PCT Day 168, Double Flip and a Flop with a Hop, Day 87

September 27

Mile 630.8 to mile 606.3, 24.5 PCT miles + .4 miles off trail for H²O, 24.9 miles total
PCT miles: 1784
Running total: 1941.7 miles
It was windy all night, which never makes for a restful sleep. Thankfully our site offered a small amount of wind protection, so it wasn’t as terrible as it could have been- our tent survived the night, and there were no broken legs or puncture wounds from beautiful yet ruthless Joshua Trees!
Folding the tent was a challenge- we first had to be super careful that the tent didn’t blow away as we pulled up the stakes, and then we had to fight a ballooning and dancing tent while we tried to fold it- wind, I am SO over you!!
Our first stop of the day was the water cache at Bird Spring Pass, which is maintained by local Trail Angels- there were gallons and gallons of water! These angels are amazing!!!

Hahahahahaha omg! NO thru-hiker has any upper body strength!!!!

I took the time to fill and filter 4.7 liters of water- 10.3lbs- to prepare for a 22mile water carry. (Yes, I make Matthew filter water cache water!! Most people don’t, but since I don’t 100% know where that water came from, I can’t not…)

Some Germans once asked me, “why do Americans shoot everything?”

The first few miles of the day were okay- 600 feet elevation gain in 2 miles, then about 200 feet in 1.4 miles…

But then, holy hell, helllllo desert!!

This wasn’t my typical afternoon slump (it wasn’t even the afternoon!)- this was heat. Sun. Thirst. Death. While the terrain wasn’t hard (it was a general descent with a few small climbs for the next 10 miles, the steepest climb being 430feet gain in 0.8 miles) but each step was hard- I honestly didn’t know if I could keep going. My head felt SO out of sorts, kind of like an out of body experience with both my head and my body suffering but not coherently…weird, right? I started to worry about my water- did I have enough water to make it to the next water source?? And shit…that water was located up a 2,150 foot climb over 6.6 miles in the hot desert…..fuccckkkk. Back to the desert games- drink enough so I don’t die, but not too much that I run out and die… (Wtf, this section was supposed to be easy after the Sierra!!)

Partway through the morning Matt realized that about 1.5 miles (and 400 feet) up that 2150 foot climb we would be passing by another stocked water cache, which meant that we only had a 15 mile water carry that morning! (Sidenote, reading this now, 3 months after leaving the trail, I’m like- wtf- 15 miles between water sources in the desert?? How did we do it?!)
We agreed to have lunch at the cache, which couldn’t come soon enough. It took everything I had to make it there in my haze. I had fantasized that the cache would be located in the shade of a giant Joshua Tree, which would have provided us with an escape from the unrelenting heat, but to my dismay, there were NO trees to be found for miles. The jugs of water were a beautiful site, though, and the shade of a fallen sign provided enough coverage that not all of the water was near boiling. Desperate for relief from the sun, Matt and I threw down our tyvek and huddled under the sign while we filtered hot water and ate lunch.

Exhausted, I ended up taking a quick nap.
After eating and resting, we had a decision to make: stay and set up our tent until the hottest part of the day passed (which would provide escape from the sun but we would have absolutely NO air movement and would basically bake in our oven/tent) OR continue and bake in the sun. Wanting to make progress, we decided to continue.
Since I was noticeably hurting in the heat, Matt stayed behind me. It was a slow, hot, hellish afternoon as I climbed the last 1750 feet.

After a grueling 5 miles, we reached the top of the climb. We saw a few cars & heard gun shots in the distance- hunters? Where were we?!
As we began our descent, we were shocked to find ourselves dropping into a forest! Was I dreaming?! It was amazing- how could this be the other side of that desert hell we just trudged through all day?!! The air was noticeably cooler & as our surroundings came more alive, so did we.

We continued down for about 2 miles to the junction to Landers Meadow Campground, where he had heard there was a spring, a pit toilet, AND, if we were lucky enough, toilet paper!!! As we entered the campground, we found the place packed with ATVs & hunters, all male…(what were the chances that there was still TP??!)
While Matt and I looked around searching for the spring and toilet, one of the men greeted us saying, “if you’re looking for beer, it’s here {sweeping his arm across the campground, implying that it was omnipresent} and if you need water, it’s over there {pointing to the right}.” Sweet!!
We did need water, but first we needed the bathroom. Surprisingly it only smelled bad, not terrible, AND there was TOILET PAPER!! Thank friggin goodness! (I finally told Matt that I had forgotten to pack toilet paper, so he, too, could appreciate just how amazing this was!)
After our quick break, we made our way to the piped spring. For as hot as the cache water was this afternoon, this water was FREEZING!! (Why is the water NEVER cold when we need it?)

Instead of removing the pipe from the trough and dripping it into our bottle, we dipped our dirty hands & dirty bottles into the ice cold trough- it grossed me out thinking of all the other people with gross, dirty hands that have stuck their hands in there, but oh well!
While Matt and I were sitting on the grass filtering water (grass?! Again, was this real?!!), a man came over offering us whiskey. Matt and I both declined, but we ended up chatting with this man and the 10 other guys at his campsite for a little while. They were fascinated by our thru-hike attempt, blown away by the whole broken jaw thing, and so kind to extend their party to us. I’m really going to miss being a “thru hiker”- it’s magical!
Matt and I still wanted to bang out another 2.5 miles, so once our water was filtered we said goodbye to our new friends and returned to the trail. I had a goal of returning to the PCT by 6:45, but we made it by 6:35!! Nice!!

The last few miles were easy peasy, with an elevation gain of a whopping 260feet.

The sun had set shortly after we left the campground, so we hiked the last mile or so by the light of our headlamps/Matt’s headlamp, my cell phone- my headlamp was super dim- oh, sidenote, a few towns ago I had sent my extra batteries forward in a bounce box BUT, without thinking, I then sent that box home….shhh, don’t tell Matt!!)

Finding the tent-site was a little difficult in the dark, but once we found it, the soft forest floor made for an easy set up! We enjoyed dinner outside then retreated to our tent for bed.

Even though the first half of the day was difficult, once we hit the forest it turned into a really awesome day. We went to bed excited for our last full day on trail!

Happiness is: the forest. And the awesome people we meet

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