PCT Day 8-10 Julian to Eagle Rock

Day 8

mile 77.3-86.67

This morning, we got breakfast at Regulars Wanted in Julian and it was so good!  They bake their own bread and the sausage was really amazing on my sandwich.  I also got a pineapple Hybiscohs kombucha from the tap.  That was delicious.

In order to get back to the trail, we hitched out of Julian from in front of the post office.  A really nice older guy in a manual FJ cruiser picked us up and took us the 20 minutes to trail.

Today we left Julian around 12:30pm.  The climb out was really beautiful in a desert sort of way –  but it felt very different than anything we have done so far.  We left the road and over four miles or so wound our way up through switch backs and alongside the mountains that overlooked the valley.

It was really dry today and the sun was relentless.  Allie enjoyed her new sun umbrella and I used mine all day as well.  Even so, I drank way more water than usual.  I carried more than most but I really needed it!    Thankfully we only have 4 miles to water tomorrow from our camp.

All in all it was a good day but we were still tired and the 9 miles to camp was tough due to the heat and the sun.  In retrospect, a zero mile day would have been nice.  We are going to increase how many zeros we do going forward.  Our campsite was large, flat and sandy – the perfect trifecta.The ducks, us, and a hiker named Alex from Canada who is a strength and conditioning coach all had dinner together.  Allie had mashed sweet potatoes and I had mashed regular potatoes.

Day 9

mile 86.7-101.1

We packed up and got hiking by 6:15am today!  Robin had suggested that Allie help me in the morning and that greatly increased our speed of getting out of camp!

Most of the hiking today was similar desert ridge hiking to the first 5 days.  It was hot today and we made full use of the sun umbrellas.  As we were approaching the famous 3rd gate water cache (a place where kind locals leave jugs of water where there is none for a long section), Allie let the rest of the group know that we had decided to go 14 miles instead of 11 in order to resupply at Ranchita today.  She was very excited to hit 100 miles!

We thought Ranchita/ Montazuma valley market had a beer garden, but it turns out, it was just a small store in a trailer that sold beer.  The garden was just a picnic table in the yard.  They did pick us up though which was nice.

We had deviated from our original plan negotiated in Julian slightly in order to hit 100 miles today.  This was the plan where Allie and I  said that we needed to do lower miles as we were acclimating.  At the time, the group did not want to leave us and agreed to follow our plan.  After all, Allie had just gotten zero drop shoes for the first time and our feet needed time to heal and toughen up.   Today however, the rest of the group seemed to be rethinking their decision.

As Allie and I arrived at the market and had 20 minutes to buy all our food and maybe chug a beer, a new plan was sprung upon us.  There really wasn’t any option but to agree if we wanted to stay with the group and I didn’t have the time to even think about the new mileage numbers, check the weather again, check elevation, campsites and water sources.  There is a lot to check when planing a new section.

I am starting to realize that I have changed a lot since I hiked the AT with this group.  Before I was 23 and a bit lost in life.  I was happy to go along with the group and was pretty un-opinionated during our hike.  This time however, I deeply know who I am, what I stand for and what type of hiking is best for Allie and I.  We are taking our time in the beginning of the trip to acclimate and set ourselves up for success in a few months.  We are able to do that in this group sort of but it is very demoralizing when you always arrive in camp 2-4 hours after the rest of the group because they have a much faster pace.  It may be best to part ways and hike our own hike.

The thing that bothers me the most is that the group is causing Allie and I to feel slow and diminishes the sense of victory we should be experiencing.  Allie and I made it 100 miles on the PCT in 9 days.  That’s awesome and amazing!!  But in this group, it doesn’t feel that way.

Day 10

Location: The Desert

Start:  mile 101.1

End:  mile 116.0

Miles hiked: 14.9

It was a hot day today.  The main highlight was seeing Eagle Rock!  This is a natural rock formation that looks just like an Eagle.  In that area, we hiked through a lot of fields and some of them had cows in them courtesy of the Warner Springs Ranch.

We took a little break and talked to family for a while at the Warner Springs crossing.  After hiking on a bit more, we had lunch and took a few hour siesta at the Auga Caliente creek with Ellie, John and Alyssa and the ducks.  It was nice sandy spot with some big trees next to flowing water.

At camp, Allie and I arrived last but the ducks had saved us the last spot – a bit slopped and right next to the trail but better than nothing.  We had dinner all together with Josh and Alyssa and Ellie and the ducks.  Allie gave them the tail name Rolls and Royce since they had joked about their backpacks being heavy and luxurious!  For dinner Allie and I had a ramen and a half (chicken flavored) and I tried the lemon poppy seed Larry and Lenny cookie but it wasn’t that good.

At dinner, Allie noticed that I had a rash above my ankle.  Rolls is an ICU nurse and had some calimine lotion she was using to treat her poison oak and mine looked similar.  She let me borrow the lotion which was very kind!

Allie and I have been trying to not let the dynamic with the ducks ruin the fun.  I am also pretty sure I don’t want to be in a group with them anymore and I’m not sure how to say that.  I guess I will wait until after Idlywild since they are counting on the accommodations I booked for the group.

We are feeling pretty good now at camp but this afternoon was very tough for Allie when her feet started aching really bad.  We took a rest and she took some advil and everything was okay.  She is breaking in her Altra Olympus she just got in Julian a few days ago.

Tomorrow is a lot of climbing and there won’t be much water.

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