May 27, 2017
Total miles: 23 miles
Start: mile 592.9
End: Kelso Road (mile 615.9)
Total elevation gain/loss: 3892.4/3947.5 ft
Our camp spot in the valley was hit by the early morning sun today. It was already feeling warm as we packed up. What a difference from yesterday!
We made it to a piped spring for our morning break. For this one, we had to climb over a fence to get to the water — whatever it takes to end a 19-mile dry stretch. The water sources here are where all of the hikers hang out and we see the same familiar faces each time. As I was gathering water, one of the hikers asked if I have a trail name yet. Nope, I told her. She told me that they just refer to the two of us as “the lawyers.” I guess an accurate description, although one would think that maybe the PCT would be the place where profession would matter the least.
While at the spring, we ran into a southbound hiker who was able to confirm the next couple natural water sources. That’s a big relief! He also mentioned that there are a couple water caches with a lot of water at them. I’m nervous to rely on a cache because they can be unpredictable and there are a lot of hikers this year. But, it’s nice to know that we might be able to supplement our water carries with a little water from the caches (I’m sure my hydration levels will appreciate it).
Most of this morning’s hiking was through pine trees. It’s hard to express how much I enjoy walking through sections like this. Everything is silent except the sound of my footsteps and the calls of birds. There is the smell of pine in the air. The ground is soft with fallen pine needles. Everything feels right in the world for a moment.
I found it amusing that after a couple long water carries, and with an even bigger one coming up, we actually crossed a stream a number of times today over a seven mile stretch. I actually had to focus on not getting my feet wet.
We had planned to stop for lunch at final water source for the day, but I got hungry and stopped alongside the stream a couple miles early. It looked like everyone else had the same idea — about a dozen of us lounging around on the hillside, eating our lunches and filtering water.
Our final water source for today is the last source for 34 miles! It was a another spring that is piped into a trough. The source was a little off trail and near a remote drive-on camping area. It was weird to see non-hikers driving up to fill up their 5-gallon canisters and portable showers. While they are grabbing as much water as they can get, the rest of us are trying to figure out how little water (and therefore weight) we can get away with. I grabbed about 5 liters with the hope that the caches would be good, but planning to do without if needed. Others took even more, but five liters is so heavy!!
With my pack heavy with water and food I was off again. The pine trees gave way to desert scrub and Joshua trees, and then into an old burn zone. There were so many wildflowers that the smell of pine was soon replaced with the fragrance of flowers.
After dinner, we assessed our food level because I was worried that I’d eaten too much. It looks like we’re doing fine, so hopefully there will be no need to go into town at Walker Pass in a few days.
I was too tired to hike on and basically demanded that we stop at one of the sites near the cache. It’s not quite level or particularly protected from the wind, but it will have to do. I whole heartedly agreed with something that Tinman said this evening — today’s 23 mikes felt like 28. I guess the heavy food and water carries will do that.
Elizabeth: sore feet
Michael: sore right foot.