I hiked alone for most of the day. The early start was great and the clouds kept the temperature down until around 11:30am by which time I’d done 14 miles. Little did I know the last 6 miles left to Lake Morena would be the hardest of the day. There is no water at all in the first 20 miles this year, so I was carrying around 7 litres in the morning but hadn’t drunk much owing to the cool morning. Then there was bright sunshine and a fully exposed uphill section straight after my second break of the day. I hadn’t eaten enough during the two breaks, and whilst the heat meant I wasn’t hungry I did feel the fatigue going up the hill. I rigged up the umbrella and slogged it out to the top but it wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty. At that point another snack topped me up and the remaining 3 miles were pretty straightforward.
The scenery was beautifully varied considering this is the section of the trail referred to as “the desert” and looked on as something to be endured until the Sierra 700 miles in. A burn area provided a fantasy woodland, silver, black and white and evocative of magic and witches and faeries. Small purple flowers were heavily scented, bright oranges, reds, yellows and pinks carpeted sections, and at one point I looked back to see a hillside of nothing but green. To say this is the fourth year of severe drought doesn’t do justice to the persistence of these plants.
The animal life was just as interesting: jays, rabbits, lizards, butterflies and a small ground squirrel crossed my path often. And a bright orange bird I couldn’t identify but which I want to see again.
ADZPCTKO (no, I didn’t sneeze, let’s call it just “kick off”) is quite intense. I pitched the tent when I got here, and after washing my hands and face I tucked myself into a sleeping bag for some rest. But there are people all around. There was a burrito dinner this evening and I sat down to eat with Melony and Sam who have hiked the JMT before. Also a potential 2016-er and a couple of Sierra hikers. A great talk on the geology of the PCT finished me off. Tired and having spent a whole day in solitude means no scope for more interaction. What I’ve had has been lovely so I’m calling it quits and tucking up in bed again.