Date: May 9, 2017
Miles: 18.5 miles (29.8km), from Mike's to mile 145.4.
Health: All the blisters have either healed or are not an issue anymore. Legs feel strong while climbing.
The mornings are kind of hard. You wake up and it's still dark and cold and your legs hurt. You get out of your warm sleeping bag and start packing in the dark. You don't want to take off your warm puffy because you get cold instantly, but you can't hike in it.
After you're all packed up, you try to leave camp with as little clothing as you can as you'll be too hot soon. This means you're shivering for the first 20 minutes. As it takes a while for you body to warm and your muscles to kind of start up, I find these first miles the hardest. Breathing is hard, my nose is still stuffed and I just find myself forcing me onwards as I know it gets easier as my body slowly wakes up.
We woke up at the patio of Mike's house after cowboy camping. People started to slowly head out as they got ready. Blü left right as I was getting ready and I headed after him. I needed to filter some water for the 10 mile (16.1km) hike to the next water source. As I was filtering the water, most of our group passed by as they had done their water duty the night before.
After filling two liters of water and cameling up one, I headed after the others. The hike out of Mike's was just beautiful. I kept stopping constantly to wonder at the gorgeous scenery. I caught up to Pin and Theo soon, but stopped to take photos of them across the mountain and stayed behind again.
The miles were going by so fast that we soon caught up to the others who hiked out from Mike's last night. They had slept at a beautiful but windy saddle that was very exposed.
I caught back up to Pin and Theo and hiked with them for a while. I laughed so hard at Theo's jokes that I almost fell off the mountain. After a while Theo stayed back and I hiked on with Pin. It was funny as I've seen her everyday from the start, but we've never actually talked one on one. We had a long discussion about work, life, and our future goals. I found myself nodding along to a lot of the things she was saying. It's great to have these kinds of connections on the trail. Miles went by fast.
Even with the late start we made ten by ten easily and got to the next water source where others were hanging by the trail. The water was about 1/4 of a mile off trail down in the valley. These trail gatherings are the best part of the day. I laughed so much again. There are so many great personalities on the trail.
After some early lunch it was time to head out again. The next water source was in 8 miles (12.8km) so I needed about 2 liters. I made the short hike down the steep hill and found Blü hanging back down there. He was waiting there for others and we had stayed up at the top.
Blü pointed me to the direction of the water but I think I got the directions wrong and ended up at a spot where it was a bit hard to get to the water. I started going down this steep sandbank and got about half way through when I stopped and looked around to see where I'm going. I looked down and the path looked good, took a quick look up and stopped right at my tracks. About 2 feet up above me on the slope right next to me was a black rattlesnake that I hadn't noticed before. My heart stopped.
I've heard that their striking distance is two times their body length and I was about less than one times her body length from her. So I really needed to get out of there and fast. I stayed still to evaluate the situation and the rattlesnake wasn't coiling up. I kept one eye on the snake and looked down so that there weren't any snakes there and quickly dashed down from the sandbank. That was way too close for comfort!
I watched the snake slowly slither away and kept my eye on her to see where she was going as I had to go up the same route.
The stream was shallow and with only little flow so it took a while to filter 2 liters. I was so shocked from the snake encounter that I forgot to take a photo both of the snake and the water source.
I took my bottles and made my way up from the river as carefully as possible, keeping my eyes out for more snakes. Boy was I happy not to meet any more.
As I got up, others had already left and I hiked out with Pony Express and Otter. Pony was keeping the pace and she was charging it up the hill. I had trouble keeping up and Otter called it, saying she'll see us later.
We talked about all the regular trail stuff, like what did we do before the trail, work, life, and what our plans are after the hike. She's making an documentary about the PCT and you should definitely check out her website and Instagram.
After a while we got to what was described as a questionable water source at the water report. Everyone was skipping this one. The reason, it had a dead mouse floating in it.
While we were photographing the water and the poor mouse, Otter caught up to us. We hiked on but Pony had to pee so she stayed behind and I hiked on with Otter. It was fun hiking all day with different people and getting to know them better, on a more personal level.
Pony caught up to us on a long climb. We took a rest after what felt like an never ending climb. I was running out of water, but luckily the water cache wasn't far off. While hiking to the cache I realized that I had only eaten 2 bars today during the whole 16 mile (25.7km) hike, I was seriously bonking.
Once at the cache I put some food to cold soak and ate few tortillas to gain some calories and energy. We continued to the next cache soon but I couldn't keep up with Pony and Otter. They blazed on as I was having problems with the lack of energy caused by not eating properly. This is why it's so important to eat constantly.
Luckily the hike was short and all of us met at the 145.4 mile water cache. Most of us decided to spend the night here as the hike to Paradise Cafe the next day was only 6.5 miles (10km) so there was no reason to push on at this stage. Also the other campsites from here on had no water so it meant dry camping which I'm not a fan of.
The Cafe opens at 8am and even if we sleep late, we'll still be there way too early. Tomorrow will be resupply at Idyllwild. I need to wash my clothes, get a shower, ship out my old shoes, and restock some items like Leukotape and baby wipes.
We talked and laughed late in to the night, coming up with goofy trail names and laughing at all the funny trail stories that have happened so far. At the same time we kept our eye on the approaching storm in the horizon. Hopefully it won't rain tonight.