Day 42

Day 42
May 30
24.5 miles

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I was extremely tired and wanted to keep sleeping, but finally got up at 6:09. My sleeping bag was wet with condensation! It was 42 degrees, but felt much warmer than that! For breakfast, I had granola with chocolate bits in it, a banana, and coffee! I was very surprised that no one had passed by the entire time that I was camped directly by the trail! All night long, I was expecting Drama to come by and find me. I wondered where everyone was!
I started walking at 7:18. The landscape had changed into more of a woodsy feel with leaves all over the ground.
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Just after 8 am, I heard an unexpected sound…water! I thought that the next source was only a dried up puddle and not a cascading stream! My water report had no mention of this! There was a guy camping with a hammock up on the hill. He was just starting to break down his tarp, and I assumed that he was a weekend or section hiker. I collected some cold water and sat on a rock to filter in and then proceded on my way.
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My mood was good and thoughts about other things than how many miles I had left until the end of the day, until my next resupply, until the end of California, and until Canada flowed through my head. I decided that after the trail, I wanted to make jewelry (like Weeds does for a living), and that I wanted to write and teach yoga, as well. I had two climbs that were each about 1,000 feet during the morning. The temperature rose to 94 degrees, but didn’t bother me very much. I must be getting acclimated to the heat.
I reached a sign that had something written on it in marker. It advised that there was a better water source here than the one listed in our guidebooks. It instructed to find the second Sugar tree, stop and listen for water, and then head down the bank through the trees to find it! So, I did just that! It was kind of fun. I set my pack under the big tree and scrambled under the branches to find the water, filter it, and head back out for my next climb of 2,000 feet over the next 6 and a half miles. Part way up the climb, I reached Fox Mill Spring and decided that I would make my first ice coffee of the hike! That was nice.
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I kept climbing and soon reached another burn area! Sometimes, these areas have their own beauty because flowers grown quickly around the charred trees, but this area just looked like dead trees. I listened to some music to help me with the climb, even though it was quickly draining my battery to do so. The burned area was going on forever and by now, my stomach had started hurting again. I hoped to stop and take a break when I reached the top and had a nice view, but there turned out to be no nice views around here!

I moved on until I came to a bend in the trail around 5:45 and sat down. My stomach was in a lot of pain. I decided that I would make my dinner here. I boiled water for my pasta, let my noodles sit, and added some tuna for protein. The wind was picking up. I didn’t know what to do about my stomach. I tried to go the bathroom, but couldn’t. So, I kept walking along the ridge for the next 75 minutes. I saw no places to camp along the way!
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At one switchback turn, I saw a tiny spot that could possibly fit a sleeping bag, but I would have to wedge myself in between a prickly bush and a charred log! No, thanks! I continued on, hoping to find someplace soon. Finally, I saw a clump of trees in the distance and knew there must be something there for me!
I was right! I turned off the trail and scouted out the area. Parts of it were filled with anthills, so I chose a spot lower down. I later saw that I had put my stuff sacks on top of baby poodle dog bushes when I took them out of my pack!

As I lay in my sleeping bag at 8:36 pm, it is 61.8 degrees out and the crickets are chirping. I hope it is not too windy tonight! And I hope my tummy feels better tomorrow! Tomorrow is a big day- crossing the 700 mile point and reaching Kennedy Meadows- the gateway to the Sierras!
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Day 41

