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Sunday, May 27, 2018

PCT - Day 38: 5/26/2018 - PCT Surprises

Trail miles: 22.7 from 634.2 - 656.9
Miles hiked: 23.0

Hiker Sunset
One of the greatest things about the PCT is the unknown things that come each day. Usually, the night before, we know about how many miles we’ll hike the next day. What we don’t know is what we will see, hear, experience, and share with others during those miles. Today was a great example of this.

The day started very cold. The wind had howled all night and was still roaring at sunrise. Ziploc and I glanced at each other from our sleeping bags, with just our eyes and noses exposed, and agreed we were getting a later than normal start. It was a good thing she offered me a spot in her tent last night. There was nowhere on the windy ridge for me to pitch a tent, and if I cowboy camped, I would have potentially been fighting with hypothermia.

Morning View
We all started hiking at 6:30 am or so.  I was wearing all my layers, a hat, and gloves. Within a mile my body warmed up and the winds subsided a little and the layer shedding began.

We had about 17 miles to go to Walker Pass, where there was a water cache. Our group covered this distance quickly, and I even felt that I was very sore and lethargic from the previous day’s 25 miles.

Hiker View
I managed to keep up with Tapeworm for a couple miles, mostly because it was downhill (and he slowed down a little). I really enjoyed sharing stories and talking motorcycles with him as we covered some more of the same, sandy desert terrain.

Uphill flowers
Tapeworm, Opera, and I arrived at Walker Pass around 12:30 pm and found Ziploc already sitting with a couple of other hikers (Gandalf, Grinch, and No-Man). HoosierDaddy had already hitched into town to get a resupply. There was also a trail angel named Chris who had brought Pepsi, Coke, pretzels, potato chips, bread, peanuts, jelly, peanut butter, gummy worms, a watermelon, and beer!

We all sat down and enjoyed way too many snacks and several beers. We moved back and forth from the sun to the shade and back to the sun.

Hiker Conversation
Gandalf is from Sweden and the banter between he and Ziploc (our friendly German) was truly hilarious. We laughed endlessly listening to Gandalf do his impersonation of a “serious German”. 

Hiker Magic
We discussed the idea of just camping at Walker Pass, but ultimately, around 4:30 pm, we decided to hike to knock off some of the elevation gain of the Owens Peak Wilderness.

Owens Peak
I flew up the mountain powered by Pepsi, watermelon, beer, chocolate, peanuts, and potato chips. I had probably consumed 2000 calories at the trail magic, and I had already eaten 3000 calories before I even got there.

We arrived at our anticipated campsite, which was five miles up and found it occupied and very windy. We pressed on almost another mile and found a doable spot. Tonight Ziploc and Opera are sharing the nightclub with my tent on one side, and Tapeworm on the other.

The sunset was breathtaking. We had views to the west and views to the desert floor to the east. Yet another one of the PCT’s surprises for us today.

PCT surprise
Late tonight we got a text from HoosierDaddy. He apparently injured his knee in town and decided to rest for a few days and then hitchhike to Kennedy Meadows where we’d see him again.

We’ve heard rumors of a big bubble of hikers at Kennedy Meadows waiting for snow to melt in the Sierra. We’ve also heard rumors of significant snow from Forester Pass and further. I personally don’t believe the rumors. As an avid Colorado mountaineer, I don’t want to let some snow scare me from pushing into the Sierra, but I also want to stay with this great trail family I am fortunate enough to be a part of.

Speaking of friends, nobody has heard from Socks in a couple days, but I assume she’s with Chilly Bin. I believe she is about 30 miles behind us based on the last text message I received from her. We are all hoping they catch up. I personally really miss Chilly Bin and her unique combination of humor and sincerity.

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