Day 4: mile 56 to mile 74.4 (18.4 mile) (29.6 km)
It was a really warm night last night. Sleeping rough and on an exposed ridgeline I thought it might get cold and layered up for bed, only to find myself stripping down shortly once inside the quilt. I reckon it was 20 degrees C.
This made for a restless night. In addition to the heat, all the foreign desert noises I’m not familiar with yet kept startling me awake. Then there was the fact I choose a camp directly beneath flight path to a major city with jets shooting over head every 15 minutes.
I got off to 6am start to chase down some much needed water. I made it the Sunrise Trailhead where there is a water tanks that hikers utilise. Matt from Michigan was there and here I met Bird for the first time, a 35 year old. I mention age because there just aren’t that many middle agers out here. Everyone one is real early 20’s, fresh out of college or plus 60 and retired. But age is no discriminator out here. Everyone talks, looks out for each other and is kicking along at the same pace.
I grabbed 5 litres of water hoping it would be enough for the day and took off.
The heat was scorching today. My little thermometer peaking at 100F (35C) for most of the day.
There was a brutal descent around noon that took its toll on everyone’s feet, including mine, enlarging the blister on my left heal considerably. But you can get stuck out here and you just have to keep moving.
On the descent I met a few new crew including Matador who is a fellow Trek blogger and appears just above my name on their site.
All thought of the descent and painful feet were cast aside when at the bottom of the climb down we met Nico who had a tent set up with trail magic. I’m talking shade, camp beds, fresh water, gatorade, fresh fruit, chocolate, beer, chips and first aid supplies. Purely out of the joy of giving he had set up camp here for a few days just to help PCT hikers out through this tough section. Amazing! I am so very thankful for the fresh water instead of the filtered cattle trough water we’ve all been drinking.
So after a long lunch with Nico to wait out the heat of the day it was time to keep pushing towards Scissors Crossing, to the next cache and maybe into the town of Julian.
The sun was still so hot and unrelenting it required taking a break every 25 minutes or so. I wasn’t cooling down at all and was conscious that to push it was to invite heat stress.
By 17:30 it’s still above 30 degrees C and I’m done for the day, 2.5 mile short of Scissors Crossing. I have enough water for the night and will easily make it the 2.5 miles in the morning to assess the water cache situation. It’s a bit like choose your own adventure. Option A: water is available – push on north towards Warner Springs; Option B: no water to be seen – hitch into Julian for a Nero day. I love the randomness of it all and the unplanned nature of what lies ahead.
Most other people are keeping going, heading for Scissors Crossing, to be near water and camp under the bridge. I’m going to do my own thing. My body says enough for the day so that’s it, mile 74.4 is looking like a good spot to call home for the night.