Nico was extremely kind, giving me fruit and some moleskin for my blisters. He also offered to give us a ride into town the next day if we wanted to zero there at our camp and hang out. I wanted to keep going though, so we went through the slow and monotonous tasks of breaking down camp. After a long time packing up with lots of breaks to sit in the shade, it was eventually time to go.

We had almost 9 miles to get to the road where we would have more water and be able to hitch into the town of Julian. Hitching was also something I wasn’t excited about, since I had never done it before.

The walk was long and slow. And hot. Very, very hot. It was rough going, and I didn’t even remember to turn on my tracker, let alone take any pictures. As I walked I kept wondering if this was the part of the hero’s journey where I would question my decision, face my hardest challenge and want to give up, but hopefully to come out victorious on the other side. I knew it wasn’t though. I didn’t want to give up, I just wanted a break. I know there will be a day when I really do want to give up, and I don’t look forward to whatever challenge I’ll be facing that will bring me there.

I saw lots of lizards again. After the snake from yesterday I was especially wary every time I saw their scaley movement. When I told Stanley about how all the lizards were startling me I was surprised by his response.

It turns out he had only seen a handful of lizards. I was shocked, since I must have seen hundreds it felt like. I realized though that I was always in the lead, so I was always the one that came across them and scared them into the shrubs. By the time Stanley walked past the same spot they were already hiding. It was weird that I hadn’t thought of it before, and I mulled over what differences in experience we were having just based on who was leading.

Eventually we got to the road. It was a huge relief. I was feeling a little better with some ibuprofen in me, but I could tell I needed a break. We were so hot and uncomfortable, we were already deciding we wouldn’t mind spending the night in Julian. We also had service again, which was nice.

We were lucky in that we got picked up for a hitch immediately. They were a couple of archaeologists doing some surveying in the area. We learned about how they were hired any time there was big development in the area to come out and make sure it wouldn’t disturb any important sites or natural resources. I was happy to sit back and enjoy the AC while they talked.

They dropped us off in Julian and we found a place to sit in the shade and check out where we could stay for the night. The only place open was another couple of miles down the road. We held off on booking it until we went to Mom’s to see if there were any other hikers there who might already have a room somewhere.

Mom’s is a pie place that will give PCT hikers a slice and a small drink for free if they show their permits. The entire town of Julian is very hiker friendly, so most hikers stop here.

We walked through the small town and enjoyed the familiarity of civilization. People were crowding the streets walking around and eating at all the small diners. It was Saturday and the place was super busy, which would explain why there were no rooms open.

When we got to Mom’s we had the pleasant surprise of meeting up with all of our friends from Mount Laguna. They had gotten there shortly before us and we all sat together and enjoyed the food and some tea.

They told us they were staying the night with some creepy guy who had a trailer. He was also charging them all for rides back and forth from Julian, and for the place to stay and showers. We considered asking if he had more room, but they were already uneasy about it themselves, which made a hotel look even better.

Nightwalker was also there when we first arrived and we found out she was going to be staying at the hotel a couple miles down the road. This sounded more and more like the way to go, and before we left Mom’s we made up our minds and booked a room.

It makes sense now why everyone stops at all of the towns on the way. When I was planning this trip I thought it would be easy to just skip all the towns and stay on the trail. By the time you get to a town, though, you’re probably going to need to clean your feet at the very least and probably give yourself a little medical attention.

I was excited about the hotel. Very excited. We grabbed some first aid supplies and detergent from the market in town and started making our way towards the inn. We tried to hitch for a while, but the road didn’t have a great shoulder so we weren’t too hopeful. About a mile away though an older couple stopped to take us the last little bit. It was still appreciated.

We checked in and gloried in the nice clean room that we had all to ourselves this time. That of course meant stripping down and throwing all of our dirty clothes off immediately. It felt fantastic.

