Date: May 26, 2017
Miles: 19.9 miles (32km), from mile 398.7 to Mill Creek Fire Station.
Health: No new blisters, legs tired but feel fine. Definitely need rest.
Note: as my camera is still broken (see day 25), all photos here are from iPhone 7 Plus.
Today was quite an easy hike in PCT terms. We only climbed few thousand feet, which meant 1.5-2 hours of climbing, and the rest of the day we climbed slowly down. The trail was also quite easy. At times it felt luxurious.
We woke up with Blü quite late, around 6:30am. Blü got his things together quick and I took a little bit more time. We were ahead of everyone else and it wasn't going to be a hot day so no need to rush anywhere. I was on the trail 7:05am.
My first order of business was to make the two miles (3.2km) to Camp Glenwood for water, and to use their pit toilets. All that chili yesterday made me hike a bit faster.
At Glenwood I met Blü and a big group of other hikers. Most hikers pushed on but I stayed to eat a slow breakfast. Soon Wilder and others showed up, followed by the rest of our trail family a little later.
I had already wasted enough time so it was time to get on the trail. I was still a bit down from having an off day yesterday, and missing Blis and Fyre, but Morgan gave me a good pick-me-up before she left and I started to feel a little better.
I felt like I was moving super slow but looking at my progress I was moving at a steady 3.5 miles per hour (5.6km/h) pace. At one point there was a junction and the instructions and the map were a bit off and I ended up on a road, few hundred feet away from the PCT. This was a bit odd as I thought I was following the PCT signs. I ended up walking about 0.5 miles along the road to where it joined the trail again.
Soon I caught up to a female hiker, and a little later to Derek and Kelley who were eating a snack on a small shade on the trail. I felt strong and pushed onwards but soon, on a small climb, I felt all my energy disappear. I didn't eat enough on the breakfast.
The next water source was only few miles away so I didn't want to stop to eat. I let the others pass me and slowly made my way up to the spring on the mountain side. Kelley and Derek were there, and also Blü, who was waiting for me. We ate more and tried to find shade on the narrow trail on the side of the mountain. One by one we filled our bottles from the slow flowing spring.
This whole section was covered in Poodle Dog Bush. It's a nasty bush that grows on burn areas and causes really bad reactions if touched. If clothing or gear touches it, it needs to be washed separately from everything else. As we can't wash anything on the trail, it's just best to avoid the bush at all costs.
The Poodle Dog Bush can sometimes be hard to notice and Blü had sat down right below one at the spring. Not touching it tough.
Our plan from the spring onwards was to take few liters of water to make the next over ten miles to the Mill Creek Water Station, and on the way there, stop where ever Morgan, Laurel, Kristen, and Pig Ben were. Blü left first and I stayed to camel up a liter and filter another one before heading out. It wasn't hot by desert standards, only about 80 degrees (26.7c), but it was still hot enough for me.
I've learned to pretty well tell how much I need water for different sections. In this kind of heat I can make about 5 miles (8km) with one liter, but I can push it up to 10 miles (16.1km) if needed. Water is the heaviest item we carry so you don't want to carry more than you need.
While I've honed down my water carries pretty well, same can't be said about my food carries. We're getting to Aqua Dulce in few days and I still have enough food to last another five days. It feels ridiculous to spend all that time, money, and effort to make your gear light, and then stupidly carry almost double the needed food for close to hundred miles.
I met the girls after the climb at a nice, but windy spot. But no sign of Blü. The girls hadn't seen him either. Maybe Blü missed them as they were sitting a bit off trail behind some trees. I stay there for a while but the wind and the shade make it kind of a cold spot to sit.
Sam shows up and I borrow the roller he's now carrying. This is the same roller we found in the hiker box in Mount Laguna. Blü has been carrying it for close to 350 miles, and now Sam is doing his part. Our plan is to take the roller all the way up to Canada.
I use the roller to unlock my leg muscles while forcing down some more chocolate bars. While I'm not hungry, I know I need the calories and I don't want to run out of fuel again like earlier.
Soon the girls head out and I hike after them. It's only seven miles from here to the Fire station and it's all downhill. I put on some Iron Maiden in my headphones and start running down the trail. For a second I had a cell reception and I received new photos of Fire (my dog) from back home. I smile and look at them while hiking down with a smile on my face. I miss my little furball so much.
The downhill is pretty quick to hike. I sing out loud and twirl around with my single hiking pole and soon see the Fire Station. Can't believe we've already done close to 20 miles and it's only 4pm? Everyone's sitting around the picnic table and we ponder for a while with Blü whether we should stay at the Fire Station for the night, or push on 2.7 miles to the next possible camp spot. We decide to stay as there's water at the station, and a toilet. That always wins dry camping and digging holes in the desert.
Slowly more hikers arrive and we start to wonder where to sleep. There's a camp ground 200 yards from the Fire Station but it's really noisy thanks to the busy highway close by, and sleeping close to the station is prohibited. I search the area around and soon find a spot behind a parking area where we can all fit and be sheltered from the wind.
As we're starting to settle in for the night, clouds roll in and we're soon all covered in clouds. Without the shelter from the winds it could get cold at night. Everyone's in bed way before hiker midnight. We plan the strategy for tomorrow from our sleeping bags. It's a bit tricky as there's another fire closure where we can't camp, and there's also a ice cold margarita trail magic rumor going around for Sunday morning. We need to do a long day tomorrow to beat the fire closure, and to make it close enough for the Sunday morning margaritas.
Trail life is sometimes weird :)