Week 4: Challenges, Summits, and Milestones

Despite thinking I would have to take it easy, I found myself being able to push myself through. I was excited to be able to do my first PCT challenge to challenge myself in a different way. Changing things up takes time to find what works for me again while on trail. But those challenges make the most memorable and worthwhile moments.

Day 22

I woke up early today to beat the heat, and boy it was hot! I crossed two rivers today and it felt good to soak my feet both times. Like a troll, I had lunch under a really short bridge all by myself. My recent trail friend caught up to me, so we hiked to the lake and hung out until the sun and heat dropped. Miles flew by fast since I felt really good after my break. 

I saw another snake today and again it mocked me. I’m pretty sure they like to mock me by not moving. They just stick their tongue out at me. I was so tired at the end of my second wind that a girl who caught up wanted to camp together. We both decided to cowboy camp for the first time together. I found out later she had hitched to the lake from the hot springs so she could have McDonald’s for her birthday tomorrow.

After settling down for the night, I realized I did my first 20-mile day on the PCT—wooohooo! Even though I was supposed to take it easy today, I was starting to feel pain in my feet and ankles.

Day 23

Cowboy wasn’t too bad. The mosquitoes attack your face at night. The girl who I camped with last night was smart and got into her tent body as protection. She gave cowboy camping a rating of two stars. 

We hiked out to get to McDonald’s before the heat really kicked in. I was already sweating bullets by 8 a.m.! We hung out until it cooled down. I didn’t feel good but I felt much better after a Dr Pepper and salad. We got this fresh mixed fruit of coconut, cantaloupe, watermelon, mango, pineapple, and cucumber with chili and lime—sooo good. Out of all the hikers I saw today in McDonald’s, I am the only one who is doing the resupply challenge. However, a few had packed out some burgers. 

The same friend from this morning made a plan with me to stick together for the next couple days. This would get us into Wrightwood to shower and do laundry since we haven’t had a town for a while. 

I stretched, rolled my feet and legs out, and I feel much better after it was starting to become painful coming into camp. I was pleasantly surprised and happy with my dinner of a hamburger and salad from McDonald’s. No forcing myself to eat it.

Day 24

I woke up early to try to beat the heat because we have a serious climb today. My socks gave me a pep talk while I was putting them on, saying “p.s. you’re victorious” on the inside. I passed mile 350, but didn’t see any symbolism and others had not either. It was weird, but maybe it’s not a huge milestone. 

I stopped for lunch and a couple of guys who I met at McDonald’s sat and ate with me. We all walked to camp together telling stories and jokes, so it was a good day. Someone had his birthday today so the other packed out a cake and candles to have a hiker trash birthday party. It was fun even if he’s just hanging out for a while. 

I can’t wait to get into town for a shower. We all said how long it’s been without a shower and I’m the one who went the longest so far on this stretch. Dirt tan is for real even on my hands. I’m starting to really enjoy meeting new people, making great memories together, and creating friendships.

Day 25

I didn’t want to wake up and get moving today. When I almost reached town, two new day hikers stopped me and asked me about the trail and basics.

I was walking down the street and there was trail magic. One house had an ice chest full of beer, chocolate bars, and iced water. I took a chocolate bar and iced water even though I wanted a beer; it was 9 a.m. so too early for me. Another house had a chest full of apples that I opted to pass up. 

Once we got into town we were able to stay with trail angels Maile and Lynn. Maile had doctored up our feet, and that was really nice. I got a B average rating for my foot care, which means I just need to pay attention more. 

I went to the grocery store to mix up my resupply because what I have been eating has not been working for me. Not enough protein in my diet, not eating enough, and I just feel tired and slow.

One of the girls and I had a movie night watching two movies: Morning Glory and Wedding Date. It’s been nice taking a much needed nero and another nero tomorrow.

Day 26

Since we all forgot to put the laundry in the dryer, I went and got breakfast from the well-known breakfast place in town. While waiting I see this sign that is perfect for me in this moment in the journey. 

“Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you decide to see beyond the imperfections.” 

This is so true despite the hard challenges, and my ever-changing plans have been frustrating. I’m still having a good time and it just keeps getting better. 

My time spent with the trail angels have been great. I love hearing stories about them and the other hikers they have hosted. Before heading out for the trail, we got a group hug and photo. My pack was heavy with the new food, so today was a pain in the butt, especially at the start of the climb to Baden.

Day 27

This morning I got up early to summit Baden-Powell before it got hot and the snow melts too much, becoming problematic slush. A guy who caught up to me was nice enough to stick around for the morning with me. He helped to find the trail since it was haywire with snow piles. We both had a snack and took photos up top. 

I started to get really agitated with all the gnats or mosquitoes. Whatever they were, they would not get out of my face and leave me alone from lunch through the rest of the day. They drove me crazy trying to get them away. I needed to focus on not losing my footing and watch out for steep sides on a climb then downhill. 

I realized I can’t control my emotions as well out here. It’s because you’re so exhausted and there’s not many people around to help regulate. I wasn’t hungry for dinner, so I settled for a protein bar and Breakfast Essentials. Dinner needed to happen somehow. Camping completely alone tonight for the first time, I was next to the road. It was kind of weird but still away from sight.

Day 28

I slept so good last night that I was knocked out. Probably all the elevation gain and loss from climbs up Baden-Powell and Williamson caused my exhaustion. Camping alone was no problem last night; not even scared. I woke up early to hit the road at a good time, so I’m visible but not when it’s busy. 

I didn’t see any PCT hikers until lunch time. After lunch I hit the 400-mile marker. Last five miles into camp I saw a baby rattler and it didn’t make me scared like the others. The rattle was softer, but I wasn’t close so I don’t know why he rattled. 

First big-mile day after hitting the 20-mile day earlier this week. I’m a bit sore probably due to the asphalt road walk being tough on joints, but hopefully I’ll sleep good. I’m hoping to get big miles the next couple days.

Tips and Reminders

  • Happiness is found even in the hardest days and in the littlest forms. 
  • Leftover McDonald’s is not bad and also surprisingly satisfying.
  • Friendships bond so fast with others when you just have fun and open up.
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