Mile 1839.2 to mile 1872.1
My alarm went off at the usual 5am. I snoozed for 10 minutes and reluctantly reached back over my head, finding the valve to my thermarest and releasing the air. That way I have to get up or I’m lying on the cold, hard ground. It was not quite dark but difficult to see without the aid of a head lamp.
It was the first time in a lot of weeks to wake to a cool morning. It was great and maybe it’s a break in the hot weather.
My rustling of gear as I started to pack up obviously roused Lauren from her slumber and I heard her moving about. Neither of our tents have the flys on, just the inners, PCT style, and it’s easy to see in with any light. Luckily it was darkish I guess as the next thing I hear from Lauren’s tent is quite clearly the sound of a women taking a leak.
Ok. There is nothing wrong with that, everyone has to go. Guys pee next to each other at the urinals and it’s not uncommon out in the field with female work colleagues just to turn your back while they do their thing.
“Are you doing what I think your doing?” I ask.
“Ah, yep. It’s too cold to get out.”
My curiosity got the better of me.
“Um. Ok. How are you doing that?” I asked.
“A gallon ziplock bag. A girls best friend!” she replied.
“Cool. Sorry to wake you.” I said.
I was packed and on the move by 5:45am with enough light to see the trail.
This side of the mountains seemed quite a bit drier. Lodge Pole pines had replaced the typical Ponderosa. They’re more stick like and stunted with thinner crowns letting more light penetrate the forest floor, which being drier was sparse of vegetation. Most of the ground cover if you call it that was basically fallen dead trees and branches.
Walking along, I watched a new dawn begin with the sun a red orb, obscured by smoke haze.
The trail was covered in tree blow downs. Walk over them, walk around them and sometimes you have to walk under.
Moving back into Ponderosa on some damper ground the mozzies came out to play. They always seem to go straight for the ears. Any reason for this? I’m thinking because the blood is closer to the surface. If it’s not the ears they are poking tiny holes into the back of my legs. Slapping them away I got my kill count up the 40 before loosing count.
Further on I caught a National Parks crew heading towards where I just came from, saws and hand tools in tow.
“You see any blow downs?” the crew chief asks.
“Hell yeah. About a mile and a half back, you have a five mile section. You’ll be busy all day. Thanks heaps for the work you’re doing.”
Hitting a dirt road I came across a stocked water cache. This is incredible. Who goes out of their way to stock and maintain a water cache for complete strangers. The most selfless type. Hats off to them and a huge thanks. There must be over 100 gallons. I have enough water and leave it for others in need.
The major climb of the day leads me into a mountain of pumice rock. It’s light and airy under the feet.
I don’t come across any other hikers until midday at the Thielsen Creek where are bunch are parked up for lunch. I top up on the glacially fed, cold water and move on to find some shade.
The afternoon was pleasant with a bit of breeze and easy walking.
Two milestones passed along the way. The first, crossing over the highest point on the PCT in Oregon. The second, passing kilometre 3,008, the distance I walked along Te Araroa, only its taken me around 35 days faster on the PCT! Says a lot about the standard of trail here. It is a super highway compared to NZ. The PCT is longer but much easier in my opinion.
I didn’t come across anyone for the rest of the day after lunch until reaching my camp spot for the day high on a saddle. Oh sorry I lie. A south bounder, the first I’ve come a across, passed by. They usually start in early July so that gives me a good indication that I could have this trail completed in around a months time.