We spent the rest of the day doing chores, catching up on writing, and cleaning ourselves. I took a bath and a shower, which didn’t quite get all the dirt from my toenails. We also washed all our clothes in the tub as best as we could. After twice through the water was still pretty disgusting, but it was better than nothing. We hung all of our clothes around the room and messed with the AC.

Then it was time to relax. The room didn’t have cable but for some reason it had Netflix. We tried to watch some TV but had a hard time finding something interesting. I guess nothing seems that cool after being in the wild for a week.

Stanley also went to the store and we had a feast of potato chips, mashed potatoes, Spanish rice, and Oreos. I tried to eat as much as I could because I’m worried I’m not eating enough on the trail. I got to look at myself in a mirror and I was relieved to see I hadn’t burned through my fat stores yet. I gained 15 pounds for the trail because I know how easy it is to not eat enough especially the first few weeks.

Fed and clean with soft white sheets, it was an easy task to fall asleep that night. I dreamed of dry socks and sandwiches.

I know I didn’t take a lot of pics, but here’s one of Stanley enjoying his pie 🙂

Day 4

May 2, 2018

Long Creek Crossing (37.75) to Mount Laguna (41.47)
3.72 trail miles (yikes)

I set some rules for my hike before I left. I wouldn’t spend too much time in town because that’s where you spent money. I wouldn’t waste money on hotels. And I wouldn’t get caught up with other hikers who could convince me to go to towns. So how we ended up in a cabin on only our fourth night laughing with five other hikers I don’t really know.

~

I woke up miserable. At least, I would have if I had been able to fall asleep at all. It felt like I had been up all night trying not to die of hypothermia. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. I was tired enough in the morning that it didn’t feel like one though.

What’s worse was that it was still freezing and still wet. It wasn’t sprinkling so much as water was just hanging thickly in the air. Our tent was soaked. Our sleeping bags were soaked. We were soaked. I knew that this would be the case in Washington, but I thought I’d have some time to get used to breaking down camp wet, not have to go through it on my fourth morning.

Once again, we took a very long time getting on the trail. We were done trying to sleep around 6, but couldn’t convince ourselves to leave to warmth of our sleeping bags, as wet as they might be. I had to do a mad dash outside to use the bathroom when I could hold it no longer. I don’t think I was able to fully get warm again after that, and eventually we gave up trying to stay warm and decided the only warmth would be in moving.

My hands were numb and I fumbled with every clasp and every tie as we put away camp. It was slow going, but we finally made it out around 9:15. I had checked my blister and found it hadn’t receded in the night, so I had my river sandals on once again.

As we finally started climbing my body and mood wasn’t so bad. Going further yesterday meant we had an easy climb of not even four miles into Mount Laguna. I was hoping there was laundry there to wash my now muddy clothes. The climb wasn’t nearly as bad as everyone had made it sound. As we got higher into the mountains we marveled at the mist swirling around us. It reminded me of the cloud forests in the Andes in Peru, where I did my first “backpacking” trip three years ago. I didn’t have a horse to carry my equipment this time though.

At one point Stanley pointed out a large tree in the distance. We had seen plenty of shrubs so far, but not many trees, so it stood out in the fog. As I looked out towards it the mist played tricks on me and made the tree appear to be getting further away. It was the strangest trick of light that Stanley wasn’t able to see. As we kept going more trees started appearing in the distance. Each time the mist played the same tricks on me, making me a little dizzy and feeling like I was in a strange movie.

It wasn’t long before we were surrounded by trees and suddenly in a forest of evergreens. Stanley said the trees and the wetness made it feel like Washington. It was another change of scenery, and just as beautiful.

We hadn’t seen anyone all morning except one guy who snuck by us like a ninja, but about a quarter mile away from the turnoff to Mount Laguna we came across a SoBo hiker called Point. SoBo is what Southbound hikers are called, going from Canada to Mexico. Most people are NoBo’s like us though, chosing to start in Mexico for the longer hiking season.

Point was also from Washington and has been completing small sections of the PCT at a time. She was 64 and looked fantastic. She tried to give Stanley the trail name Salmon after mishearing his actual name, but he quickly vetoed it. It was only another quarter mile until the turnoff to Mount Laguna, where our “trouble” would begin.

