PCT Day 107, Double Flip and a Flop, Day 26

July 28
Mile 1719.2 (Callahan’s Lodge) to mile 1732, 12.8 miles, no off-trail miles!

PCT mileage: 946.2

Running total: 1057.4
We slept in(-ish), as breakfast didn’t start until 8am and who can leave an all-you-can-eat pancake joint without eating any pancakes?? I vetoed Matthew’s idea for a 6am alarm and instead alarms were set for 0745. We were headed to breakfast minutes after 8!
We each enjoyed our plate of pancakes with scrambled eggs & fruit & Matthew got a bonus(/my) serving of bacon! And then we each enjoyed a second plate of pancakes. And then we shared a third. Calm down, they were super thin.
After breakfast we went back to the room to pack, where we both randomly and separately checked the current air quality in the area: it wasn’t good. We were in the red, at an “unhealthy” level. Well shit, kids! What the fuck do we do now? Why, we Google, of course! Matthew researched the long-term effects of smoke exposure while I drifted to the lobby to interview anyone and everyone.
I ended up attacking our waiter from breakfast, Trail Mix, who has spent most of his adult life in southern Oregon and is an avid PCT section hiker. He said he would not hesitate to hike in the current conditions, as the smoke sits in the valley and will improve as we gain elevation AND he doesn’t have any underlying respiratory conditions. Okay, good. But, if you have ever worked with me, you know that I need to survey at least 3827 people before making any important decision, and so next I attacked the lovely lady at the front desk. She, too, said that she would hike but added that her child, who has respiratory issues, couldn’t even play outside on a day like today.
I returned to the room feeling better about heading out into wilderness, especially after finding out that in his Googling, Matthew didn’t find any negative long-term effects of smoke exposure- but that’s mostly because there is very little research done on the long-term effects of prolonged smoke exposure for adults! (Hmmm, possibly a research project I could get in on? Matt said he found research done on children saying that the prolonged smoke exposure causes issues with children’s immune systems, even as they grow older- but for adults, most doctors believe that any negative effects of smoke are removed once the smoke exposure ends….but without much research, is that just an assumption?? Gosh I’m fascinated!)
So, we made the decision to hit the trail. We asked for a late check-out and were given until 1130- which we utilized down to the last second! When we got to the lobby we ran into Mango, a really cool lady we had met with her husband Bluejay at Wee Ville Market at mile 517. They are from Providence, Rhode Island, where my brother and his wife had lived for the last few years, so we had bonded over that for a bit. Bluejay was currently nursing an injury in Ashland, so Mango came to knock out a few more miles on the trail solo. Badass!!
We also met Tough Cookie, another badass lady. She and her husband have been living on a 42 foot sailboat for the past 7 years and three years ago they set sail from San Diego around the world to Sydney, Australia. They spent 3 years sailing, exloring some of the most magical places on Earth! Their teenage son didn’t want anything to do with the journey so they had waited for him to graduate high school before their grand adventure, only taking along their 16 year old daughter. My mind was blown!! Tough Cookie said she had gained weight from that lifestyle, so she decided to hike the PCT. Her husband joined her for the desert section and decided to quit when they hit the Sierra- so Tough Cookie flipped by herself to Trout Lake, Washington and hiked SoBo solo. Her daughter will meet up with her for a small section coming up, and then her husband will join to summit Mt. Whitney. He is currently staying with family in Kansas while he converts a van for them to live in while they shop around for another boat. My mind is blown- so many people are living the dream!! Sidenote, if anyone in Australia is in the market for a new sailboat, I know someone!!!
Somehow the morning turned into afternoon, and it wasn’t until 1pm that we were ready to go. Matt and I exploded out the doors confidently, ready to conquer the mountains, when we realized we had no friggin idea where the trail was. I sulked back into the hotel and found Trail Mix, who was enthusiastically giving me directions when a man interrupted, saying he would be happy to drive us to the trail! The man, Buckley, had started back in March in Campo with a thru-hike attempt but was now back in Oregon. He dropped us off at the trailhead and we were off…

I was tired & sore and not enjoying the hiking, but Matt was really enjoying the day! I felt like I was walking in cement shoes again, but it turned out we were doing less than 23 minute miles- not terrible!

There is some water I’d consider drinking without filtering…this puddle? Never. Why this requires a sign is a bit concerning

We stopped for water at a spring where we found Beats Working (I incorrectly remembered his name as Better Than Working, oops!) We also met Teflon and Close Call- they had flipped from Kennedy Meadows to NorCal and have been hiking north since BUT they had some family emergency that took them off trail for 2 weeks and they, too, were just returning. So wild, it turns out that we were all at Hiker Heaven within a day of each other and might even have overlapped! It’s such a small hiker world, even with all of the flipping- or maybe more-so with all of the flipping!

We filled up our bottles and planned to carry on for a few more miles before setting up camp. Oregon reminds me a lot of Southern California- it’s very dusty AND we have incredibly long water carries.
About a mile past the water we saw the most beautiful site: Raspberry came rushing towards us exclaiming, “I knew I’d see you today!!”
It was great catching up with her! We hadn’t seen her since Tehachapi 😦
We took a selfie and said our goodbyes before carrying on.

We arrived to our tentsite and it was windy which was awesome since that meant NO MOSQUITOS!!! And from our many windy-hell nights in the desert, we were pros at setting up our tyvek “ground sheet” and tent in the wind. I stood outside of the tent while I slowly emptied the contents of my pack into the tent AND blew up my air mattress. Why? Because I could without getting eaten alive.

We enjoyed the beautiful, slightly smokey evening outside, eating our Mountain House meals while running around trying to avoid the yellow jackets that are apparently everywhere.

Sidenote: Matt has officially banned me from packing Mountain House meals- I can never finish them, and since we “leave no trace,” somebody has to…he’s a trooper.

Also, wtf is this & why is he chilling on my foot?!

We had a pretty spectacular sunset

We retired to our tent, did our nightly routine of calculating our PCT miles for the day and looking at tomorrow’s terrain then fell asleep.

Happiness is: pancake breakfast, running into an old friend, finding a random pit toilet, AND no mosquitos at the campsite!!!!

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