Water: 2L dripping from pipe up side of creek bed; 2L from ‘guzzler’ cistern
We earned a good rest and are not afraid to take it. After 9am, and no one is close to packing up. Still lounging in bed in the grassy patch near the creepy toilet, which my trail notes describe as “abandoned”. Finally, I hike out to jokes about having lunch at the actual campground a half mile away, the campground we did not quite reach last night.
The side trail just passed where we stopped for the night becomes a gauntlet of poison oak I only partially successfully navigate while imagining how disastrous this would have been in the dark. I dodge it poodle-style, but still a small branch brushes my gaitor. I hope for the best. It is also just wet enough to host more obnoxious flies and the odd mosquito.
Back on the PCT, and I am walking slowly. Feet battered by the pavement. Not really feeling like hiking at all today. My pack is a huge burden, though it is not especially heavy at the moment. I trudge along until I catch the others for lunch. We take an extended break. I nap. I don’t quite wake up. It’s 3pm and we’ve only done 6 PCT miles.
After my lunch nap I have a sneeze attack. Possibly allergies. Possibly flies. Each deep inhale draws live insects into my airways. I walk uphill, sucking in live flies and sneezing them out dead. For a least twenty repeats in two miles. I drip snot on the trail, wipe my nose on my gloves, sleeves, a stick, and begin to worry about how much water I losing. Then my eyes start puffing up and my mouth feels funny I think allergies, but to what? Flies? Grass all of the sudden? To hiking when I don’t want to?
I feel I am far behind, lagging, dragging, consumed with doubt feelings between nose wipes and fly spitting. But others are not feeling it either and have stopped again only two miles up where they gather water from a ‘guzzler’ cistern, a corrugated metal surface that channels rain water into a plastic holding tank. You crawl under the low roof, unscrew a lid and dip water out. And hope any creatures that found their way in, were smart enough to make it back out. I have been nervous about these sources; too many tales of having to drink ‘dead lizard water’. This is the beginning of the driest stretch of the PCT and we must take what water we are lucky enough to get.
I push on, hoping to still make a day of it, joining forces with Shenanigans, playing alphabet games. Apple, Banana, Cantaloupe, Durian…..We plan to make more miles, but Bad Camper has staked out an amazing view campsite, desert spread below, sunset visible to one side and full moon rising on the other. It is exactly the kind of place I am out here to enjoy. We cut out losses with a short day, justified with vague gestures toward an early morning start.
And we did pass mile 500 today. Almost a third of California, and most of the part that detours west. Time to stop walking into sunsets and get our North on again. So that’s something.
Cowboy camped way up in the hills, we watch the lights of a distant wind farm blink their red warning to the night.