Mount Laguna is a tiny town consisting of a campground, cafe, hotel/market combo, and a post office. There’s a fire station nearby as well, and everything is on one little road. Our plan was to check out the market for anything we needed, hopefully find a place to do a load of laundry, and get back on the trail.

The first building on the road was the cafe though, where Point had told us they had amazing food and were very hiker friendly. The ninja who had snuck by us was just coming out with a cup of coffee which looked amazing just sitting in his hands all nice and warm. I don’t even drink that much coffee, but the thought of holding it alone made me reconsider going in.

We stopped and chatted with the ninja while he waited and for his buddies and found out he was from Australia. He too had pushed himself harder than he liked in order to keep up with a group. See, groups are bad. His friends came up a short while later, and we introduced ourselves and shook hands. That is, until we got to the last guy, who kinda snobbily informed us that it was rude hiker etiquette to shake hands due to how dirty we all were. Oops. Now it made sense why Point fist bumped us when she left.

We decided that we might as well at least step into the cafe and see what they had. It couldn’t hurt to get out of the cold and figure out our next move. The group of guys headed in too, but we decided they weren’t really our type and headed for our own table.

We were going to just get a cup of coffee because the only breakfast they had were variations of eggs. Their entire menu was probably only ten items long, with breakfast served all day and lunch starting at noon. The vegan chilli caught my eye though, and it was 15 minutes until lunch. We easily decided that yes we could spare the $6 per bowl to stay in the small warm diner for a while.

It was delicious chilli. I’ve heard many times that all of their food is delicious, and the fact that they had a vegan option made them ok in my book.

Eventually we decided we needed to go check out the store and see if there was anything we needed. On the way out we passed two hikers who introduced themselves as Cat (maybe Kat?) and Nonuts. Nonuts is a German guy who got his trail name at Scout and Frodo’s when they had to make him his own separate meals because he’s allergic to nuts.

We explained as much as we knew about the town, including that the hotel might be around $70, which we’d heard from Point. We were heading that way to check out the store and told them we’d let them know what the deal was if we headed back this way.

Mount Laguna started off great with the cafe, but seemed to get worse as we headed down the road. There was supposed to be an actual hiking supply store, but it had been closed permanently for some time. The hiker box outside looked to double as a garbage can. There was a building that said it had a hotel, restaurant and bar, but everything was closed with a number to call if looking for a room. At the end we came to the Mount Laguna Lodge and general store. This looked more promising, which was good because aside from the post office and visitor center next door it was the end of the road.

We dropped our bags on the porch and stepped inside to start perusing the random shelves of souvenirs, hiking goods, and small grocery section. It was more expensive than a city grocery store, but not too bad. I took note of their options and grabbed a flyer for their hotel rooms before heading back outside.

It was here that I finally decided to check on my blister. It was not better. I was starting to worry a little when Becky from the day before came up in a car being driven by a friend of a friend who came to get her. It turned out her blister definitely had gotten worse and she needed to take a few zero days. That was exactly what I was afraid of, and was enough to convince me to go back inside and get a room. I do not want to break myself.

There weren’t any rooms available yet though, so the owner at the counter took my name and said to come back in an hour and check. He seemed to have kind of a bad attitude, but I couldn’t tell if it was in my head or not.

When we got back outside we grabbed our bags and headed back towards the cafe to tell Cat and Nonuts, and then head a little further to the fire station where we heard there might be WiFi. There was no service OR WiFi anywhere in the town. Not even in the hotel. There wasn’t laundry either, though the man at the counter said he’d give us a bucket. Ha.

As we walked we discussed skipping the hotel and just pushing on. I didn’t like how expensive they were and without laundry or WiFi it felt like a waste. We needed to decide soon though. If we were going to sleep outside again we needed to get off of this darn freezing mountain. It turned out we just got really unlucky and it was just randomly freezing for a couple nights, but would heat back up again by Thursday.