Day 41
May 29
mile 652-667.2
15.2 miles

I actually started to really sleep last night and did not want to get up! Sleep only happens on the second night of my stays in town because the first is filled with adrenaline and anxiety over everything that needs to get done in such a short amount of time: showering, washing clothes, shopping, eating, communicating with people from home, organizing resupply, journaling… There is never enough time!
I walked down to the Dam Korner for another avocado, bacon, and cheese omelet and wheat toast while I observed the interactions between the locals around me. I pondered whether or not I should order some french toast and decided to go with a half order. My stomach seemed to be feeling better this morning.
I returned to my room to sort through my food and do my final packing, and ended up having a little time to journal while I waited for Salty’s Dad. A saw a white van pull into the parking lot and got up to return my keys. Roadrunner, Will, and I climbed into the backseat and the little dog snuggled in between me and Roadrunner.
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The ride back to the trail was very quiet and I started to get overheated and a little claustrophobic as there were no windows in the back of the van where I was sitting. I continued to write and then gave up when all traces of cell signal were lost. I wouldn’t be able to post anything anyway.
We reached Walker Pass and climbed out of the van to retrieve our packs, still in a space of awkward silence. The wind was blowing my shirt up, making me even more uncomfortable. I took a picture of Salty and his Dad, thanked them for the ride, and gave Salty a hug, which was not well-received. Both of them had a feeling of distance.
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As the van drove off, Roadrunner and Will immediately started up the trail. I spent a couple of minutes taking pictures of the historical plaque and drank a half liter of water so that I was left with four liters to carry up the climb. I ended up having to pee a lot during the beginning of the climb, which always happens after leaving town. I felt good again after my stay. I had eaten enough that I didn’t feel hungry and I felt happy and filled up in every sense.
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I made it to the top of the switchbacks and saw a nice little resting area ahead. However, I knew that Roadrunner and Will would be relaxing in that spot and I was right! I continued on and found another little area that looked like a good break spot. I entered the cove to find another hiker with raccoon eyes from his sunglasses tan, who was airing out his sleeping bag. I had never seen this guy before and asked him his name. “Crazy Nuts,” he said. He didn’t smile or seem to want to talk at all, so I excused myself from the area and walked on, finally reaching a little tree that I could sit under all by myself! I ate my avocado and found a text from my resupply people concerning a shirt that I had ordered before the start of my hike, which still had not been delivered. I didn’t remember what company I had ordered it from, so they were guessing where I had bought it and were calling up companies who had no record, instead of looking in my e-mail account that I had sent them, where it could have been easily looked up. It’s frustrating to not have a computer to be able to sort these problems out myself. My phone battery was starting to drain as I spent time trying to search for the initial order.
A bit later on, I received a text from Drama asking me what my shoes prints looked like! Drama was hunting me down! How fun! I knew that there was no reception before Walker Pass and knew that he must be close to me if he could text me! I looked around with wide eyes and started moving! I quickly lost any range of reception and was unable to communicate any further with him.
The temperatures weren’t too hot and the scenery was beautiful, especially during the first half of the day. And there was some beautiful stonework along the trail to prevent erosion.
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As the day wore on, the sun grew stronger and made it difficult to see. I grew hungry and my energy started to fade. I sat down and ate a power bar and wished I could dump some of the water weight I was carrying. It felt like it was getting heavier and heavier!
At 5:06, I made it to the intersection of the Joshua Spring path, where someone had dropped off their pack.
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I walked past it and found a tree to sit under and cook my dinner of pasta and peas. I didn’t plan on collecting water at this spring because it was a long walk downhill to get to it and there were reports that it was unsafe to drink because of the amount of uranium that it contained. However, when I looked more closely at the water report, the next source appeared to be a one inch deep, 5 inches wide puddle that people were pumping from! I didn’t have that kind of filter, so I had no choice but to go back and collect water from Joshua Springs. I saw the owner of the pack emerge back up the hill. He was extremely skinny and was wearing a brown hat with flaps on three sides, and a bright orange cape-like thing around his neck. He looked like Michael Jackson to me! I hoped that it wasn’t Drama! I hadn’t seen him since Warner Springs and didn’t know what he might look like by this point! The strange-looking hiker took his time collecting his things and spent several minutes photographing the Joshua Springs sign. Finally, he slung on his huge blue pack and walked by me.
I felt something on my seat and after waiting a moment to make sure that it wasn’t imagined, looked down to see red ants all over me! I had sat on top of an ant hole! I quickly got up and brushed as many off as I could!
Then, I made my way down the third of a mile to the springs. I startled the anti-social guy who was climbing back up from there. I asked him if anyone else was down there (“No”) and if he knew who was ahead on the trail, as I had just spent a day and a half in town. “No.” Great! Thanks…
I collected my water, slowly climbed back up to the PCT, filtered the water and headed out for a couple more miles. The trail went down, down, down, and then kept climbing back up! I felt thirsty but couldn’t drink much water because I needed to conserve what I had for the next 20 miles!
I took a couple of pack breaks to rest my aching shoulders and then as I walked on, saw a flat spot that was just big enough for my sleeping bag along the side of the trail. It was now 7:35 and I decided that is where I would stop for the night! I was hungry and snacked on a coconut Kashi bar, some of Icebucket’s grapenuts mixed with a little protein powder, and a peppermint patty for dessert. I actually took some time to journal (a rare event), and snuggled into my sleeping bag. The temperature had dropped from 67 to 61 degrees in the last 20 minutes!
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Day 40: Zero in Lake Isabella

