Leaving town is hard. After four days of good rest, my feet are mostly healed and my leg wound has a nice enough scab, I feel it's OK to hike out on. It still hurts, but it's totally manageable. Me, AJ and Annie all are dreading the big climb up Mt. Baden Powell. We pull up our maps and our Guthooks app to look at the elevation.
"40 switchbacks! Woof," says Annie. We all want to call her Woof, but she's still undecided about the trail name.
I make a strong, strong pot of french press from ground I had bought for our host, Rich. I eat an avocado and some left over tritip from memorial day weekend. Today is Memorial Day and we plan on the trail being very busy. Rich drive us out to the trailhead.
When we get there, there's a few cars and families milling about. I hit the trail with fresh enthusiasm. I am so happy to be back on trail! Oh PCT with you're usually smooth grade and comfortably predictable ways, and well trod obvious churning and twisting path. You're beautiful and carry so many memories of so many people that came before us, I think.
Clarks nutcrackers call and I see a few bluebirds. We're all anticipating the big climb up to 9.4k feet. For now though, the trail is rolling and even drops down a bit before we hit the parking lot to begin our climb. We all stop at a bench and eat some food and pop a few caffeine pills. We make use of the pit toilets and watch folks and families begin their hike to the top, with little American flags stuck in their packs.
I eat some sour patch kids and swig my orange Gatorade powder drink. I put in some Ariel Pink and then... I'm, off!
Not 20 feet up am I huffing and my muscles burning like hell. So, this is how it'll be.
I pass a few folks in day packs and clean laundry smelling cloths. They nod at us in recognition that we're thruhikers. Switchback after switchback. Soon, we stop for our first water source. A small spring just .2 miles off trail seeping out of a hole in the ground.
Annie and I sit on an edge watching small song birds and hummingbirds. We collect our water slowly and eat sugary snacks to propell us up and up. Soon, we're back at it. Climbing up and up. I hit patches of snow and slip and kick a few steps for better grip.
I round a corner to the greatest view. Small gliders sore through the air and we touch the trunk of a 1500 year old tree.
We reach the summit, where we are acosted by a large amount of flying beatles. Annie , AJ and I move to the summit monument, where we make lunch and take a nap in the high altitude sun. It burns our skin and we don't linger for very long.
We dip down and cross a little bit more snow. We're after Little Jimmy campground, whee there's a small spring.
I hike alone for a good long while and it feels nice. The sun is setting and casting dramatic shadows on the hills and surrounding mountains.
Soon, I drop down and can hear voices echoing through the woods. I've reached the spring. There's a small crowd of hikers I don't know. Since I took all that time off, I moved away and lost ground with the folks I started with. We're now in a small forgin bubble of folks. They're standoffish and a few of them a little rude to us, as we collect water and filter it. Annie packed out some wine, and we share it between the three of us. We feel absolutely beat, like we did a 20+ mile day. We wander into camp and there's a small crowd of folks and a few people we know.
I drop my pack and pull out my food bag. I assemble a pot of ramen with spam in it. All that good salty stuff.
Night descends on us. I can hear cars and motorcycles along a nearby road. We're getting closer and closer to LA and you can see and hear it, the well paved roads leak in like veins.
I made my bed near a stone grill to block the wind. Folks linger around the fire for a long time and I sleep to the sound of their voices booming around the trees.