We stopped at the cafe to let the others know what was up and then headed to the fire station. I was able to make a quick call to my mom which was nice, and look over what our other options were. I kept going over and over the pros and cons to getting the hotel versus pushing on.

Pros to hotel: I would be able to sleep tonight out of the cold. I could sleep in a bed. I could let my blister heal instead of walking the 10+ miles to the next good spot. I could take a shower. I could explode my pack (take everything out) and dry everything that was wet from last night. I could even take some time to write and then walk back up to the fire station to post stuff.

Cons: It was $70. Also, if we stayed there was no way we’d get to Warner Springs by Friday. This meant we’d have to wait until Monday to pick up our resupply package that was being send there or send it forward. Also, we had been leaving the option open to have friends pick us up from there to spend a weekend camping at beerfest with them.

I was still debating on our way back down when it was decided for me. Out of nowhere my foot hurt. A lot. I didn’t even have my pack on. I knew if I kept walking it would pop or turn into a monster, and without laundry the muddy socks I was wearing would probably mean in got infected. I was frustrated but knew it was the right decision. Another nero day now was better than zero days later.

On our way back to the hotel we passed Cat and Nonuts once again, who had just put their name in for the hotel as well and were going to grab their packs. At least we weren’t the only ones. They also agreed the man behind the counter seemed grumpy.

When we got to the hotel I felt defeated. It didn’t help that there was still a wait for the rooms. We chatted with another guy from Germany, Manuel, who was also waiting for a room. He was going from the PCT to Nicaragua, to Costa Rica, to Peru. There are lots of interesting people on the PCT.

When the guy at the counter called Manuel in I went in as well because I figured our room would be ready too. While I was in there I listened as the man behind the counter told a new hiker that he didn’t know if there were enough hotel rooms, but there were plenty of cabins, which were just a few dollars more and could sleep up to four. That’s when a new idea came to me.

I grabbed the flier for the rooms again and snuck out before the man at the counter noticed me. As I waited for Stanley outside I noticed a redheaded girl had arrived and was sitting on the porch. I knew immediately who she was. “Are you Firecracker?” I asked. She looked up at me confused until I pulled my own red hair around and explained that several people had already mixed us up and thought I was her. “Oh are you JuliAnne?” she asked? We laughed at the fact that red hair seemed to suddenly make two people indistinguishable.

Firecracker was nursing a pretty bad blister on her ankle. It was in a terrible spot that no change of shoe could fix, and she was stopping for the night as well. Her and her friend Lumberjack ended up grabbing a cabin with someone they met on the trail named Lee. I watched her limp off towards their cabin and was again reminded why it was good to take care of my blister now.

When Stanley got out of the shop I told him the new plan and we headed out to find Cat and Nonuts once again. The hotel rooms were strictly for 2 people only, but if Cat and Nonuts weren’t opposed, we could save a bunch of money and get an actual cabin by splitting it.

We found them quickly and they immediately jumped on board. Now the plan to stay in seemed much better somehow. We all went back inside together to tell the man behind the counter our change of plans.

The guy behind the counter went from rude to insulting. First he insisted that Cat had come in with another man the first time. When she assured him that no she had been with Nonuts the whole time, but perhaps he had seen her talking to another friend she knew on the trail, the man behind the counter told her that that was how you become a girl with a “reputation”. Because somehow his mixup was her fault.

Then when we told him we’d like to all get a cabin together, he laughed at us for wanting to save the money. We pointed out that the cabin also came with a full kitchenette where we could cook without using our stove fuel, to which he pointed out the microwave in the hotels. I’m not sure he understood the difference.

Lastly, we pointed out that it would probably be better for his business for us to take a cabin since he had plenty of those left but no more motels, and it was still early and another freezing night so more hikers would probably want those rooms anyways. To this, he told us that all the “real hikers” had already moved on for the day.