Day 40
May 28
zero day

When I opened the door of my motel room in the morning to step out into the world, I was blinded by the sun and had to quickly shut the door and retrieve my sunglasses! It’s funny how new this California sun is to me still and how easily I forget about it! I walked over to the office to find out when the mail was expected to arrive, hoping I wouldn’t be stuck there until the late afternoon waiting for my sleeping pad to arrive. I planned on walking back to Nelda’s for breakfast, but the owner told me that there was a closer place called the “Dam Korner” that had better breakfasts, so I headed there instead. I ordered my usual omelet and toast and then asked for an order of french toast after I finished. I felt like I could sit there all day, eating!
I decided that wouldn’t be the best idea, however, and headed out to find the post office to pick up the box I had sent to myself from Mojave as well as send Erik a check for the fleece jacket that he was mailing to Kennedy Meadows for me. I returned to the motel office to see if my sleeping pad had arrived and found Salty sitting there! “Wendy…” he said. “I turn my back on you for five minutes and you run off to the highway!”. Ooops… I explained that he went off with Iceman and Cattywampus and didn’t seem to care about me, and how uncomfortable I was in the wind, so I decided to try my luck at hitching! He apparently was hoping that I would help get him a ride, but it turned out that he got a much quicker hitch than Chip and I! Everything was fine. We agreed to have lunch together in a few hours. I still had to figure out when and how I was getting back to the trail. The motel owner said I could make a cardboard sign and stand at the freeway exit. Or I could wait until the following morning and get a guaranteed ride with Salty’s Dad. What to do, what to do… The owner commented on my inability to make a decision. I decided it would be nice to take a rest day and paid him for another night. I now had my new sleeping pad and waterproof mittens for the Sierras and I spent the next couple of hours sorting through my resupply items and journaling for a bit before heading back to the Dam Korner for a chicken sandwich with Salty. I bought a mocha from the espresso shop on the way back and Skyped with my Swiss friend in the afternoon.
Salty and I planned on walking to Nelda’s for dinner, and he gathered up Will and Roadrunner to join us. They had hiked the PCT about six or seven years ago and I asked him Will if it was so windy back then (Ted had explained that most of the windmills in the area were a recent addition within the last couple of years). He said that no, it was not nearly as windy then, and that there were not nearly as many burn areas as there now are along the trail. We talked about hikers we knew and there whereabouts and he told me that Lorax was about a day behind. I wondered how that could possibly be!
All day, I had been experiencing cramps and was having other PMS symptoms, but it was much too early for this to be happening and I couldn’t understand what was going on! By the time we reached Nelda’s, I was in a lot of pain and sat in the booth with my hand on top of my stomach. I ordered a chicken sandwich, which turned out to be really bad. We had a new waitress and for a reason that we couldn’t understand, she found it extremely funny that Salty asked if he could have cornbread with his chili! Roadrunner told us about her near-death experience from almost drowning in a raging creek in the Sierras the last time they hiked the PCT and advised me to listen to my gut and wait for someone to come along if it told me a creek was too dangerous to cross alone. I told her I would.
Our milkshakes arrived, but my stomach was now hurting so much, that I couldn’t enjoy or finish mine. Terrible!
Roadrunner and Will headed to the grocery store on the way back, while Salty and I went to the drugstore so I could buy a few things that I needed, included the tube of Vagisil for any future chafing! I had no idea where to find it in this huge store, so I had to ask a male worker where it was! I was also getting worried that I might run out of memory card space in the Sierras, so I decided to buy a second one in case. I bought two more Snickers bars, an avocado, and a banana and then headed to the check-out counter while Salty played with a bouncing ball. I asked him if he could help me download a map and waypoint App onto my phone and he filled me in on what I was doing wrong.
Once back at the motel, Salty said that he would not be going out for breakfast in the morning in order to save money, and would eat out of his pack, instead. Will and Roadrunner had made the decision to get a ride back to the trail from Salty’s Dad in the late morning, so Salty said he would knock on our doors when he arrived. We said goodnight and headed to our separate rooms.
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Almost to the Sierras!

