Day 23: Hot Springs Time

Total miles: 24.5 miles 

Start: mile 296.6

End: mile 321.0

Total elevation gain/loss: 2505.9/4150.3ft

We’re still getting the hang of waking up early again after our zeros. I set the alarm for 5am, but we ended up hitting the snooze button a couple times. Once again, we woke to a wet tent. I guess my theory about yesterday’s condensation being due to camping near water wasn’t entirely correct.

I love the early morning sun!

We had a couple miles to go before coming across a large bridge over a creek. Nearby was Splinter’s cabin, complete with a bathroom and trash cans. Score!

Apparently going down to the creek to get water was unnecessary since there was a spigot at the cabin. Oh well.

Soon enough we hit mile 300! I met Michelle (from Germany), Hannah (my gear twin), and Kevin at the stone marker while waiting for Michael. Lots of new people now that we’re back in the trail!

This morning’s walk was dramatic. The trail was cut into the walls of a canyon with a rushing river at the bottom. It’s weird to be checking the water report for where the next water is located when you’re staring down at it the whole time. But, alas, it was out of reach. Photos can’t do the scenery justice.

Lunch today was a great because we times it with a cubist to the Deep Creek hot springs, which the PCT goes right by. We expected a lot of locals and nudity, but since it was a weekday it wasn’t too crowded. There was one local going around like he owned the place. He was nice enough but would randomly say things that made us do a double take (like when he talked about how many “people” were there versus ” hikers”). He also seemed annoyed that we wouldn’t follow his advice and drink the river water without filtering it (or maybe it was that we didn’t take the hot spring water straight from the source?), but we always filter and the water report warned of the stream’s high fecal matter…

The river near the hot springs. Not pictured is the huge pile of trash left by locals (no thru hiker would be carrying a towel or cotton t-shirt).

One of the hot spring pools.

Anyways, the hot springs were nice, but the day was pretty hot so we enjoyed cooling off in the streams more than baking in the springs. Still a nice way to spend a lunch break.

Looking back at the hot spring area.

The rest of the afternoon was hit and exposed. Today made me think of a freakonomics podcast episode that I’d just listened to about the headwind/tailwind effect. Namely that we underestimate our advantages and overestimate our challenges. Today felt like a lot of uphill even though I knew that we were following the river and therefore going primarily downhill. At least the numbers back we up that there was a decent amount of uphill!

A rainbow bridge!

Another milestone: 500 kilometers.

After leaving the canyon, we passed a seemingly oversized dam before tackling a thigh-high (on me) river crossing. Nothing challenging, just bizzare when we feel like we’re often making decisions based on where we can find water. Today, this meant loading up on water so that we could hopefully find a spot to dry camp.

The huge dam in the distance.

There was a lot of uncertainty about camping options in the upcoming section because of a recent fire, with some saying that you shouldn’t plan to camp at all in a 15-mike stretch. But we didn’t want to stop early in the day, so we continued on.  

Just as we were going up our final climb before looking for a camping spot we came upon Brewhiker with trail magic. He offered either a cold soda or beer and we both opted for soda (thinking we should opt for the most hydrating option). I can’t explain it, but there’s something about thru hiking that has made me obsessed with orange soda (he had Cactus Cooler). Apparently we weren’t alone in choosing soda. Brewhiker said he’d seen about 8 people before us and all but one took a soda!

High on our trail magic, it was now time to find a place to sleep. This turned out to be tougher than we’d imagined. There were very few flat spots and those that we found were either exposed to the strong winds that had picked up in the afternoon and/or in the soft ground from the burn. Finally, we found a semi-protected spot up a dry creek bed from the trail that was hidden behind a couple trees. The spot actually isn’t too bad (I hope) and much better going another 7 miles to the next established camping area.  

Modeling our camping spot.

Thanks Lily for the gift!

We’ll be cowboy camping tonight since the evening is much warmer (and I’m lazy).

Current ailments:

Elizabeth: one new (small) blister. Otherwise still feeling good!

Michael: tight leg muscles.

2 thoughts on “Day 23: Hot Springs Time

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