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!
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!
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!
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.
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!