I am currently in the town of Lake Isabella, 35 miles away from the trail. I couldn’t decide whether or not to send a resupply box here or not because I heard that hitching here (and getting a ride back to the trail) was incredibly difficult! But this town supposedly has the best milkshakes on the trail!
It was decided for me, however, when my sleeping pad blew away from underneath me while I was camped on a sloped ridge on an extremely windy night with four miles to hike to get to a road to hitch into the town of Mojave.
That was my worst night on the trail!
The winds have been unbelievable! Extremely high and constant. There are windmills everywhere in this section!
(And that was, by far, my toughest hitch yet! I stood out in the wind and cold for over an hour and no one picked me up until the only trail angel in town came by to deliver another hiker to the trail).
Anyway, luckily my sleeping pad was the only thing the wind stole. I had been using my down jacket as a pillow and when I lifted my head up to see why my hip was hurting so much, it flew away as well! I quickly struck out my arm to grab it! And I saw that not only did I roll off my pad, but there was no pad there at all! I switched on my headlamp to try to see if it was anywhere nearby, but you can only see, at best, a foot around you.
So, with freezing cold hands, I texted the people who are sending my resupply boxes to ask them to send one of my replacement pads to Lake Isabella- 94 miles away. The winds never died down!
I decided to take a zero day here after hiking 27.5 miles yesterday (and an additional mile and a half to get from the diner to my motel room afterwards!). I hiked the 94 miles in 4 days.
Tomorrow, I will get a late start, but a guaranteed ride back to the trail with Salty’s Dad. Then, I have 51 miles until I reach Kennedy Meadows- the gateway to the Sierras! A whole different hiking experience to get prepared for! I personally can’t wait to be reunited with my regular hiking outfit. This desert get-up is not working for me! The skirt is altogether too big and the button down, stained brown shirt is not doing anything for me. And my hat is way too floppy!
Muk Muk and UB are days behind. I will hang out in Kennedy Meadows on the 1st so I can see Dr. Sole (he will arrive that afternoon). And then we will see who else is there and whether I can wait for Muk Muk and UB or not!
I’ve been hiking consistently and like to stay ahead of the “herd” so I can occasionally have my own space. That is when I feel happiest- just me and the mountains. But sometimes, it’s nice to hike with people who are funny or have good stories.
I have a couple of stories from each section, but they take so long to type out, and it is past my bedtime already!
I did start having some painful problems this last section- chafing and painful callouses on 2 of my toes. And one night, I did not get any sleep at all because of the high winds, which made the next day quite miserable. Wind is my least favorite element. There is nothing you can do to escape it.
Some days are challenging out here, but other times, I feel incredibly happy and filled with gratitude for being able to be here. I am so happy I made the decision to do this.

I’ve hiked 652 official trail miles and still have well over 2,000 more to hike before I get to Canada! Sometimes, it boggles my mind!

Some of the men out here are amazed at me because the weight of my pack is twice the weight of theirs, and yet I continue to hike strong and consistently. One guy said, “I’m doing all I can with a pack that weighs 20 pounds. Yours weighs twice as much and yet you hike faster and farther. I don’t know how you are doing it!”

I met a nice man, originally from Romania, who was hiking southbound for the Memorial Day weekend. He said to me, “You’re a strong girl!”.

Thank you, sir. That I am.

A lot of people have been saying that they are “finished with the desert” for quite some time now, but I am happy that I have been content to be where I am and not wanting to be anywhere else.

I have no idea what the conditions are like in the Sierras now- how much snow and ice, what equipment is needed, or how dangerous the creek crossings are going to be.
I’ll just take it as it comes and see when I get there!

(We have entered more remote areas with no cell reception and this will continue throughout the sierras, so I am not sure when I will be able to update this again…)

Thanks for reading and thank you for your patience!

