Day 11: mile 190.5 to mile 214.1 (23.6 miles, 38km)
Today started with a 5am rise, my first cooked breakfast (oats) and a departure from camp at 6am.
Last nights wind had died down but it was still cool enough to begin today wearing wind pants and wind jacket to provide that extra layer to stave off the bite of the early morning air.
The first half of the day was all descending – 15 miles following a ridge line down. Of course taking a direct line would have made more sense in my mind but the PCT being the PCT decided to stay true to the contour, snaking it’s way down, more than tripling the distance.
Early on with fresh legs the descent was fine but after several hours it was starting to get painful. Never mind, there was only one direction to go and all I could was plod along slowly.
Along the way I passed the 200 mile marker. Woohoo!! Go me. Finally feels like I’m getting somewhere.
Everyone’s next concern was a bee hive at mile 202. This was specially mentioned on the PCT water report, which really is meant to provide updated information on water sources to hikers but does include some additional info, like bees. There were instructions on what to wear and how to walk past without stirring them up. Some previous hikers have had major run ins with the bees but not for me and the other hikers around me. The bees were definitely there, you could hear them before seeing them but didn’t cause any bother at all. I strolled right on by.
Finally after 6.5 hours the bottom of the descent approached and it was time for lunch. I joined a bunch of hikers I camped with last night in a rock overhang, one of the few shaded and sheltered spots for some lunch.
As I move up the trail I’m progressively moving through groups who started the trail a couple of days ahead of me. This is good as it means I’ve moving at a steady pace but also means I’m dropping some of the familiar faces and friendships if people I started with. It’s a long trail I’m sure I’ll see them again.
After lunch it was the first piece of road walking that had to done. Generally not a fan of road walking it was good to have a couple of mile of different tread underfoot.
Back on flat ground and working towards the Interstate 10 the ripping wind just wouldn’t relent. A head wind for the next 4 miles I basically had the head down to keep my hat on and fight to keep my footing. It was a struggle.
On reaching I10 the trail goes under the highway and my struggles were rewards with yet more trail magic. Bottled water, sodas and beers on ice awaiting hikers. The bloke that maintains the cache was there and we had a right old chat about everything. Amazing. Seeing as we are in the desert and I had a ways to go for the day yet, atypically I left the beer alone heading for a cold sprite instead. Of all the soda choices I really have a thing for lemonade at the moment.
After leaving the trail magic it was a matter of pushing as far I could today. I really wanted to get out to mile 218 where the Whitewater Preserve is but I just couldn’t make it. By 5pm my feet were done and I managed to get a couple of miles above the Mesa Wind Farm.
It’s still really gusty but I’m tucked up in bed with the wind turbines for company. Their constant whirling sounds like pounding surf.
I just remembered it was Mother’s Day back home and with a little signal managed to get a text out. It’s still Saturday in the US.