Date Tags hiking / pct

(Note that posts will be sporadic. Cell coverage isnt the greatest in these parts.)

In contrast to yesterday, a pleasant ramble along a ridgeline.

  • Date: Wednesday April 15, 2015
  • Miles hiked: 18.38 PCT
  • Miles covered: 578.08 to 596.46
  • Weather Report: Low 30, High 66. Light breeze most of the day, and temperatures around 55 to 65 during the majority of the day.
  • Wildlife seen: Raccoon footprints along the PCT for a mile, else nothing
  • Mood of the day: Relaxed. Good weather for a long walk. Enjoy the day.

I was in no hurry to get out of the sleeping bag and get going in freezing temperatures. The low temperatures that I list above are what temperature it is inside the tent, it was colder and still a bit of a light wind outside, but the big winds died down sometime overnight.

I had positioned my tent so the sun warmed it up inside at daybreak, and I just idled an hour away, or maybe 15 minutes; I just can't measure time's passage well on the trail. Today was a two-fer for breakfast, hot chocolate and coffee, though I decided to save water and not make oatmeal and munched another Clif bar instead.

It was a pretty morning as I got going on the trail, which went over a rounded ridge and departed the dirt bike/OHV road that I rather disliked. I suddenly got a ping on my cell phone--what, did I not put it in airplane mode--and said hello to Chris.

The morning passed quickly, and I noticed my right shin didn't hurt at all. Nor did I feel bruised from yestrday's fall. OK, that's some drama averted. All in all, my feet and legs and body have gotten pretty used to the routine. I haven't needed to tape my feet or do anything the last few days.

I reached Golden Oak Spring around 11am, and poked around. This is the only source of water on the PCT for 35+ miles, and yep, it's out of commission. The lower collection trough (which looks like a bathtub) had an inch, if that, of water with green slimy algae on the surface. There were cattle hoof prints everywhere, making a muddy mess, and the low wooden fence around the trough had been pulled apart. I spied a large diameter pipe/cistern uphill and checked it out, ducking under some barbed wire. The lid wasn't locked down (though there were locks on the lid handle), so I peered inside. Two and a half feet down was maybe a food of water, with orange slime growing. Definitely unappealing. Looking around, the PVC piping feeing the cistern was broken and just laying on top of the grass. I thought that a bit odd--how did cattle get inside the barbed wire--maybe some other critters or vandals did that piece of work. Anyways, with no flow into either the tub or the cistern, Golden Oak Spring is out of commission now--so all the PCT thru-hikers in 2015 will be hauling 6 or 7 liters of water to get through the 36 mile waterless stretch. I'm guessing this will be my longest water carry, and the weather right now in April with temps around 60 is a lot more pleasant than the weather in May or June when the temps can easily get into the 80s and 90s.

Surpringsly to me though, this is a fairly forested section. I thought it was going to be all walking through creosote high desert, but today started out with a walk through pinyon/sagebrush, through a drier section of Coulter pines, then through oak woodlands along north facing slopes. There was a burnt area for a few miles, and the dreaded poodle dog bush made its skunky nasty appearance briefly, then the ttrail resumed its course through the oaks. As the day went on, some blue oaks appeared, then the trail headed into a Jeffrey/Pondorosa/black oak forest with scattered granite outcroppings, looking very much like what you'd see on the floor of Yosemite Valley. Just before camp, the ground was covered with miner's lettuce, and I had a tasty raw salad on-the-go, munching on the sweet green leaves.

Late in the day I ran into a southbound hiker named Grok, he was picking up this section that he didn't get to last year in his thru-hike. We chatted for a bit, he told me Joko is just ahead. He's heading south to highway 58, the Andersons, and kickoff.

At 6:30 I decided to call it a day; I had made it to Hamp Williams Pass (and saw that it was on BLM land and not private land on my GPS), and figured it'd be a good place to stop. It wasn't windy at all, and there's a decent log to sit on and provide a bit of blocking from any cattle roaming about. I staked down the tent Just In Case the wind picked up, made couscous, wrote this blog entry, and tried to figure out how many days it is to Walker Pass. There's not much elevation change, it's 57 miles north on the trail. That's 19 miles a day, which is just about what I do, though I'll pick up the pace tomorrow and the next day so I get to the highway that runs through Walker Pass earlier in the day. I plan to find a ride to Lake Isabella, grab a motel room, resupply, then hitch back to the trail early on Sunday morning for the three day walk to Kennedy Meadows.

Kennedy Meadows is on my mind quite a bit--it's the start of the most challenging and scenic section of the PCT, the Sierras, and I'm going very early in the season. I want to be prepared so I'm sending warm clothing and snow gear to KM, not knowing quite what I need, and I"ll probably end up carrying more than I ideally should. I'm fine with that, if the temperatures take a turn down to 10 degrees I want to make sure I'm prepared for that. I'll probably be there for a few days as well, waiting to find someone or a group to head out with.

For now, though, bed, and an earlier start to make those few more miles. It'd be swell to spend Saturday afternoon doing nothing in Lake Isabella.


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