Miles: 22 + 1 for water detours
Water: 1L from camp; 1.5 from Bear Trap Creek; 1L creek beside Qunicy-La Porte Road; 3L from Fowler Creek
Hikers congregate around water sources again, taking long lunch breaks in the shade near springs. We sit in the dust, eating and napping near little signs that mark the side trails to ever-scarcer trickles. I take these detours from the PCT, down steep side trails, no longer having the lazy luxury of waiting for some to cross directly in my path.
Partway through the day, I walk off trail, a long half-mile down the paved road, planning to have lunch by the creek that is supposed to be there. I end up having lunch date with a culvert, sitting in what is barely more than a ditch, watching a small stream disappear into the darkness under the road. The water tastes like dirt. So it goes.
Despite the water detours, I managed some real miles today, easing worries about needing to ration food, and making Ashland feel for real possible. I just did the math, and I need to do twenty-three miles each and every day, without break to make it by August 12. And somehow, this really does feel possible. So crazy to think back, just over two months ago, when I had not yet hiked a single twenty, and here I am calmly planning to crush 480 miles in three weeks.
The trail is mostly in the trees today, nice for shade, less exciting for views. I am clearly not the only one starting to feel the monotony of these foresty hills. Someone has been writing creative PCT signs, filling in blank white diamonds marking the trail with amusing acronyms. Sharpie graffiti technically, but it is quite amusing to pass by the signs for “Politically Correct Thoroughfare,” and twenty miles later, “Pork Chop Taco.” I didn’t see anyone other than Pee Sea Tee hikers today anyway, though others reported a pair headed south. Elusive PCT south bounders or just weekenders we do not know. I missed them, because tyvek nap time.
I am camped on a tree-covered hilltop, with two couples for company. We are hovering around our thirties, and get along quite fabulously. In the minor bustle of setting up camp, and making dinner I overhear one hiker say to the other: “honey, the garlic mashed potato ramen is ready.” I giggle quietly to myself at how this has become a) a meal and b) completely unremarkable.