Mile 126.9, “Mike’s Place,” to mile 145.4, “Mary’s Place,” 18.5 PCT miles + 0.4 miles to return to trail from Mike’s Place, daily total: 18.9 miles
Running total: 153.3
Shade and Water: Today’s Names of the Game
Today started with a climb out of Mike’s Place, ended with a climb to Mary’s Place, and in between those climbs? More climbs- but mixed within a deceptive decent. (For instance, on the app we are using there are mile markers- like camp sites, water sources, etc- if I look between point a and b there may be a total elevation loss of 500 feet, but in between that there are numerous climbs up and down, gaining and losing 500 feet, that tend to trick me!!) Surprisingly, though, I have found that the hardest part isn’t the walking- it’s the sun, the heat, the cold, the wind, the rain, and the water. Today’s ultimate battle was with the sun, heat, and water.
My secret goal was to make it to Mary’s Place at mile 145.4, but after a long day yesterday I didn’t know if Matthew would be up for a nearly 19 mile day so I didn’t mention it. Matt actually suggested it himself, so I was all game! My plan was to hike to mile 137, more than half way to Mary’s, before taking a break for lunch.
We started off around 0730 with 5L of water each- 11 lbs of water each! We climbed a few hundred feet as the sun started to grow stronger and warmer.
You can see mike’s place- circular property
Matt nearly stepped on a baby rattlesnake that was laying on the trail in the shade of a small bush- the little guy didn’t have a rattle yet, and was totally not phased by us- I pushed a rock towards him, hoping to encourage him off trail, but he didn’t budge! After another rock he coiled up, but still remained on trail- just now a little angry and in a perfect location to bite the next unsuspecting hiker. After some deliberation, Matt decided to use his hiking pole to push the baby rattler off trail- and once the coast was clear of snakes we pressed on.
We eventually started passing everybody who had left Mike’s Place before us hiding in different areas of shade, much like that baby rattler. Matt and I started to grow hungry around 1030, so we decided to stop at the next open area of shade we could sit under. We, no lie, had to walk more than a mile and out of San Diego County (we crossed into Riverside County at mile 132.8!) before we found an unoccupied plot of shade- I think we stopped around 1130?
Today ended up being a game of leap frog- example: we passed a man named Ron hiding in the shade. We walked a mile and found shade for ourselves, and a little while later Ron passed us. Then, as we started walking, we passed Ron in the next shady area. It wasn’t just Ron, though, it was everyone!! For whatever reason, despite parts of the day having a downhill grade, we were all fryin’! And oh so thirsty!!
The water report for this section was pretty shitty- from Mike’s, our first opportunity to fill was at mile 136.5, and honestly our last good chance before mile 145.4- look at the water report for the other two water sources!!
Around 1330 we reached the water source at mile 136.5- it was an incredibly small creek with maybe a flow somewhere if we looked hard enough? We had to dig a bit in the sand to fill our bottles, and we ended up collecting bugs, debris, and sand. Preston and Corey were also at this site and desperate for water at that point- they were draining that creek as best as they could! Matt and I still had a few liters left for ourselves, so we each filled half a liter just in case- but we didn’t filter it just yet for fear it would clog our filters.
Just about a hundred feet ahead we came across more of our pals from the night before, some hiding in the shade, others trying to filter from another trickle of water. Guys, it was HOT! And today’s water game: which is better? Dead fly pool or sandy trickle? Algae filled or sulphur/fart smelling? Orange water with a layer of dead bugs on top? Lord we were thirsty!
Matt and I decided to continue our journey of climbing & descending & climbing until we reached mile 140. At 3350 feet, it was only uphill from here- so damnit we climbed! We had 5.4 miles to go until Mary’s Place. One foot in front of the other. Drinking enough water to wet our mouths and stay slightly hydrated, but careful not to deplete our water too soon. We passed more people escaping the sun in the shade of trees and boulders. Those with bigger shade spots invited us to sit with them, but Matt and I were determined- we pressed on.
At 1615, around mile 142, we saw a sign: “water ahead, approximately 1 mile!!” BUT, how old was that sign? We knew it was a cache, and caches were NOT to be depended on! (Caches were supplied by trail angels, and you never knew if they would refill them throughout the season or do a one and done water drop.) At mile 143 we found the cache. I was sooo excited to see a few gallons left, then realized that while the gallons were full, the lids were slightly dirty and the caps were not sealed. It DID appear to be better than the dirty creek water, though, so we dumped the fly water and filled a liter each of this new water into dirty bottles- we figured we should filter it, especially after my water fiasco at Mike’s Place.
The last 2.4 miles to Mary’s Place was a trek. Again, one foot in front of the other. We were running out of water, but we were getting closer. The last 0.3 miles were torture. Then, a sign!
Mary’s Place!! Song of the day: Bruce’s Mary’s Place- I kept singing the lyrics “meet me at Mary’s place, I heard she has a potty!”
We spent the evening with some of our friends from Mike’s Place. A few others apparently camped just before Mary’s Place- too hot to continue on, unsure if there would be space, and even fewer continued on beyond Mary’s Place- they were nuts!!
We went to bed excited: tomorrow we would have flush toilets, cold beverages, and a warm meal!!
Happiness is: Mary’s Place!! Since Mike’s place was actually a property with a house, I was expecting the same at Mary’s Place. Turns out Mary’s Place is just truly an oasis! Mary is a lovely lady with a real tiny house on a big piece of property. She has opened up a small piece of that property to thru hikers, where she supplies picnic tables, a library, shade, a water tank(*needs to be filtered!*), a beautiful pit toilet (smells like a pit toilet, looks like a real bathroom!), a garbage can, and a shower!!! The shower is a “bucket shower” but not really- you fill a water dispenser from the water tank, then inside the shower there is a shelf where you place the dispenser. Open the spigot and you have a real shower!! Mary is a genius! And so kind- she stopped by with her puppy while we were there. It was great to meet them. (Rumor has it Mary purchased the land because it was on the PCT and she wanted to support hikers!)