Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Big-Mile Day!

June 12: Amanda dropped me off at Walker Pass early in the morning. I needed an early start. On this part of the trail, there's not many roads crossing the trail--certainly not roads easy for a rental car to drive on--so slackpacking was out. No, I'd have to hike the next 50 miles with a full pack, and I planned to meet Amanda again at Kennedy Meadows the next afternoon. Two days, 50 miles, equals 25 miles per day.

The longest day I've hiked thus far is 23 miles, so it was a little ambitious for me to commit to two consecutive 25 mile days, but I thought it was doable. Especially since my pack was relatively light. I would only need to carry enough food for two days and one night, after all.

So she dropped me off at Walker Pass, a little before 8:00, where we saw Sneezes, Josh, and Dorian. Josh was from France, the first Frenchman I've seen on the trail. Quite the international trail. I don't think I mentioned it, but back in Agua Dulce, I met Brazilnut who hails from Brazil. Dorian also spoke French, but of the Canadian variety. Sneezes is from Southern California, which some people would call a country of its own. =)

They pulled ahead of me. I lingered back to find a letterbox with Amanda, then we parted ways and I hit the trail. At a minimum, I planned to do at least 25 miles. If I could do more, even better! Means fewer miles to worry about the next day.

I caught up with Sneezes relatively quickly, and we hiked together for the better part of an hour. At a shady place on the trail, I stopped for a quick snack break while Sneezes decided to continue on to a spring ahead where he wanted to stop for lunch. I wanted to hike a lot longer before I stopped for lunch! The trail was climbing a huge hump of a mountain, but I was making excellent time already, and estimated that I had knocked out about twelve miles before noon.

Two days of resting my feet probably hadn't hurt matters either!

At the sign for the Joshua Tree Spring, I found a small note taped to the sign that read "for GT." Me? Hmm... Interesting.... I pulled off the note, reading "Gwita Morka!" Charmin. Kind of funny, I thought. She didn't even have to sign the note, but just reading those two words, it was as good as a signature. I was even more amused that she used my "American accent" to write the phrase rather than proper Swiss-German.

"Catch me if you can." Taunting me. Since Agua Dulce, I've always been ahead of her on the trail, but with the two zero days I took off, this was the first time she was ahead of me on the trail. I'd heckled her about catching up to me, so I guess it was only fair for her to return the favor.

She timestamped the note about a day and a half earlier, so unless she was hiking very slow, I doubted that I would catch her. It was fun finding a note for me, though. I hadn't been expecting one.

I shoved the note in my pocket and kept hiking. It wasn't time to stop for lunch yet. No, I still needed to hike some miles. At least until I stopped for lunch at a small creek that was on the trail, about 17 miles from where I started at Walker Pass. I was pretty impressed with myself. That alone I still considered a full day's hike, and I knocked it out by lunchtime. I stopped a couple of times to eat snacks, but not for more than five-or-so minutes. It was essentially a non-stop hike.

Then I pulled out a a red delicious apple. It was time to crack my second apple. I grabbed, I grunted, I strained.... and finally the apple cracked. Like the gala the day before, however, it was an uneven, ragged split. Argh! Why can't I do this?

While eating one part of the apple, another hiker without a pack traveling southbound passed by. Or rather, I waved him down, and he stopped long enough to chat. His name was Jeremy, and him and his friends were planning to hike the next couple of months up the trail. He left a water bottle behind, however, and was backtracking to retrieve it. I gave him the other half of my apple, then he moved out.

I stayed for an hour--a short lunch by my standards--then put on my shoes and kept hiking. Must. Do. Miles.

The second half of the day, I hiked considerably slower. My feet were hurting a bit more, and my legs were feeling a bit more tired, but I kept going. I passed Dorian and Josh, and late in the afternoon, reached the 25-mile mark for the day. I had reached my goal!

There were still a couple of hours of daylight left, however, and no water available where I was now. I wanted to cook a dinner, and I wanted to get as many miles as I could in. If I could hold out for another four miles, I could camp next to a creek. Yes, four more miles.... it was doable....

I was limping by now. My feet screaming at me to stop, but I kept pushing on to Chimney Creek. The sun had already set, but it was not yet dark. Two tents were set up in a clearing, and I called out to them. "Hello, there!"

Silence. Were the tents abandoned?

"Is anyone out there?" I asked.

I heard a thump come from one of the tents, and a voice call out. "Huh? Who? Sorry about that. I just woke up."

I apologized for waking her up, but found out the two hikers were New Jersey and Gramma Lissa. I didn't want to disturb them any further, so I introduced myself then went off to set up my own camp. I set up on the other side of the trail. The weather forecast I checked said that there was a 20% chance of thunderstorms overnight, and I wanted to avoid camping near the particularly large, prominent tree they had decided to camp under.

I threw out my groundsheet, took the shoes off of my aching feet, then went to sleep. I was too exhausted to actually cook dinner. Here I walked, 29.2 miles according to my guidebook, specifically because I wanted to camp near water, then I didn't even use it. *shaking head* 'Twas a long day, but I was exhausted.

During the month of August, I'll be participating with Amanda in the Washington Trail Association's Hike-a-Thon. If you haven't already, please consider sponsoring us. (Especially me!) The folks do great work helping to fix up and maintain trails such as the Pacific Crest Trail and help make thru-hikes such as mine possible. If you enjoy reading this blog, consider giving something back to the trails that make it possible. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

Yeah You did it! You pushed yourself and you did 4.2 miles more than you had thought you would do for the day!! ****throws confetti****

Okie Dog said...

Nice pic of your apple, not so bad of a break, it looks good enough to eat, can't beat that.

Smatt said...

Very manly indeed! I've only cracked one apple, and it was a miserable messy break. Looks to me like you're already ahead of the game.

I'm keeping up with Karma and his wife who are hiking north. Do you know where you are in relation to them?

Keep up the entertaining posts, Manly Man!

Ryan said...

Last time I saw Karma and Detective Bubbles (his wife), they were hitching a ride into Tehachapi. I'm somewhere ahead of them, but I have no idea HOW far ahead I am. They see my register entries, but I can't see theirs. =)

-- Ryan

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I'm exhausted reading about that's day's hike. whew!

Practice makes perfect with breaking this apples. You'll be a pro in no time.

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers