October 11, 2017
Couch Camp – Didn’t make it to Whitewater Preserve but that’s OK Camp
33.6 miles/12 hours
I am too tired to write. Epic day. All I can say is 24 gallon water cache, I met a wonderful fast and strong SOBO named Boomer from Germany and it was a long, long day.
October 12, 2017
Cow Shit Camp – Unintended Cooler Meltwater Trail Magic Relief Camp
29 miles/11 1/2 hours
I have stooped to new lows. Not sure if I should be disgusted or proud. Gonna say the latter. Oh what a long day that began with waking up and thinking ‘WTF I guess I’m up let’s walk’ at 2:25am. Why not? I’m walking well before 4am. If there was a good day to start so early it is this day. Camp is so low and destination so high, I begin the rhythm of pace I can maintain for an epic span of miles.
Mt San Jacinto in the early morning light with a glowing teddy bear cholla in the valley. I may or may not have been eating a big bag of dill pickle chips at this moment.
Those miles come easy after two very short days and an abundance of fuel (food) replenishing the calorie deficit normal for anyone on trail. You just cannot carry enough for the output and that’s ok. Town is the place to give-er on the food. Always. Then I hit the cable-ravaged trail section. Hard to keep the trail in the dark. I feel for the trail maintenance crews who’s efforts are literally trampled.
I pass Boomer on the big climb up Mt San Jacinto only because he’s on his phone with a big smile on his face. He soon re-passes me but doesn’t disappear until we chat in the shade of a boulder. What a wonderful person. Before I see him I make a new acquaintance in a rattle snake in the middle of his mid-morning snack, a mouse, legs and tail sticking out of said mouse’s mouth, rattle going all out on his other end. I gasp then laugh because his mouth is literally full. Water for the valley crossing was at the trail magic spot under the I-10 then the fountain every PCT hiker knows about at the northern base of the massive climb out of the desert. I leave the fountain with 3 1/2 litres and hope it’s enough. Don’t want to carry more. The umbrella/sunbrella makes all the difference in the heat. It really does. It’s carry more/hike less or hike more/carry less. The latter is more appealing for sure.
Rattler enjoying a mid-morning snack
But back to Boomer, one of the few SOBO hikers I meet on the entire 1350 mile walk I am on. He’s tired and thinking about the fire closure ahead, what to do, seems ready to be done his hike but still is in great spirits. I would be too if I was that strong. his stride is 50% longer than mine and we are the same height. I do believe I weigh at least 30 lbs more though so…well let’s just say I’m lugging more girth that this greyhound of a hiker. I try to give a little pep talk, ‘only 200 miles to go, desert miles, maybe not as hard? (ya right), after a few days at home you will miss the trail etc etc…’ but I know we all come to our own conclusions out here. Especially when there are so few people out on the trail. I do hope he finishes though, it would be a shame to stop.
Up, up, up I walk…so far up but it’s a mellow grade and I’m enjoying it. At about the 11 1/2 th hour I come into an empty camp area. Ahead of me I see a bright red cooler on a picnic table. Nobody else is around. No cars. No people. Just me and this TRAIL MAGIC, I think. My hopes are high. Is it soda? Beer? Apples? Candy????? What oh what is in that cooler that somebody strategically left there for us hikers walking through. What kind of magic?
I walk over. Open it up. My heart sinks. It is melted ice that is now water with a ziplock bag with an empty tin of chewing tobacco. But then I think…water…this is water and if I have water I can stop for the day. I can camp here and filter this water and end the day now when I am tired not yet exhausted. It’s unintentional trail magic and I am so damn stoked. I drain the cooler into my dirty water bottles just in case, filter it all and am left with 3 litres, as well as a bit to do a little water bottle shower rinse. Sweet.
Why not. Why the hell not.
Cooler water camp on Fuller Ridge
There are the things you do on trail, folks, and the gratitude levels do not get any higher than these beautiful moments of receiving even someone else’s leftovers or meltwater or kindness. I am so fucking happy.