“The real hikers? What does that make us?” Cat asked.
“Girls with reputations”, the man replied as he looked at us two girls.

I was shocked. But not quite as shocked as I was after we got our key and he followed us out to the porch to inform a few other hikers that they were in luck because we had all just given up our hotel rooms.

I honestly have no idea what was wrong with that guy. It’s like he was trying his hardest to kill his own business. It’s well known that PCT hikers are Mount Laguna’s main source of income. Perhaps he just knew that he could treat us poorly because he was the only hotel in town. Perhaps we should have called that other number on the closed building. Either way, it was clear that the man obviously hated his life. Happy people just aren’t mean like that. Maybe it was jealousy.

It certainly gave us all a bonding moment though as we angrily laughed about what that was all about and spoke about the scathing reviews we promised to post once we had service again.

The cabin was small but perfect. There was a queen bed and two twins, a full bathroom, a kitchenette, and a wood furnace in the corner.

We all went our separate ways for a little while to take care of chores like shopping for resupply, getting to the post office, and making check-ins at the WiFi spot. We dumped out all our food and decided we had made the mistake of bringing too much food and didn’t really need too much. I wanted sugar for the oatmeal and we grabbed another thing of pasta so I could eat as much as I wanted that night. It seemed everyone had brought or sent too much food because every hiker around town was asking each other if they wanted anything before it got put in the hiker box. We grabbed a couple more oatmeals, some rice noodles, and some pickles.

Once all our chores were done we all found ourselves back at the cabin chatting. We talked about the trail, about why we were all doing it. We talked about where we were from and what our plans might be after the trail. Cat has two teaching degrees but bartending pays better. Nonuts has a degree in Psychology and explained the difficulties of scientific research in Germany. Once again I couldn’t help but think how many cool people were on the trail.

After a while there was a knock on our door and Firecracker and Lumberjack joined us with a whole pie and a six pack of beer. We got a fire going and Cat pulled out one of her few luxury items, a pack of Uno cards. We were soon laughing and having a blast as we played one of the longest games of Uno ever.

After the first round we decided to play one more and Lumberjack went to go grab their roommate Lee to join. Lee had been a stock broker in New York before selling all of his things and moving to South America for three years. While training on the AT someone had given him the name Big Red, but I’m not sure if he was going to keep it.

The one more round of Uno turned into at least three. We stayed up until ten laughing and sharing stories and talking about the trail ahead. We spent a little time talking about water and camping options for the next day, and celebrated making our first 40 miles by burning the first page of my printed water report that we no longer needed.

I found myself glowing in the happiness that I’d heard you could find in the trail community. I could see how easy it would be to just hike with a group and have nights like this every night.

After Firecracker, Lumberjack, and Lee left we actually began solidifying plans for tomorrow and the spell of the group was slightly broken. Nonuts wanted to baby a cold he had picked up and only wanted to do 13 miles. Cat would probably go with him, while we were hoping to make it another 18 miles. They were also planning to stop in Julian, which we wanted to pass or make only a minimal stop in. Perhaps we’d all meet up in Warner Springs though, or somewhere else down the line.

After finalizing our plans for the next day we finished up our chores. This meant doing a little laundry for Stanley and I. The guy at the counter had not been joking about the buckets.

Bedtime also meant it was time for me to lance that blister so it could air out and heal overnight. I know it’s best to leave a blister in place, but I needed to be able to walk on it, and after comparing blisters with everyone else I felt I would be able to handle it. It was not my favorite task, but it also wasn’t as bad as I had imagined.

I made one last pot of pasta before heading to bed to write and get what I hoped would be an amazing night of sleep. Somehow I had woken up miserable and ended the day exactly the opposite. This experience has been everything I’ve hoped for so far, and I can’t wait for another tomorrow.

Not a lot of pictures today. I guess I was having too much fun 🙂

Day 3

Day 3
May 1, 2018

Lake Morena (20.23) to Long Creek Crossing (37.75)

17.52 trail miles

Not all inclines are created equal. Yesterday we had about 3.5 miles of incline to climb, and it was a little rough. Today we did over 17. It was cold and wet. My hands we’re freezing and my feet were muddy. It was the best day yet. Best day. The night was pretty much the opposite.

