Monday when I woke up I still had three beers in the fridge, which I proceeded to drink as I packed up, took care of business at the Post Office, and did some other chores. The motel gave me and four others a ride to the trailhead at ten.
The day was nice and at first the trail was easy through some nice country. I met a group of school kids out for a field trip and they peppered me with questions, which I was happy to answer for awhile, but I had to get going.
Then the climb began. Steep switchbacks for hours going up Mt. Baden-Powell. I had a heavy food bag, five liters of water and I was slow.
It took me all afternoon, but I made it! I had the place to myself too, but I didn’t stay long.
I was really tired, so I only went about a quarter mile before finding a spot on the ridge to camp.
That was when I realized I had no shelter. I had intended to swap out my small tarp for the larger one since it may rain on Thursday, but somehow ended up with neither. I don’t know if I left it in the hotel room, or accidentally mailed both of them to Tehacapi, but either way I was sleeping in the dirt. It’s probably karma from mixing Bushmills and Jameson in the same container. (Post Post Trail Edit: That’s a joke. Does anybody understand why that’s funny? If so, please leave a comment so I know I’m not the only one laughing!)
It was a cold night (8600 feet). With no shelter, I got up early and hit the trail before 0600.
I don’t know how far I walked because of a frog detour (7 miles road walk) and my poor route finding, but it was a nice day, and I walked for eleven hours (so, probably 20 miles or more) to mile 404.
It was a nice quiet night and not too cold. I slept great, awoke refreshed and hit the trail before 0700. Another beautiful day and pretty country to start out.
I met Lost&Found today. He rolls like me, sort of white and tan and grey, so I didn’t see him taking a break on a rock by the trail until I was right there. We had a pretty short conversation at the time, but I knew I liked him.
A few miles of up and a few miles of down and then more up until I could finally get cell reception.
Then down down down to a FS fire station for water. I introduced myself and got them to give me two garbage bags I can use for shelter if I have to sleep in the rain tomorrow night. Then it was back up up up through a heavily burned area.
I had committed to hiking to the next water source (7 more miles) before camping and I didn’t get there until after five. At that point I was ready to camp, but there was nothing but steep burned up brushy mountainside. The only place flat and clear was the trail itself. I passed by some spots around six but they were all taken.
I saw a spur trail down to an old landing and thought I had scored a nice spot, but when I got there, someone was already there. He was a nice guy, and offered me to camp in the remaining spot. But I wouldn’t want someone camping at my camp, and I didn’t particularly want company. So I walked back up to the PCT and kept walking.
I hiked until after seven, about twelve and a half hours. 24.35 miles. My phone says I took 62,030 steps today. I’m really tired and it’s freezing cold up here. I don’t know if I have the energy or appetite to eat tonight. Good news is I only have 16 miles to go tomorrow.
I think my westward journey is almost over. I think tomorrow the trail heads north again, across a corner of the Mojave Desert and toward the Sierra. The hottest and bleakest part of the trail awaits.