I am now in the town of Idyllwild, officially at mile 179.4 on the PCT. Yesterday, I hiked a 2.5 mile side trail down to a parking lot and found a ride into town from a man who was running down the path. I was finally able to take my third shower in 13 days, spent a long time rinsing and rinsing as much of the dirt as I could from my clothes before they went into the washer, ate a giant cookie, followed by ice cream, an entire avocado, more ice cream, a bacon cheeseburger, and more ice cream after a little break. (I ended up eating nearly an entire quart and a half!!!). I didn’t think my hiker hunger had started yet! Half way through the night (the first time I have slept in a bed since the night before the trail), I woke up with my stomach rumbling!
Even though I woke up “late”, I got to the breakfast place 10 minutes too early!! I took a moment to start journaling about day 4, ordered a bacon, avocado, and Swiss omelette and then was joined by Sprinkles and Spoon Man! Breakfast companions!
I love having instant friends!
They were taking a quick break in town and heading right back to the trail. I will spend the day in town and try to catch up a bit on journaling.
There are so many stories to tell already… I don’t even know where to begin! Mostly, I have hiked alone and I try to hike about 20 miles a day. Everything I have, including my body, is caked in dirt. I look rather disgusting. So much of the planning that I did in my living room went right out the window as soon as I set foot on the trail! My hat wouldn’t stay on my head in the wind, the razor I brought got clogged with dirt the first time I used it, my socks starting getting holes in the toes after only 5 days, one wet wipe was unable to clean even one leg (I had allocated one per day), I found out my tent is only good in fair weather, my headlamp is too dim to night hike (forcing me to walk in the burning sun), my hip belt pocket zipper broke, my tent stuff sack apparently blew away, my camera got a lot of sand in the gears, and my shirt is permanently stained brown! I removed the insoles from my shoes today to replace them and dumped a lot of sand out of my shoes that was hiding beneath them!!
After several sleepless nights due to high winds collapsing my pole, stakes being pulled out, and flapping my tent material all night long,
I finally cowboy camped in strong winds on a ridge for the first time on this hike. It was a makeshift site, on a big slope, but I made it through the night just fine and even got some sleep!
I think I will be doing more of that now that no spiders crawled into my sleeping bag and bit me! (A guy on the trail has already been bitten by a black widow recluse, and the bite started decaying his skin into a black hole! Another hiker advised him to wrap the bite with duct tape and keep moving!)
My toughest day so far was the hottest one four days ago. It started getting really warm around 7am and just kept getting worse. I reached a water cache around 2 and found a bush to rest under. Still, the sun was burning down on me. I tried to cover my feet and legs so they wouldn’t get burned, but that just made them sweat. And flies buzzed around my face. I got up and looked at my water report, only to find that all water sources for the next 33 miles were either dry or far off the trail and difficult to get to! I looked at my thermometer. After 2 hours in the shade, it read 101.6 degrees.
I returned to the water cache to find a gathering of lounging hikers. Greg saw me and said, “Wendy! Where did you come from?”
“I came from a bush over there!”
I’ve met some nice, friendly people
and some closed, not so friendly ones.
I haven’t hiked consistently with anyone. And when it was time for the kick off back at Lake Morena, where I taught yoga, many people just continued on.
Kick-off was dampened for me and another girl because of a badly behaved man. That story will be told another time. But we found someone incredibly kind and caring who saved the weekend for us.
My yoga sessions went well. I was so worried about people not being able to hear me outside, but I stepped it up and felt like I taught one of my best classes ever. Twenty eight people took class the following morning.
I saw Bones briefly and to my great surprise, ran into Cookie Monster, who I met at Pinkham Notch in 2008 and who played a big part in my decision to hike the AT. He didn’t remember me, but I told him about what I remembered about him. “Remember you were getting your hiking pole tips fixed and that you had your Tupperware containers for your food and were heading out to hike the Wildcats after you ate?”
I thought he had hiked the PCT years ago, but it turns out that this year is his first attempt. He gave me a hug and said, “Welcome home!”
What a small, friendly world.
Muk Muk and I made an escape plan and ended up being dropped off at the trailhead at Warner Springs at 9:30 at night- way past our bedtime and in the complete dark. I wanted to just set up camp and sleep, but she wanted to hike an hour to get away from the bad guy. My headlamp was way too dim for me to be able to see anything, so I just followed her. We camped in sand (my tent stakes weren’t holding!) and I left before she did the next morning. For the next 70 miles, I hiked by myself. She just arrived in town today with the guy who got bitten by the recluse and they are staying with me. Chris found some shorts in the hiker box to wear while his clothes were being washed and just broke out in a poison oak rash which he believes came from the shorts!! One thing after another…
I ran around town all day buying things and doing chores. I spent way more money than I had anticipated! And of course, all of my journaling time disappeared… 😦
I now have to decide if I should get back on the trail tomorrow morning or wait for the late afternoon to hike with Muk Muk…
I’m sorry to disappoint anyone reading, but hiking all day long and taking care of my basic survival needs leaves me no time to write at all…
Writing is a full-time job and the stories that are happening will have to wait until I get home to be told.
In the meantime, I will try to give small updates to let people know that I am okay. Thanks so much for your support!
(And if anyone knows of any ideas on how I can support myself while I write all my stories when I get back home, please let know!)