~

We had another late start. I had set my alarm for 5 but pushed the snooze immediately. I can tell that not sleeping in is going to be a challenge. It had rained overnight though, so we didn’t feel too bad about snuggling into our bags for a little while longer while we waited for the sun to come out.

By 7:30 though it was still overcast and we decided we could wait no longer. Our fellow campers were of the same mindset, and we all gave each other nods of hellos across the field as we sleepily made our way out of our tents and started to break down camp.

While brushing my teeth I met another girl named Tracy from Los Angeles. We laughed about how the desert wasn’t exactly what she was expecting. Not quite the blistering heat we’d been warned about. I’m sure that will come later in Mojave though.

By 8:45 we were packed and ready to head out. On the way out we checked the hiker box and Stanley grabbed a full brimed sun hat with the name Tommy on it. Hiker boxes are where hikers put the gear and food they decide they no longer want to carry and leave for other hikers.

It was still overcast so we left our fleece layers on, but after a couple miles we were already working up a sweat and had to take them off. It was a steady climb out of Lake Morena. We played leap frog with a group of three (and later four when a girl joined them) for the first half of the day. I kept expecting the climb to take it’s toll, but I felt great. The nero the day before made us feel fresh and excited again to be on the trail.

We had a few spots in mind for that night. The first was just after 13 miles at a campground that was supposed to be nice but cost money and was about a mile away from the trail. We were hoping to make it at least to mile 16 where there were some free spots on the trail somewhat close to water. Our real goal was to get to mile 37.7 by a spot right next to a creek. That would give us an easy 4 miles into Mount Laguna the next day for our resupply. We didn’t plan too much though. Our goal is still just to hike as much as we can and not break ourselves as we build up our strength and toughen up our feet.

We were flying through the trail and came to our first water source long before we needed more water. The cool day was definitely helping us conserve water, but we were also making sure to not make any water mistakes again. The water was at a nice picnic spot though, and we magically had service, so we decided to break for food and I was able to upload my first couple blogs. I also took the time to check a hot spot on my toe and, sure enough, I had a small blister forming on the side of one of them. I put a bandaid around it and told myself I’d keep an eye on it. Just before we reached our lunch spot we had met a girl named Becky who had pushed herself to Lake Morena on day 1 and already had blisters. Now she was trying to push herself on day 2 the 22 miles into Mount Laguna. I did not envy her.

We stayed at our lunch spot for about an hour, which was probably a little too long. The group that we had been leap frogging with passed us and we chatted a bit. The girl from Los Angeles and her group of four also passed us while we were waiting. Both groups were stopping at the 13 mile campground, making it sound a little more tempting, but we held off deciding still.

By the end of our hour we were freezing again. It actually felt nice to put our packs back on and get moving. We passed the group we’d been leap frogging with a bit further down the road under an overpass trying to hide from the wind. It was one of the last times we saw them.

After that it was just more of a climb. We stopped every so often to marvel at how far we were going as the highway we had just walked under got further and further in the distance. Soon it was out of sight completely. This happened a few times as sights in the distance ended up behind us as the miles ticked on. We kept trying to guess which mountain was the scary Mount Laguna we’d have to climb to get to the town, but each time we passed the mountain shortly after. I wonder if we’ll get better at judging distances soon.

It stayed cold and cloudy and a bit drizzly all day. It should have been miserable, but we felt great all day. We kept randomly getting excited about how we were finally on the trail and how beautiful everything was.

And it really is beautiful. My favorite moments are coming around a new bend and seeing the scenery on the other side. Green hills and distant views everywhere make it difficult to be unhappy on the trail.

At about 10 miles in we stopped to refill our water at Kitchen Creek. It was the first water we’d be drinking that wasn’t out of a faucet, so we filtered it with our Sawyer and then threw in chlorine tabs for good measure. There had been e. Coli in the water in the past and I was not messing with that.