Day 39

Day 39
May 27
27.7 miles

As I climbed the switchbacks that I had hoped to climb last night, the wind blew strongly and made the walking tough. I assumed that it was even stronger last night and was glad to be doing this part in the morning, hard as it was. I scanned the terrain as I walked to see where I might have camped had I continued on last night and was happy with my decision to stop where I did. Although the wind made me feel cold and uncomfortable, the moon was still out and I tried to take in the beauty of my surroundings.
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The lack of trees made the world seem more open around me and I spent a moment at the top of the climb, looking out at the new landscape that was now revealed on the other side.
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As I descended into a small desert valley, I came upon Razor taking a break. I greeted him and headed up new hills and wound my way around ridge lines where telephone poles that gave no reception stood. As I got closer to the location of the next water cache, I heard someone call my name. I looked up to see Salty standing on the side of the trail and all I could do was laugh. With my stopping short last night, my non-existent ability to ever get up early, and Salty’s desire to get as far as possible in order to make today’s mileage to get to Walker Pass reasonable, it was immensely funny to me that we were now in the exact same place! I laughed and laughed and then we walked over to the water cache together. Salty told me that the wind was awful last night and that he wasn’t able to make it as far as he had wanted because of it. And to make matters worse, the moon took forever to rise! Mark ended up sleeping at the cache, but Chip stopped short and camped close to Salty.
It was now close to 9. Salty still intended to make it to Walker Pass and I thought I had a chance to do the same. First, we had to make it over the big, exposed climb in front of us, which was not recommended to be climbed mid-day. I debated whether or not I should take the time to make some hot chocolate. Salty said he definitely would if he had some. So, I did. He went on to start the climb. As I was preparing to leave, Razor came along and wanted to talk. His personality is very different from mine and the conversation was definitely not easy for me. I strongly felt that he wanted me to be someone other than who I am. I tried to be polite and provide him with some company, but I really desired to get hiking!
Finally, I excused myself and started the climb. When I was about half way up the mountain, I realized that this climb was not nearly as tough as it was billed and that I was actually enjoying it! Beautiful trees provided respite from the sun at the top of the mountain and I noticed several nice camping spots in case of a possible future visit.
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As the day wore on and I began to tire, I realized that I still had fifteen miles to hike until I made it to Walker Pass. Fifteen miles! That was a lot and my spirits sank. I needed a way to boost my energy. Somehow, in the next couple of hours, I checked my progress and realized that I was hiking 3 miles per hour, which I almost couldn’t believe! That piece of information gave me the boost that I needed!
I climbed another hill and began looking for a place to take a quick break. I ended up choosing a particular tree to sit under and was very surprised to find that I had some reception there! I took a minute to send out a quick e-mail to my friend, Erik, who happened to be visiting his family in Michigan at the time (he now lives in the Netherlands), and asked him if there was an outfitter close to where he lived. I explained that I was in need of a fleece jacket before I entered the Sierras (now only about 60 miles away!)- otherwise, I was going to freeze! I had an extremely narrow window frame to get this request out, and was so happy that I was able to do so! I ate a quick snack and got moving again.
Later, I caught up to Salty. I asked him what his plan was in terms of waiting for his father. Nothing had changed. I asked him if he knew there was reception a little ways back and he exclaimed, “No! And I guess you didn’t leave a sign for other hikers on the tree saying ‘Free Wi-fi’ or ‘Wendy’s phone booth’ did you?”.
He pointed out our first distant view of the Sierras as we walked. His guidebook was an informative one!
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Later on, I found a place to take our last break of the day, but jumped up when I noticed ants swarming me! We had one last push to get to Walker Pass and we wishfully talked about a barbecue and an easy ride into town awaiting us!
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Of course, we found nothing of the sort. Mark was there and had collected most of the water that had been left by someone for himself and Chip. There was also a plastic bag hanging from a tree that contained some individual packets of Oreos and a couple of eggs. Other than that, there was only the wind blowing. Mark was wondering where Chip had disappeared to and Salty began looking for a place to set up camp. I followed him down and wondered where I should set up. Then, he was called over to another area by Iceman and Cattywampus. The wind was blowing strongly and the sky was covered with gray clouds that looked like they might burst open with rain. It was only a little after six and I wondered why I would spend the night in these conditions when I had the chance to get into town! I picked up my pack and followed Chip out to the road. He and Mark had decided that it would be easiest if only one of them tried to hitch into Onyx and agreed that Chip could pick up both of their resupply boxes. Mark would spend the night at Walker Pass.
And so, I waited for passing cars with Chip. Unfortunately, almost all of the traffic was headed in the opposite direction! The few cars that came towards us didn’t even slow down. I figured I would spend an hour trying to get a ride and if that didn’t work, I could head back to where the others were sleeping.
After 20 or 25 minutes, however, a car that was coming from the opposite direction gave us a sign and turned around. They had seen us when they passed by the first time and turned around for us after letting their other family members in another car know what they were doing. How nice! They lived about half way between Onyx and Lake Isabella, so it was no problem for them to drop Chip off, and they said that I could hitch again at the gas station further up the road. Chip was extremely talkative as usual, and didn’t allow the couple to get in a word! I just sat there and smiled. He said I was welcome to camp with him outside the post office and perhaps go to jail with him if he was caught, but I said I would try to get into Lake Isabella that night.
As we drove on, the woman said, “You’re friend sure likes to talk a lot!”. The man ended up dropping his wife off and taking me all the way into Lake Isabella. His wife said that her husband was very quiet and not at all like Chip, and I told her that was a good thing! He delivered me right to the motel and when I offered to give him some gas money, he said, “You’re not going to give me anything.”
I checked in and got a room and after I asked how to get to Nelda’s where the milkshakes were, was told it was a mile and a half away. However, he might be able to give me a ride there since things at the motel were quiet. I think he expected me to shower before I went, but it was already so late and I wanted to get there before they closed. So, off we went and I had a mediocre burger, but a very delicious milkshake that lived up to its reputation! I also got to talk to Erik about the fleece jacket that I needed. Then, I walked the mile and a half back to my motel along the highway, because what’s a mile and a half more when you’ve already walked almost 28 miles with a heavy backpack? I finally got to shower and sunk into my bed.

