Date: July 16, 2017
Miles: 25.3 miles (40.7km), from mile 1,030.7 to mile 1,056.
Health: Feeling great.
I woke up tired. I tried to sleep with just my Gossamer Gear Thinlight sleeping pad, which is 1/8 of an inch (0.3mm) thick, to see if I could ditch the heavier Z Lite pad and get my pack lighter. The Thinlight is so thin that I'm obviously not hardcore enough yet to sleep only on it. I had the Thinlight for the Sierra but I decided to carry it still as it weighs nothing and it’s a better back pad for my frameless Simple Pack.
After a couple of hours of tossing and turning I had to put the Z Lite under me and only then I fell asleep. I had my alarm set to 5 am but I didn't feel like waking up so early so I moved it to 6 am. That meant I'd be getting a later start but that was okay. I'd just take fewer breaks during the day to make it up in mileage.
Just as I got my things packed and shouldered my pack, the Jew Grew woke up. They were taking even a later start. I waved bye as I headed out and saw them getting ready for breakfast. Before leaving I filled my dirty water bottle from the stream and hiked on.
The trail has definitely changed since Sonora Pass and since we came down from Sierra. The climbs aren’t that big, although the trail still goes up and down, and the scenery has changed like it was cut with a knife. The granite, snow-topped, rock walls of Sierra have changed to darker, sandy mountains. We’re getting to Northern California.
The trail is also a lot easier to hike with less snow on it. I still end up climbing a lot of snowbanks and losing the trail every now and then, but it's nothing like the past month has been. I feel like we’re back in making big miles. And we definitely need to cover more ground now as we’re finally through the snow of Sierra as we need to get to Canada before the winter comes.
After some time I ran into White Rabbit and Reroute again. They had camped few miles back from where the Jew Crew and I had camped and past us in the morning while we slept. We walked together for a while and then got separated again. Then I saw them again down on a river, way off trail, as I was walking up on some switchbacks. It looked like they had gotten off trail at one point and it would take some time for them to catch up again.
I climbed over a ridgeline, and then started descending down on long, windy switchbacks. After some time I reached the valley floor and got to a stream to fill my empty water bottles. What on earth? White Rabbit and Reroute where there already?!? How did they get ahead of me? After me scratching my head for awhile, they revealed that they had seen me on the switchbacks going down and had decided to cut them to save time. Sneaky!
Reroute and White Rabbit stayed back to filter water and eat lunch. I wanted to hike a little bit before stopping for lunch. I was holding out for a possible trail magic at Ebbetts Pass. We had heard rumors about epic all-you-can-eat pizza offerings, and the pass wasn't that far away, so I calculated I could make it there with only snacks. Anything for on-trail pizza!
I hiked on alone and finally reached the Ebbetts Pass. I was anxiously trying to see if there were any signs of trail magic. A car! I get closer but there's not a single soul around. Other than the lonely car the whole place is empty, no trail magic. Bummer!
Now hungry and disheartened I move a little off trail and start making my lunch, Idahoan Potatoes and pepperoni. Not as good as pizzas and burgers but will have to do. After eating I feel so tired that I doze off for a second in the warmth of the sun.
Next thing I know I hear someone asking me if I'm ok. I wake up and open my eyes to see four people and two dogs looking at me while I’m sleeping on the ground. Day hikers. I assure them I'm ok and that I’m just resting. They ask me about the hike and we do the usual PCT talk after which they wish me good luck. As we're talking their two dogs, Aussies, keep me company. It's so awesome to see trail puppies again. I try to get as much puppy love as I possibly can as I miss Fire immensely.
Before they all leave they hand me some fresh berries. I thank them and eat all the berries at once. Hiker hunger is real! The berries were good but they barely register in my stomach. Oh, how I could go for some pizza right about now!
Soon after that White Rabbit and Reroute arrive. Sadly I have to inform them that there's no trail magic here today. We sit for a while and watch the cars drive by on the small mountain road on the pass. Seems to be pretty busy for such a small road.
We talk about trail magic, getting to town from here, and how we would love to have some ice cold sodas. Then we see another family approaching us. They have two mules and two border collie puppies. After talking with them for awhile they give us some of their leftover bars. We happily accept.
After the family heads on, White Rabbit tries to yogi sodas from a car full of people who stop at the pass to play in the snow. No luck with the sodas this time. We head back on the trail as we still have miles to do today.
After couple more hours of hiking, I reach my 25 mile goal and we stop for the day at a beautiful saddle with lots of room for camping. As we haven't seen any mosquitoes all day I set up my cowboy camp behind a nice rock that should shield me from any wind.
We eat dinner, drink some of Reroute's whiskey, and watch what looks like a wildfire far in the distance. As we watch the huge pillar of smoke rise to the sky, we hope it's not spreading, or on the trail. So far we haven't had any trouble with fire closures on trail. We keep our fingers crossed for that to continue.
We also talk how we miss just a few things from the real world. We all agree that ice cold sodas, beer, and pizzas are the things we miss the most. If we could somehow get them here, this would be pretty epic night!
The sun starts to set and it's time to go to bed. As soon as I get inside my sleeping bag the mosquitoes appear. Damn. I'm not going to battle them tonight. I need my sleep so I quickly set up my tarp and head into my little mosquito free cuben fiber heaven.
As I'm setting up my shelter I notice the stars and the milky-way up above us. I take out my camera and lay halfway outside my shelter door and take photos. It's so beautiful out here!