July 14, 2017
Total daily miles: 24.9 miles
Total PCT miles: 1273.9
Start: mile 1655.9
End: Alex Hole Spring (mile 1680.8)
Total elevation gain/loss: 7281.5/3193.9 ft
This morning started out with the big climb that we began yesterday. While yesterday’s segment had fairly decent tree-cover, this morning’s portion definitely lived up to its reputation for being exposed. It’s yet another burn zone. Luckily, we managed to stay in the shade for much of the morning because we remained within the mountain’s shadow.
We ran into Valley Girl, A-Game, Scoops, and Joe Dirt at our first water source of the morning. It looks like we’re back in the pattern of running into everyone at each water source! Not a complaint since this is a good group.
The trail led us along the ridge line for a good part of the morning. This provides for large, expansive views… that aren’t particularly varied compared to the granite mountains that we had been walking through. Lots of green, tree-covered mountains.
We stopped for lunch near an off-trail piped spring. When I got to the camping area, I found a plastic gallon jug, so I was able to collect extra water when I walked to the spring to share with Michael and A-Game. The camp spot was nice and shaded and made for a great spot to lie down for a bit before tackling our next climb of the day.
The climb after lunch was hot and exposed. It made me grateful that we’d avoided tackling this morning’s climb in the heat of the day. I was relieved to find a cavernous opening in a bunch of trees near a spring. It probably would have been a cool camping spot, but for us it provided a welcome break from the sun while we filtered our water.
At this point, it was 4:30 and we had another 7 miles to go until our next water. After such a hot day, I wanted to be able to drink up this evening without carrying the extra water required to dry camp. We decided to push on to the next water.
I don’t know if it was the heat, the crackers I’d eaten, or that I was really hungry, but my stomach hurt for the next few miles. Additionally, it became increasingly clear throughout the day that these new shoes are not working. I tried changing the insoles back to the factory insoles today with the hope that the thinner insoles would solve my problem (I’d switched to my superfeet insoles yesterday). However, this did not present a magical cure and my feet felt cramped all day. There wasn’t much choice but to push on though.
The scenery changed from the earlier big climbs hugging the mountains to a series of flower-filled meadows. Finally, we made it to the turnoff for the spring at about 7. I was exhausted and physically spent.
A service road that wound down to the spring provided a welcomed alternative to the steep, eroding use trail that went directly down the mountain. I was surprised to find that the area around the spring had a lovely view of the surrounding hills lit by the sunset. We even managed to eat dinner outside our tent to take full advantage of the views!
Elizabeth: feet hurt much more than usual.
Michael: left big toe and other foot pain.