Day 38

Day 38
May 26
mile 603.4-624.3
20.9 miles

I finally slept well! It was neither too windy nor too cold and I had some very intense dreams. I would wake up and then go right back into the scene repeatedly. I allowed myself to sleep in until 6:30, but I really wished I could have slept so much longer! I was so tired!!
I started walking at 7:36 and soon caught up to Salty. He called down to me from above the trail and I asked him what he was doing up there. He said that he was checking out an old water tank. He wanted to go down the hill and explore some log cabin ruins that his guidebook had talked about. I wanted to get in my miles (especially since I had just started the day) but I ended up going down the hill to find the ruins with him. It was fun to do something a little different and wonder about how people lived out here all by themselves many years ago.
As we walked back up to the trail, Chip and Mark came along. We took the lead and stayed ahead. Salty was getting overheated and wanted to take off his extra layers, but said he would wait until we got to the next water source. I told him that was still 2 miles away! He pulled out his GPS to confirm what I had just told him and then stopped right there. I told him I would let him catch up to me.
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I crossed over a marshy area and then a dirt road and came to a registry. There were benches beyond it, so I put down my backpack and went to look for a place to go to the bathroom.
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I was happy that I had a little time to myself. Salty came along and after reading through the registry himself, said to me, “I wish you had stayed with me… I just saw the biggest bear of my life! I stood there watching him for five minutes.” Darn it! I totally missed that! My stupid hat really restricted the view of my surroundings! Salty said the bear was making its way out of the marsh. Its fur was all wet and he assumed it had been taking a bath. He also told me that he had seen a mountain lion in the dark after the Anderson’s oasis cache! Lucky guy!
We walked to the road and then turned left to head towards the campground which had a water source nearby. Salty contemplated spending the day there since he had so much time to kill before his father would arrive. He said he has a hard time taking zeros in town and I wondered how he was going to take a zero out here and watch everyone walk by him! He agreed that that would be a very tough thing for him to do. I asked him why he didn’t call his father to ask him to come earlier and he said that he had had no reception. “What about at that blue house?” I asked.
“I saw a man walking around that house with a pistol on his hip! I didn’t see a sign that said ‘free Wi-fi'”, he exclaimed. “I wasn’t about to linger around that place!”.

