Mile 122.7 – Nance Canyon at Mile 140.1
I could feel the hiker hunger nibbling at the edges of my stomach today. It wasn’t so much that I was hungry, but that I never felt full. I’d eat and feel sated, but 30 minutes later would begin to feel hungry again.
Let me back way up. It was cold this morning. So cold. I woke up around 4:45 and got dressed inside my sleeping bag and then just stayed there warming back up. I could hear Wang packing up. She’s so tough! I wish I had her resolve.
It was sprinkling misty rain on my tent and it took some convincing to make myself move from my warm, dry bed. This was the first morning I’ve had to pack up in the rain, so I wasn’t sure where everything went. I did a good job of keeping my dry stuff dry, so that’s good, and I learned some things about where my wet stuff should go.
I started hiking just after 6:00. All was quiet and close as I walked through clouds all morning, bundled in almost every piece of clothing I have with me. I often save my breakfast to eat as I start hiking to give myself some motivation to start the day. Up to now, I have been eating one packet of instant oatmeal dry in the mornings. This morning I followed that with a crunchy peanut butter Clif bar and probably a liter of water.
Through misty, quiet clouds I walked, giant pink boulders resting on sandy mountainside like friendly creatures. Bright flowers peeking through the mist, reminding me that, mostly, the sun shines here.
About 4 miles into my day, I reached Mikes Place. Mike is another one of those marvelous trail angels I keep telling you about. He keeps a couple of water tanks stocked with water, as well as offers a respite from the heat, which today was nonexistent. I reached the water tank, filled my dirty water bags and started to filter into my clean water bottles. So cold! So very, very cold! By the end of the second liter, I was almost in tears, wondering if I might be pushing the limits of hypothermia, thinking about how my massage clients would react to a missing digit.
Then, I heard voices. I got up and walked toward the voices and noticed some stone steps leading down to a yard. And then there was Tom, a friend of Mike’s making coffee for hikers! And then he said that it was Josh’s day to make breakfast and he was taking his time but it should be ready soon. Then I had a warm pancake in my hand and a plate of the best potato hash I’ve ever tasted smothered in ketchup and hot sauce. This is how I came to eat second breakfast this morning.
While I was eating, Josh put on Appetite for Destruction and I almost cried! It was so good to hear music out loud and share it with other ears! I never even considered how important it is to be able to share music with people, but I miss it so much.
I stayed there, in good company for as long as I could justify, but when the album ended, I knew it was time to hike on. I wish I had taken some potatoes with me because not fifteen minutes back on trail and I was hungry again. I drank some water and put on Taylor Swift 1989 and danced down the trail. Then I ate some goldfish crackers when I could no longer deny that I was, in fact, hungry again.
Warmed by generosity and hot food and music, my day started looking up. Slowly and slowly, the rain dried up. I put on Talking Heads and stopped for lunch, sitting on a rock. I danced and danced down the trail, not another person in sight all day.
When my feet couldn’t take anymore, I found myself at the water tank Josh had talked about earlier in the day. It was around 3:00, and I wondered it I might just camp here tonight. I walked the quarter mile off trail to check it out. It was beautiful. I pulled out my tent to dry in the sunshine-glorious-sunshine that had finally made an appearance. Walking around, I fount the rock Josh had told me about with the two metate- little indent in the rock where natives had sat and ground corn or grain. I tried to imagine what it might have been like to sit in that very spot, sharing in the making of food.
Back at the Warner Springs Community Center, I packed out the lightest, smallest book I could find, Louis L’Amour’s Mustang Man. While I rested down in the little canyon, I read a couple of chapters and ate an apple. The man certainly had a way with language.
I packed up around 4-ish, deciding to put myself in a position to get to Highway 74 in the earlier part of the day tomorrow, so I have options for whatever happens in the later part of the day. So, I hiked a quarter mile back to trail and carried on, while eating a Snickers bar. Three-ish miles later, I descended into Nance canyon to find a group I had met earlier in the day at Mike’s place. They were set up on the sandbar of a waterless creek bed and they had built a little fire. They welcomed me right into their cozy scene and we did the whole PCT getting to know you thing as we ate dinner around the fire. It was one of the most pleasant evenings I’ve spent on trail.
Funny, once I stopped moving and started eating dinner, my appetite dried right up. I ate most of my dinner because I know I need it, but I couldn’t finish it. And now, typing this in my tent, I’m so hungry again!
Today I met:
– Pierre and Max from the French Alps. Max just finished school for adventure travel. Pierre is very quiet so I didn’t learn as much about him.
– Kaya from Germany, only 19! and interested in film directing.
– Tom and Josh at Mike’s place. I wish I had pictures of Mike’s, but my phone died just before I got there and it was too wet and cold to try to charge it at that time. Tom lives in Kennedy Meadows, so I might get to see him again.
Today I learned:
– A lot about packing up my bag in the rain.
– I need better gloves.
– I need another pair of socks, which I already knew, but today made it very clear.
– I need a better battery pack, even if it means carrying a little more weight.
– If my phone says it has 28%, that means it’s about to die, like, right NOW.
– I love hiking alone and making my own decisions.
Today’s hike was powered by trail angels, lots of music, and contentment.