Day 5: In Search of Shade

April 22, 2017

Total miles: 15.4 miles

Start: Scissors Crossing (mile 77.4)

End: mile 92.7

Total elevation gain/loss: 2974.7/1306.8ft

We slept in a bit this morning and didn’t leave Carmen’s until after 8am. We missed out on her legendary breakfast burritos, but we couldn’t afford to leave any later given the temperatures expected today. Again, I think it’s worth repeating how amazingly generous Carmen has been with PCT hikers. She really does greet us with open arms. We were sure to leave an extra tip as we left to show our appreciation.

We caught a hitch near the Post Office with Dan and his dog Teddy. You should have seen the look of excitement in Michael’s eyes when Dan said that he could give us a ride if Teddy could sit in someone’s lap. Maybe the highlight of his day.

View from our initial climb

There was trail magic at Scissors Crossing — someone making pancakes — but we’d just had our trail breakfast (no hiker hunger yet) and we were eager to hit the trail. The section ahead is known for being a hot and waterless climb and it was already 9:30am. We had about 15 miles to go before water.

I love these cactuses!

We climbed up and up before leveling out a bit. The trail hugs the hills here and we were constantly walking around the rolling hills. It’s clear that we’re in the desert here. It’s hot. There are tons of cactus. And there is no shade. Thankfully we brought our own shade in the form of our umbrellas. They were a lifesaver and we were able to use them until late afternoon when the wind became too strong to manage.

Michael hiking with his umbrella.

We spent much of the day in search of bits of shade to rest. No bit was too small since we could supplement it with umbrellas (I lie, some bits were too small). The need to escape the sun and heat meant the miles were a bit slower in coming today than they were yesterday.

Michael managed to fit in a quick nap during one of our shade breaks.

Apparently today was supposed to be fairly hot — a bunch of the people that we saw in Julian opted to wait until this evening to walk in cooler weather. Despite the heat, I was actually feeling pretty good today. My feet still hurt, but it’s more of a faint constant pain, instead of a stabbing sensation. I felt energetic and strong as we powered our way up the mountain.

We walked apart for most of the day, typically with me in front and Michael a few minutes behind. It’s funny how we were together almost 24/7 while traveling but hiking gives us hours of “alone” time. This was especially the case because we saw almost no one today. We leap-frogged with three hikers and saw a couple going southbound, but no one else until we reached the water cache.

The water cache at mile 91.2 is known as the “third gate” cache. This made more sense once I was on the trail — it’s right after the third cattle guard gate that you cross in this section. Some amazing people must work really hard to keep this cache stocked. There were pallets of 3.5 liter bottles full of precious water. Without the cache, it’s 25 miles between water sources.

We won’t normally really on water caches, but this one was supposed to be reliable, so it was a welcome sight. We’d carried 6 liters between the two of us (Michael doing the heavy lifting due to my feet), and there wasn’t much left.

At the water cache we chatted with Clark Kent/Hiccups and Reptar while we made dinner. Feeling refreshed, we opted to hike a bit further instead of camping near the cache (maybe a dozen people were hidden away in the various bushes).

Sunset in the hills. It’s amazing how much cooler it was walking in the evening.

The first two campsites we passed we occupied, so after 2 miles we grabbed the first available one (it didn’t look like there was much coming up). It’s a bit exposed, but the wind seems to be calming down, so fingers crossed. With another night of dry camping it’s funny to see how quickly hygiene goes out the window. We simply wipe down our dusty legs with a dry bandana before donning our wool base layer. And to think we were clean this morning!

Home for the night.

Current ailments:

Elizabeth: 7 old blisters (no new ones!!)

Michael: 1 new blister; misc. muscle tightness

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