While finishing up we were passed one last time by the group we’d been leap frogging with. We wouldn’t catch up with them again before they left for the campsite turnout at mile 13.

Sometime shortly after this, Stanley realized he had dropped his beanie somewhere. We dropped our pack and jogged back a bit, but no luck. We counted it as a loss and kept going.

At mile 13 we passed the spot where a military helicopter had crashed years before. There were still signs warning to stay on the path in case of unexploded ordinances, which was a little unnerving, but we were past it quickly.

We were feeling great and thought we could make it to the campsite at mile 16 at least, so we pressed on. We had left the two groups of four behind, so we assumed we’d be alone on the trail for the rest of the day, but were soon surprised by two guys flying up the trail behind us. They were wearing shorts and looked a little crazy, but impressive all the same. As soon as they were out of sight it occurred to me that we should have asked that if they’d seen a black beanie on the trail behind us. Stanley noted that one of the guys was even wearing a black beanie, and we laughed saying it was probably his and now we would never see it again at their speed.

We kept going at our pace until I needed to stop and check on my blister. It had moved out of the bandaged spot to the front of my toe, so I switched to my river sandals and kept trekking. I must say, I love my river sandals. I was hesitant to even get some because they seemed like unneeded weight, but Stanley convinced me and I’m so grateful. I’ve started joking that I’m going to wear them the rest of the trail, though that might be difficult in the Sierras.

At mile 16 we got to our first possible spot, but there was already someone there. We were wanting to go up another half mile to another spot closer to water anyway so we weren’t too bummed. On the way though we caught up to one of the fast guys who had passed us shortly earlier. He was alone now putting on his jacket. It turned out the other guy with him was the one camped at the spot just below. Stanley commented on his beanie and said he was jealous because he had just lost his earlier that day. “Oh, this is yours then!” he exclaimed. We couldn’t believe it.

He followed us for a while and we found out that he was actually a pretty well known hiker nicknamed Pathfinder. He had just started that day and was already at mile 36, and he was trying to do a calendar year Triple Crown. That’s insane. We kept offering to get out of his way so he could continue on his fast-paced way, but he said he didn’t mind keeping us company. He gave us some good tips and told us some cool stories, and before we knew it we were at the final camp spot we had been looking at. Just like that our 17.75 miles were done. We said goodbye and exchanged blogs. I’m excited to go follow him at adventuresofpathfinder.com. I hope he makes his triple crown goal this year. It seems like nothing is going to stop that guy.

When we said goodbye it was at 6:45 and it was quickly getting colder and starting to drizzle again. We threw up our tent as fast as we could (it took about 3 minutes) and jumped inside.

The night quickly got bad. We had no idea, but it was going to be an unseasonably cold night. So cold that even in all of our layers and snuggled in our sleeping bags we were still freezing. We had to pull out your emergency bivvies and put them over our bags to retain enough heat. Unfortunately, the emergency bivvies don’t allow moisture to escape, so we were warm but wet. It wasn’t pleasant. Stanley was able to sleep but I had a bit more trouble. It wasn’t until we cooked some broth and couscous and put the entire pot in my bag with me that I finally started to feel warm and dozed for even a little. It would be a very rough night though, and one I hope never to repeat.

Day 2

April 30, 2018

Hauser Creek (15.36) to Lake Morena (20.26)

4.9 trail miles (Our first Nero!)

Some things you just know without having to experience them. Like that a fire is going to be hot and you shouldn’t touch it. Other things you think you know until you experience them and realize you had no idea. This was my only thought as I ate my dry food this morning on the way to Lake Morena.

~

We started late. Very late. We didn’t set an alarm because we passed out at 8 and figured we’d wake up way too early anyways. Nope. When I finally opened my eyes it was to full light. Oops. Instead of hurrying though, we accepted that it would be another slow day and took our time breaking down camp. By the time we actually hit the trail around 9, most of the other campers had already headed out. That left us mostly alone to do the five miles to Lake Morena and our water.

