5/17 – 5/19/2013
29.6 miles, including .9 hike in and out
Mileage driven 199
Lots of Firsts
We keep learning things that we could have and should have learned earlier. There are lots of little tricks that are surfacing, even now, a full year after starting segment hiking the PCT. Sometimes I can’t believe how stupid we are. Like, trekking poles: when we first started, we decided that we would simply share a single set, each of us using one. All this time it’s worked out fine. But Patti read an article recently about poles and how much they help with balance and leverage. We also learned we weren’t using the poles right. They need to be adjusted dependent on if you are going up or down. So, last week we went out and bought Patti her own poles. Because she is so short, she got away with buying kids poles, saving $30, Patti reminds me. We each used two poles this trip. What a difference! Our feet, legs, knees, my shoulders – all felt great, and my chronic neck and arm pain, all gone. Climbing up and down the mountains was much, much easier and faster. The more we relied on our poles, we developed a rhythm in our gait.
Another first was doing a little more than six miles at night, using our new headlamps which worked out great. While it’s true you lose the landscape and panoramic views, you instead get great shadows along the trail dancing around the brush on either side, colors of flowers you don’t ordinarily see, and also hear sounds we don’t hear during the day. Hiking this segment during the evening hours made perfect sense as it’s mostly desert. I think that previously, if anyone mentioned night hiking, I probably would have immediately dismissed the idea. But now that we’ve done it, we did really enjoy it. We’ll be doing more of it.
Another first this trip was losing the big Nikon Digital SLR camera. This trip we relied entirely on our iPhones for pictures. It was liberating to not have the camera, in a way. I had been attaching it to a hasp attached to a strap velcro-attached to my left pack strap. But it was constantly in the way and would have made hiking with two poles impossible anyway. While I regret losing the quality of the SLR images, I’m happy to have my left arm back. That’s what I was always using to keep the camera at bay.
After hiking at night on Friday, we found a campsite under a bunch of boulders and slept without a tent for another first. Is it still cowboy camping if you have boulders over your head? Patti worried about the boulders falling in an earthquake. I worried a little about cougars, not that we saw or heard any. We were able to get dinner eaten and get our “camp” set up very quickly, and we got a much earlier start on Saturday not having to deal with the tent. Tent-less time saved was 15 minutes. In the morning Patti remarked that she wanted to stare at the stars but fell asleep so quickly. It was a cloudy night so there were no stars to see. No loss then.
It was fun catching up with a few thru-hikers at Mike’s place. This was our first opportunity to see the Trail Angel karma at work. Crash greeted us at the top of the hill and welcomed us down to the house. Work Horse had fresh coffee on and it was delicious. Who needs Starbucks? We ran into the sisters, Taylor and Danielle from Oregon. On the trail, we later met Kate and Cougar Bait, Luke, Dan and his brother, Paul, and others. Such a great camaraderie among the thru-hikers. It’s such a pleasure to see all the good energy on the trail and between the hikers. We both have a ton of respect for each of them. Doing the thru-hike is so much more than what we are doing. We wish them all well and safe travels.
According to Half-Mile’s elevation maps, this segment had a 1500-feet shift. Most of the trail was flat but there were some challenging (and hot) climbs. Patti kept telling me that I should rest more when I began to feel mild sun-stroke symptoms and to much of her surprise, I actually listened, eventually.
Oh, another first…we did this trip with no hot food. We left the stove, fuel and pot at home. I ate a lot of jerky and Patti ate some weird vegetarian fake-food wrap from Jimbos. I just don’t get it. We catered to our coffee-junkie needs by bringing Starbuck’s Via. It actually was pretty good. We still need to learn how to plan our meals better. We always end up with lots left over. It was hard to trust that there would be water on the trail, but that certainly was not a problem this trip.
Patti also decided we would start reporting how many miles it takes to go round trip. These miles include dropping off both cars at each trail head. That’s what the 199 miles above means.
On a bit of a side note: When we were on the trail a few weeks ago in the San Felipe Mountains, we met UBSeRiOuS. Our brief yet meaningful encounter with this young man changed both of us. After we very quickly discussed our quests, him his and us ours, we departed. We headed south and UB, he went north. Several days later, he wrote on his blog (http://ubserious.com/), about Patti and her challenge of hiking the PCT while being treated for cancer. The outpouring of care and friendship has been overwhelming. We struggle to adequately respond. We can only say thank you and that Glow in the Dark and I will continue hiking on. And one day, we will complete the PCT.