Day 10 – Well Then..

Last night was not fun.  I got into my tent and fell asleep pretty quickly until I woke up to the sound of voices from the trail.

“BRO!  Gate 3 Gate 3!  3rd Gate!  Ah bro we’re here bro!”

Bro was uttered a few more times and I heard feet stomping behind my tent.  I was trying to ignore them until my tent started to light up.  The jackasses were pointing their headlamps directly at my tent.

“Looks like someone set up right here!” They said in reference to my tent site.  Observant.

The headlamps continued to shine directly at my tent.

“It’s like tent city here!” The other shouted back.  There were only 2 tents.

It’s totally cool to come in and set up camp at night.  I expect this to happen, it’s a thru-hike and we all hike at varying hours.  But yelling?  And for fucks sake do not point your head lamp at other people’s tents.  I started to get out of my tent to ask them to chill, but the zipper got caught on the rain fly and I engaged in my ever-effective “fuck it” mode and laid back down. The dudebros quieted down once they found a spot to set up, but now the wind started kicking it into high-gear.  Alright then.

My tent took a beating that night, but it survived.  My sleeping pad on the other hand had seen better days.  It had a hole in it and was deflating every hour or so.  Needless to say I didn’t sleep, and I had a bit of a problem on my hands.

I got up early and started packing up.  I wasn’t particularly worried about waking people up this time due to last nights exciting entrance.  But in reality it was still a fair hour, though I’m amazed at how late people sleep in out here.  By the time I had gotten out of my tent we’d all been wrapped up in our bags for around 10 hours either sleeping or trying desperately to sleep.  I don’t know why I’m always the first out of camp, I’ve only met a couple other people who like to get an early start.

I hit the trail with a mouthful of broken pop tart dust, the breakfast of champions.  The morning is cold and windy and there’s clouds scattered around in the sky.  I hung my sunglasses on my chest strap, I wasn’t going to need them today.  When I was done with my pulverized pop tarts I took my pack off to put the wrapper in my garbage ziplock, then kept walking.

A couple hours later the sun started to poke out here and there, so I reached for my sunglasses.  They weren’t there.  Well shit, they must have fallen off when I got rid of my trash.  I guess someone on-trail is getting a new pair of sunglasses.  As far as things you can lose on the trail goes, this wasn’t the worst thing in the world however.  I shrugged and kept walking.

The trail pushed up and around the remainder of the mountain that the 3rd gate water cache sat under, and went along a ridge.  As I wrapped around it I saw another set of mountains in the distance.  Among them I could see the trail.  From where I stood, it looked like the day’s worth of walking.  I hate it when this happens, the miles drag on for what seems like an eternity, but at least this time I had a good view.

I wasn’t going to push it today.  I’d do 15 miles maximum, I do not want another injury, and I do not want to get pulled off trail again.  Though resisting the urge to just hike straight to Warner Springs was very hard.  Not that I planned on staying there, but 15 mile days leave me with a lot of spare time I don’t know how to fill.  But my foot took priority.

I sat down and took a break.  After a few minutes I decided I might as well make it my lunch break, and extend that break to be around 2 hours long.  It was only 11:00AM and I’d already done 10 miles, I had a lot of time to kill.  I pulled my food back out and made my lunch wrap, then threw my feet onto my pack.  After a while Mathew passed me and I wished him a good hike.  I probably wouldn’t see him again.  Someone else passed me later and then I was alone.  I could only stand to sit here for an hour, I love hiking too much.

I stood up and felt a knife jab into both my knees, or at least that’s what it felt like.  I struggled to take my first steps on trail, and continued to struggle.  Well, looks like I’m cutting my day even shorter now.  There’s a spring and campsite very close to here, I’ll just pitch my tent there.  I limped along trail and almost stepped on a line of stones, I pulled my foot back to look: “100”.

Oh, I’ve walked 100 miles.  As I passed the second 100 mile marker, “I Survived” by Nine Inch Nails started playing through my headphone.  I laughed and pressed on.  Irony!  Or coincidence!  Who cares, it was funny.

The trail dipped down into a cool canopy of trees and I soon found the spring.  I filled up my bottles and plopped down on a patch of dirt with a log laying at a perfect level to rest my head on.  After a while I realized the dudebros of last night were here and were of course being obnoxious, so I picked up my pack and went into the trees and found an awesome spot.  I could still hear them, but at least I had a better view.

I laid in the dirt for an hour watching the clouds race along the sky, watching the tall grass blow in the wind.  Then I did it again for another hour.  And another hour.  Finally I got up and set up my tent and crawled in.  The temperature was dipping so I put on my warm clothes and hid under my quilt.  I suddenly felt very calm and comfortable, and fell asleep.  When I woke back up the entire area was filled with tents, pinning me back in the trees.  I sighed a bit, feeling a little weary of this.  I’m not part of any of these groups, but I’m still part of their noise.  I was still a little irritable from last night and not getting much sleep, and reminded myself that I was on a shared campground and that it’s okay for other people to be hiking the PCT, naturally.  They’re not all obnoxious of course.  It didn’t help that I was going through nicotine withdrawls.  The move trying to get out here to hike was stressful so I picked the habit back up unfortunately, but forgot to resupply on them in Julian.

I refilled my water and plopped down in front of my stovet o make dinner.  Chicken flavored broccoli and noodles.  The taste reminded me of broccoli and cheese soup and I started to have a serious craving for it along with some really crusty bread to dip into it with.  I finished my food then threw myself back into my tent, frustrated that most of my day was spent lounging around.

I started to think of what it would be like if I had gone SOBO (southbound on the PCT), or what it would have been like on a different trail.  I love the PCT so much but I’m getting the impression at this point that it’s going to be a 5 month long party.  Again, I reminded myself not to be so critical of people I don’t even know and that it’s okay for them to be out here.  I really wasn’t in a good mood at all.  I knew it’d be like this and came out expecting it, I just need to chill and get good sleep tonight hoping that tomorrow would be better.

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