Day 6: 100 miles / Warner Springs

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Mile 94.4 to mile 109.5 Warner Springs (15.1 mile, 24 km, 7 hours)

Last night was windy but warm again. I’ve been cowboy camping the last few nights, basically throwing down a ground sheet and sleeping on it out in the open. It was a great sunset perched up high on a little spur line running off the trail. My spot was shared by several others.

I hit the trail early again, away by 6am with one thing on my mind – reached the 100 mile marker.

The trail was easy and made for a fast pace. For the first morning my legs were not stiff and the main muscles are getting accustomed to walking for 10-12 hours a day with a pack on.

Reaching the 100 mile in a couple of hours I stopped for a short break. Continuing around a corner there was another 100 mile marker, then another and another. I’m not entirely sure where the right marker was but hey on passing the forth I knew I had crossed the line somewhere.

From here it was a long descent down. One of the frustrating about this trail is that it follows a really easy and contoured grade, so it seems to take twice the time and distance to get anywhere. Much longer than what I’m use to at home. At home and in New Zealand we use a lot of ridge lines. Walking the PCT I’m seeing the trail close by on the other side of a gully with a couple of good ridge lines that could connect but the PCT stays true to the contour adding maybe a mile or 2 to get the same spot – something I’ll have to get used to. It’s great for steady climbs uphill but damn frustrating on the descents.

At the bottom of the hill Barrel Springs was reached with the first piece of big shade under some old oaks.

From here I struggled a bit. As I’ve said my shoes are too small with my big toes hitting the front of the toe box which is forcing me to change my stride, which has then caused blisters on both heals now. Painful stuff and all I could really do was continue to shuffle towards Warner Springs. I had a tip off that a mobile outfitter was parked at Warner Springs for a couple of weeks and there was an opportunity waiting to purchase new shoes. And a resupply.

It was a shame my mind was so focused on foot pain as for the first time the scenery started to change, moving into open grassy savanna and the into shady oak forest along a river, but i didn’t really appreciate the changing and new sights.

In the middle of one grassland was a rocky outcrop, Eagle Rock, so named after the fact that the formation looks like an Eagle with wings spread. I reckon more of a dragon than an Eagle. What do you reckon?

Anyway I made it to Warner Springs by 1:00pm, my shortest day to date at 15 miles but well worth it to recharge.

Warner’s Springs is a tiny settlement and the community have adapted their community hall to host hikers during the summer season. Another awesome effort by volunteers. Here I was able to wash my salt encrusted, smelly clothes, have a bucket shower, charge electronics and resupply.

And the outfitter was there. Once scrubbed up to remove the grim I grabbed myself a new pair of shoes and on first fitting they felt great. A size up and a much wider foot box so toes can spread naturally,  the zero drop promotes a more natural gait. Size 11’s! Wow. Never thought I’d be wearing 11’s.

Across the road the local school is having a fund-raising event selling hamburgers, fat chips and salad for dinner. An opportunity too good to pass up.

Tomorrow I’m rethinking my strategy and may have to go the route of many others by ditching day hiking and shifting to very early morning starts and night hiking to avoid the heat.

Another long one, sorry about that.

There is only one way to drain a blister – thread it with a needle and leave the thread in overnight.

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