We both moved on after filtering our water and having a snack. We came to yet another burn area and as I stopped to take pictures of flowers, Salty went on ahead.
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As I descended to the road and water cache, Mark caught up to me. I arrived there just before 1.
Salty spotted a lone Joshua tree across the road and up a hill and wanted to take his break there. I didn’t want to spend the energy to go all the way over there, so I set up in the sand on a hill above the water. I shaded my legs with my umbrella and snacked on a power bar, an english muffin, some peanut butter, some pork jerky, and a snickers. Chip and Razor came along and joined the other guys under the Joshua tree.
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I tried to nap a little in between wind gusts that threatened to blow my umbrella away. When I finally got up, I discovered that I was covered in dirt!
I was the first to head out at 2:10, and Mark followed close behind. As I read through the next register, which dated back to last year, Mark went ahead. For the rest of the afternoon, I walked alone, which was really nice.
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We had another big climb coming up and with four liters of water, my pack was very heavy! Joshua trees dotted the environment and the sand on the trail was deep, which took a lot of energy to get through. I took my time and plodded along.
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Once on the ridge, I sat down and ate another power bar. The sun was burning my legs! Forty-five minutes later, I was hungry again.
I was also having bad chafing problems in the area I was having trouble with yesterday. It was incredible painful. I finally decided to walk without my underwear on. For 10 minutes, I experienced incredible stinging and then, very slowly, it subsided a little.
I reached a flat area that looked like it would be ideal for camping, but I wanted to get in another 2-3 miles. I walked on and came to another spot that I could see myself camping in. I debated for a couple of minutes, and even though it was only just after six, I decided I had better stop here or I would have proven to myself that I didn’t learn my lesson after that awful night when my sleeping pad blew away. I could see that we had a climb ahead and I didn’t want to be caught on switchbacks in high wind again. So, I set up my cowboy camp under a Joshua tree that I hoped would provide enough shelter from the wind. As I was cooking dinner, Salty walked by, but didn’t seem to see me. I called his name, startling him a bit. I wasn’t expecting to see him because he had told me that he was going to walk down to a campground 2 miles off the PCT which had water and spend the night there. Apparently, however, Weeds and Icebucket made it to the water cache before Salty left and said there would probably be a barbecue at Walker Pass tomorrow because it was Memorial Day. But Weeds told Salty he would never make it there by then. “Don’t even try!”. At that point, he decided he was going to get to Walker Pass by Monday no matter what! And so, his plan was immediately changed!
He asked if he could join me for dinner and then headed back out to get in as many of the 28 remaining miles to Walker Pass as he could. Razor later walked by and told me about having set up his tent in a saddle. He was cooking dinner when the wind came whipping through, ripped up a tent stake, and knocked over his boiling noodles! He then decided to pack everything up and move! (He also told me that he had gotten sprayed in the face by a skunk earlier on the hike!).
As the last remnants of light were fading, Chip came along in his funny hat, with a smug smile on his face. He asked if I had seen Mark and seemed intent on catching up to him that evening with the help of the moonlight.
(Oh, Chip…)

It took a long time to wipe the dirt from my legs, and the extra time that I thought I would have to journal quickly disappeared. I wrote down a few words with cold hands and then huddled in my sleeping bag.
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Day 37

