Hiking, PCT 2015, Travels

Day 35: A Sunset Makes Me Smile

The alarm at 4.45am is getting more offensive as time goes by. I love hiking early when it’s not too hot and miles go by quickly, but I’m getting tired and would appreciate more sleep on occasion. This morning, I awoke to condensation on my sleeping bag, and remembered that one of my major fears on the trail is getting cold. My sleeping bag is so warm, but it’s down and if it gets wet it’s essentially useless. The condensation doesn’t cause a problem, but it reminds me that the threat is there.

Wildflowers in the high desert

We had water from the night before, so we planned to skip Robin Bird Spring and head straight through to Landers Meadow. The day began with a climb up a dirt road, and this was to be a feature of much of the day. We passed the 600 mile marker early in the day, which cheered me up. I’m a bit sore, and walking up a relatively steep dirt road is currently a bit of a challenge. Nothing insurmountable, but an injection of good spirits from something as small as a pile of stones is a big help. Dolittle seems to be having a tough time as well, and powered ahead to get through the miles quickly.

I arrived at Landers Meadow Spring to find Chug and Dolittle resting up with HoneyStick, Mowgli and Andy. I flopped down and tried hard not to eat all the food in my pack. Thankfully the water was good, flowing steadily out of a fire tank into a small trough. I can’t think that the fire tank supplies the flow by itself though. It’s big but it’s not big enough to sustain a constant flow for long and this source is pretty reliable according to all of my information. I spent some time wondering if the overflow from the trough was somehow piped back into the tank, or if there’s a spring somewhere up the hill that flows directly into the tank and replenishes it, but could find evidence of neither. I sat by the trough and brushed my teeth for a few minutes. It’s surprising sometimes what I feel like doing, and how long I can spend doing it. Today it was brushing my teeth.

There was lots of fairly steady climbing and some big miles today, and I’m starting to feel my left calf sending error messages pretty regularly. Thankfully, it seems that body HQ can only process one error message at once, so if it is the turn of left calf, the messages from left shoulder and right shin get parked for a while. Kale never ended up walking that 30+ mile day yesterday and I’d seen him earlier and mentioned this, and he said that he noticed the same thing. Perhaps we adapt to constant aches and pains during a thru-hike. Somehow we subconsciously realise that the hike goes on, and that it’s pointless to have everything ache at once. We aren’t going to quit, so why make it harder?

We set up camp by the Kelso Valley Road where there was a water cache with plenty of water for making dinner and refilling for the day ahead. We were treated to a spectactular sunset as we pitched the tents, which made me smile at the end of a long day.

Sunset at the Kelso Valley Road

As the colours faded, so did our energy levels. The day is simple here, waking and sleeping with the sunlit hours. We resolved to make an early start again tomorrow though, to stay on track for our arrival at Walker Pass on Thursday morning. Before I fell asleep, I heard a car speed up to our campsite by the side of the road and a man yell something, whether at us or not I couldn’t say. I thought I heard footsteps as the car pulled away again, but when I looked out of the tent I couldn’t see that anyone had been dropped off. It woke me right up and set me on edge a bit, but I think I’m tired enough that it won’t keep me awake long.

Miles: 27
Camping: Mile 616

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