Unfortunately, that five miles was over a very large hill. I was glad we had decided to wait until morning to tackle it, while the air was still cool and we didn’t need as much water. These were my thoughts as I headed up the steep incline.

It wasn’t long though before we were rationing our water and counting our steps until that sweet unlimited water. It was rough going. My pack somehow seemed heavier despite the low water and smaller food pack. We stopped several times to look at the view or some cool bugs. About halfway up I had to use the bathroom, and was glad because it meant I wasn’t too dehydrated yet.

Around this time I also decided to grab one of my Kashi bars for a snack. It was a mistake. Every bite took at least five minutes to chew as I had very little spittle to help aid in breaking it down. It was a chocolate peanut butter bar too. Not cool. I think I left the last bite in my pocket because I just couldn’t swallow it.

At the top we could see the lake and celebrated by downing the last of our water.

The last mile and a half were finally downhill and I definitely jogged a bit to get to the campground. After a couple false trails leading off, we finally found the one that went all the way down to the lake. We came out of the woods and jogged across the street to the most glorious sight ever.

Dozens of campgrounds, and each with their own spigot. We dropped our packs, filled a bottle each, and chugged half a liter right there.

I really hope I never make that mistake again. While we were never in any real danger, I have decided I love my water way too much to ever want to have to monitor my intake again.

We took a small rest before heading back up to where we left the trail and continued around to the other side of the campground. We could have just walked through, but I’d like to walk every step of the trail that I can.

A short ways further and we got to the PCT hiker campground, which is just a big field with a gazebo and firepit. It was heaven. So much so that we decided that we would have our first Nero (“near zero” miles in a day) and would camp there tonight. The water, bathrooms, and shower we’re just too good to pass up, and my feet aren’t quite as trail hard as they could be. A day to let them rest would do wonders for blister prevention, which is my second biggest fear behind ticks.

We set up camp and then headed to the entrance to pay for our spot. No one was there though, so we headed back to try to find the ranger station where we could also pay. It turns out the ranger station was not back by camp, but further down the road. Fortunately though, there were several rangers at camp doing maintenance who were able to give us our day permits and exchange quarters for the showers.

We saw another hiker headed towards the entrance, so Stanley yelled over to him to explain the situation. He was very grateful to not have wasted the time, especially since he hadn’t even dropped his bag off first.

His name was James and he’s been our first real friend on the trail. We also gave him $1.25 of our exchanged quarters (all we’d had was a $5). This was worth a 10 minute hot shower, for which he was also grateful.

The rest of the day has been amazing. The weather stayed overcast and not too hot. We made our first meal on our stove. First few meals in fact – pasta with Olive oil, couscous with potato flakes, and more pasta. I love my pasta.

It was nice to have hot meals, and I was excited when Stanley pulled out all his spices. The potato flakes were kind of an accident. We just didn’t use enough couscous in the water because we had nothing to measure it with. But adding the potato flakes is a common hiker trick I’d learned for adding calories, and it worked perfectly.

After that we took our shower, chugged more water, and got in our tents and our cozy fleece pajamas. It wasn’t long before James walked up and pulled out a few mini bottles of wine to share. It was perfect, and I have no regrets about taking a Nero, even if it is only day 2.

The PCT is a race, and the last one to finish is the winner.

This is the quote I wrote in the hiker log at the trailhead, and I truly believe it. We’re not here to rush and break ourselves. The long days and long miles will come in a couple weeks when we’ve gotten our trail legs and stronger shoulders. For now, I’m happy to relax and enjoy the journey.

Tomorrow will be mostly uphill. I’m hoping this long rest will make it so we can do another 18 mile day (preferably with all 18 miles counting this time). After that it will be a short 4 miles to Mount Laguna, where we’ll do our first in town resupply and I’ll hopefully be able to update the blog finally. After that, who knows. But we’re finally on our way to Canada.