The one with the hunger and the heat

“I was out of water and almost close to tears. At least a bit of drama makes you feel alive”

It took me almost exactly 3 weeks for the hiker hunger to hit. And when it did it came with full force.

A trail angel called Nitzy saved us from the desert heat after leaving the San Jacinto mountain range. She picked us up in her RV together with her dog and drove us to her house where we could shower and rest. It was so well needed. Nitzy sometimes hosts up to 50 hikers at the same time in her one-bedroom apartment, cooking breakfast, dinner and driving us all around town. An incredible woman.

Nitzys RV

I’ve always had a very big appetite but I think I’ve never eaten so much in one day. My stomach felt like a black hole that couldn’t be satisfied. It was such a weird feeling. We went to In-N-out and some of the guys ordered 3 double burgers with fries. And ate it all. Very impressive to watch. I’m only a bit worried about all the food I have to carry in a few weeks if my hiker hunger keeps increasing.

Full American experience

After spending the night sleeping in Nitzys backyard together with 20 other hikers we went back to the trailhead. The day was hot and we waited out the heat playing cards under a bridge. We opted to night-hike and set out at 6pm. The sunset over the yellow wildflowers truly was something else. But I felt very tired. I didn’t know if it was the heat or if I was starting to get sick. I had a sour throat and my head felt heavy. I’ve realised one of my biggest weaknesses is that I don’t do well in hot temperatures. Hopefully it will get better. We hiked with our headlamps for a few hours and then cowboycamped on a dry waterbed and fell asleep under the stars.

The river bed
Cards, beers and shade

The next day was even hotter. We did our first river crossing and decided to spend the entire day resting at Whitewater Preserve. It was an oasis in the desert. It was green and cool and most importantly it had shade. Loads of it. We blew up our sleeping pads under the trees and fell asleep almost immediately. Hiking until late night and waking up before the sun rises makes you tired. Very tired. Who could have known.

Whitewater Preserve

We did another night-hike and kept on crossing a dozen of rivers during the ascend up the mountain. We reached camp, ate ramen and fell fast asleep. I feel like I’ve finally started to sleep somewhat good on the ground. I don’t know if it’s because of pure exhaustion or if I’m starting to get used to it. Hopefully the latter one.

River crossings in the dark

After another horrible, early start we hiked for a few hours before taking a siesta close to one of the last water sources. I had to stop a few miles in, right on the trail and shove cold oatmeal into my mouth because it felt like if I took another step I would just die from starvation. One of the many results of hiker hunger I guess.

Fireball and sunset

After sleeping in the shade at noon we climbed the last stretch of the mountain. We drank fireball to the rosy sunset and filled up four litres of water. That day we walked from sand to snow. Where we had started the day with temperatures close to a hundred we ended with it being almost close to freezing degrees. We joked about our bodies never being in a comfortable state. Either we were sweating or shivering. Never somewhere in between. The night was cold. Maybe the coldest so far on trail. We tried to sleep as close as possible to create some kind of heat but it barely made a difference. When we awoke our faces were so swollen. Maybe because of the elevation, dehydration or the cold. Or all of them together.

Coldest night yet

We wore our microspikes the following day. Traversed the snowfields on the slopes of the mountain. When I climbed over a big fallen pine tree the branch I was holding onto broke and I fell headlong backwards. Luckily Guardian saved me by grabbing me by the hip belt. But I still scraped and bruised both of my legs pretty badly.

I got lost

My Garmin is broken and my FarOut app doesn’t work. And I got lost. Instead of walking down a dirt road I went up. When I finally realised it, it was too late. I tried to shortcut back to the trail but ended up bushwhacking across three hills and it took me almost 2 hours before finding it again. I was out of water and almost close to tears. At least a bit of drama makes you feel alive. And I really need to fix my Garmin.

The day before the storm

We were planning on camping close to the trailhead leading to the city Big Bear but a storm rolled in. When we reached our intended campsite it was already dark and the wind was howling. One of the guys was close to hypothermia and we decided to keep pushing and try to catch a ride to town. We stood in the middle of the dark road and luckily the first car stopped. Vortex was shivering and we all tried to heat him up in the car by rubbing his ice cold hands. I don’t really know what we would have done if we weren’t close to civilisation. It was definitely a lesson for all of us.

The PCT doesn’t care if you’re cold

In the car we called Gadget and he came to our rescue when we arrived. He gave us food and took us all in to sleep on his floor of his hotel room. I showered until my skin was burning from the warm water and slept uninterrupted for 10 hours. We were so grateful to have escaped the cold and the wind and for our hero of the day – Gadget.

Gadget – a superhero in disguise

We decided to take at least 2 zero days in Big Bear. Both to rest up but also to wait out the snowstorm that was rolling in the next day. I’m so happy to be in town.

In need of a bed after 12 nights on a sleeping pad

◦ Night’s cowboy camping: 15

◦ Clif bars devoured: 48

◦ Blisters: 3

◦ Beers: 22

◦ Rattlesnakes: 9

◦ Zero days: 3

Miles 200-266 (322-428 km)

3 things I’m grateful for:

Shade.

My trail family for just about everything.

Powdered mash potatoes with salami.

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