Day 37
May 25
mile 582-603.4
21.4 miles

I was unable to get any sleep due to the constant roar of the wind all night long! It was at least as bad as the night my sleeping pad blew away, but this time, I was on pretty level ground. I imagined that Weeds and IceBucket were sleeping soundly in their low elevation, sheltered spot. It was very cold and there was no way that I was going to get up at 5 something! So, I remained in my sleeping bag until 7:00! The wind still hadn’t lessened. I spent 10 to 15 minutes futily trying to put in my contacts. It was impossible! The wind would not let up for more than a second. While I was trying to do this, a couple walked by. I couldn’t see who they were. They said it was SunDog and Giggles. “I thought you guys slept at the water source last night!” Nope. They stopped just short of where I did, but found a spot away from the trail in the woods. “Were you guys able to sleep at all?”. They said they got some sleep early on, but couldn’t sleep because of the wind during the second half of the night. Still, they were smiling and chipper, as usual.
I finally got going and was able to put my contacts in on a stretch of the trail where the wind wasn’t as strong. I passed by Joe, who had also camped before the water source. And then, I walked by Jug, still in his sleeping bag next to the dirt road by the trough, and found Salty at the trough. We had all slept in! Wow! I didn’t feel so bad anymore! SunDog and Giggles were about to move on, so it was my turn to collect water. Joe had come along by this point. He was cursing over and over because his Sawyer squeeze bag had a tear in it. I asked him if he wanted some of my duct tape to repair it and he took some, still angry. As I was finishing up my filtering process, Chip and Mark rolled in. I had to get going! It was now 9:00! I had never started so late before!
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Soon, I reached another huge burn area. All of the trees surrounding the trail were charred. I had walked through many, many burned parts of the PCT by now, but this one made me mad. It was too much!
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I was tired and my mood was not good. The side of my big right toe was hurting where there was a huge callous. I wondered if a blister had formed underneath it. I was also experiencing more chafing pain. This time, it was not in an area that IceBucket could have helped with even if he was around. The burn area was extensive and there was no protected place that I could go to take care of my problem. I climbed up a slope along the trail and sat under a burned tree. I still had my baggie of Goldbond powder that Dr. Sole had given me back at kick-off, as well as a tiny free tube of ointment that I had picked up in Big Bear. I hoped no one would walk by.
Of course, someone did. I remained still, and I was amazed that the hiker did not see me! He had headphones in and was distracted by the music, I guess. Later, two other hikers also passed by without seeing me! I realized, that with our attention so focused on this narrow ribbon of trail, that we are missing out on seeing a great deal of our surroundings!

The zipper on my wind jacket had broken and I started worrying about freezing in the Sierras! I wished I had left my fleece jacket with my resupply people, but in my preparation for this trail, I thought my wind jacket was the replacement for that layer. It did not provide much warmth, however, and even less so when it was unable to zip up! I wondered if I was going to have an opportunity to buy a fleece jacket in Lake Isabella or at the Kennedy Meadows General Store.

Later in the afternoon, I saw Salty up on a slope. He appeared to be talking to someone on the phone. (I figured he must have been calling his family to tell them to come earlier). I kept going and later found a place to take a break along a climb. He passed by and wanted to know if I had seen him. He said, “I think you caught me talking to myself” and seemed embarrassed. I told him I thought he was on the phone, and that I talk to myself all the time! We were now only a couple of miles away from the 600 mile point!
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He continued on as I finished my snack.
After the climb, the trail turned onto a dirt road. I walked by a blue house that was set off the road that gave me an eerie feeling. I turned on my GPS to see what mile I was at and discovered that I had reception! I texted Muk Muk and found out that she and UB were now three days behind me.
Then, I reached the 600 mile mark! It was impossible to take a picture of myself by some rocks on the ground, but I tried. I was a bit disappointed that Salty couldn’t have stayed with me for that little bit so we could have taken pictures of each other! He had told me earlier that he was excited to reach this point.
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I listened to some Beyonce and Ray LaMontagne to help me through the last few miles of the day.
When I reached the intersection to Robin’s Spring, I turned away from the PCT and headed down the side trail to collect water. Salty was just coming down from the spring on the hill and he helped me open the wired gate, which was a Colorado style enclosure, and nearly impossible to get through! He spent a few minutes re-looping the wiring. I went up the hill and was surprised to see a man sitting up there with his winter hat on. I assumed he was a weekend hiker. He asked me if I was going to camp there. I didn’t feel so comfortable and told him I was going to move on.
As I was getting ready to leave, Mark hiked in. He planned on staying there for the night. Salty was hoping he could catch up to SunDog and Giggles, as this was one of his last chances to spend time with them. He was headed home for two weeks and would start the hike again with his mother for the next two months.
I made my way back to the PCT and after a mile or so, started looking for a spot to camp. I thought I saw a possible area down a hill, but after making the trek down, it turned out to be unsuitable. My guidebook was misleading as to possible camping spots in this area.
Fortunately, it wasn’t long before I rounded a bend and saw a place I could set up. I was done for the night! I set up my cowboy camp, cooked dinner, and was in my sleeping bag at 8:45. I hoped tonight would be less windy so I could finally get some sleep! Today was a hard day!
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