Today was one of those intentional do-nothing days, which is to say I did a lot but didn't do any hiking at all. I filled in the next eight days of walking, and met up with my parents late in the day for some shopping and a tasty dinner.
Last night I was a bit of a bad boy after getting to the hotel. I saw this pamphlet thing in front of the hotel TV and picked it up--on its cover was an imp or a little girl, I couldn't tell which at first, on the prow of a ship, facing a dragon looming out of the sea, and realized OMG IT'S A SUNDAY ISN'T IT? I MUST CATCH UP WITH MY STORIES. I saw that it was airing at 11:30pm, just enough time for an adaquate club sandwich across the street at Denny's (note to Denny's corporate folks: the 50s diner thing is so rockabilly 1980s, and both concepts are decades stale.) On the way back I grabbed a six pack of ale and settled in to watch the Lannisters and the Diana Riggs family and the Targherian do their plotting and conniving. Sadly, there was no Arya, she's the character I empathize with the most: out there exploring, figuring out her limits and brashly confident (sometimes too much so), and slowly realizing that self-reliance and interdependence are not mutually exclusive.
I slept in, and wondered how long I could linger in bed before dashing to the hotel breakfast; I stuck an arm out from under the covers and called the front desk staff, they said it ended at 9. Damn, it's 8:40! I put on some shorts and one clean T-shirt and "camp shoes" (my shoes without inserts, nice and comfy), and loaded a plate of eggs and four pancakes and a cinnamon roll. The room was empty except for a screen on the wall tuned to some newsy channel and a couple, a man and a woman, both on the same side of the table facing the screen. I found a table far away from the screen, behind a pillar so I didn't have to be sucked into banality.
That couple had other plans; they were entranced and they didn't even look away from the screen as they sipped their coffee. It was fascinating to watch them, so enraptured by the light,so I peered around the corner to see what was so engrossing.
Up on the screen some nubile news reader in a too tight top was passionately blathering on about some courtroom drama. Staring unblinkingly into the camera, she breathlessly mouthed words, professionally selling the story and herself. It was tawdry and exploitive, and a great performance.
The man saw me looking over as he got up to get more coffee, and addressed me "So what do you think of the Arias sentencing? Think he got what he deserved?". Uh, I'm supposed to have an opinion about this? Is it mandatory that all Americans have an opinion about every newsy item?
I thought for a few seconds, then simply said, "That news is of no concern to me."
The woman looked over and said to me "Well people like that...". No--this is not a way to strike up a cordial conversation. I interrupted them with a curt and "Good morning", grabbed my coffee and another cinnamon roll, and left. I haven't watched or read any news in four weeks, and I'm feeling better for it. I have heard tidbits--some plane crash in Europe, some law somewhere in a backwards part of the world (Indiana?), a drought emergency declaration in California. The only News I Can Use from all of that is the last, because I have to remember to ask for water in restaurants. Things that are important to me are water sources, food resupply stops, how my old body is doing, and the weather--most all of which I can control, and all of which I can plan and prepare for.
Back in the room, I gathered laundry and took it upstairs to the guest laundry to start, then got on with planning the time to Kennedy Meadows. KM is a big landmark on the PCT, it's where the Sierras really start (yes, they start just north of Tehachapi technically), and where the game plan changes. I need to plan the next week to eight days to get to KM, where I'm sending some warmer clothes and my ice ax and snow gear and actual boots and bear canister. Some of that will go home, some won't.
To get to KM, I need to walk 144 miles north through the feared and waterless Section F, so I pulled up the PCT Water Report PCT Water Report for the miles from the T'pi - Willow Springs Road to KM. I noted which water sources were reliable, which were doubtful, and then figured where I'd get water. It looked like this:
- Mile 558 - Start. Five days to Lake Isabella.
- 2 liters, 8 miles to Mile 566 - Highway 58, water from parents
- 7 liters, 36 miles to Mile 602 - Robin Bird Spring
- 4 liters, 19 miles to Mile 621 - Willow Spring (alternate). Bonus water at mile 609, Landers Camp, .25 miles off trail.
- 6 liters, 30 miles to Mile 651 - Walker Pass Camp
- Mile 652 - Walker Pass, thumb it down to Lake Isabella for the night, head back in the morning. Three more days to Kennedy Meadows.
- 4 liters, 17 miles to Mile 669, 1st Spanish Needle Creek Crossing
- 6 liters, 30 miles to Mile 699, South Fork Kern River. Bonus seasonal stream at Chimney Creek, mile 680.
- 1 liter, 3 miles to Mile 702, Kennedy Meadows Store
It's going to be a heavy week. 7 liters of water is 7 kg, 15.4 pounds. That first bit is 5 days of food, so that's about 9 pounds. Add it all up and it comes to roughly 24 pounds of food and water, plus the 18 pounds of pack base weight and I'll be carrying 42 pounds. Not really much I can do about that; I'll just consider it good practice for the extra gear I'll need past Kennedy Meadows into the heart of the High Sierra.
With that settled, I finished up some laundry and repacked and discovered little food packets everywhere; I need to be more disciplined about putting those empty Crystal Light packets and Clif bar wrappers away in one place, rather than in three out of four pants pockets, plus the food bag, plus the outside mesh pocket, plus the bottom of my sleeping bag (how did that happen??)
Late in the afternoon, my parents arrived, and we went over to get stuffs at Big Five and Albertsons, and I once again did the Clif Bar hunt. Why can't supermarkets figure out where they belong? Sometimes they're next to candy, sometimes they're with the nutritional supplements in the health food section, sometimes they're next to breakfast cereal bars, sometimes they're next to the sports drinks, sometimes they're with the nuts. This time they were up front at the cashiers, on top of those short soft drink coolers, just above my eye level. At least they had some interesting flavors, though the Oatmeal Raisin Clif Bar seems more like punishment than a treat.
I asked the parentals if they could do a bit of support work in the morning, and help out. I didn't want to carry 8 liters of water north where I got off the PCT at the Willow Springs Road, mile 558, and asked if they could drop me off there early in the morning. I could slackpack it to Highway 58, meet them there mid-morning, load up my pack with all that water, then head north. They said "Sure!", thanks Mom and Dad.
We drove out to the Highway 58 crossing just so we all knew where to meet up in the morning, and see if there's water cached there (there was, about 10 gallons, we'll add a few more from our Albertson's run), and see if there's a place to pull over--most definitely. With the logistics for tomorrow all sorted out, we headed back into town for a tasty Italian meal, and then called it a night.