I woke up. Oh, I’m not in my tent. That’s weird. I looked at my watch: 9:00AM. Oh, I slept in. That’s weird. I walked outside to smoke. It’s overcast and cold. Oh.. that’s weird. Well at least I don’t have to worry about the heat! That means I can be lazy and leave late today. I went back into my room and collapsed on my bed. Wonderful bed with its wonderful comfort. I eventually summoned up the will to get up and walk to Del Taco to get a giant breakfast burrito and another round of chicken tacos. I wolfed it down and watched TV. I washed my clothes last night and they’re still damp, might as well enjoy the room until checkout while they dry all the way.
Eventually 10:30 rolled around and I started getting my stuff together. I stuffed everything back into my packpack and filled up my water bottles. Oh that’s heavy! My right achilles tendon ached as I walked down the stairs to the office to check out. I hope that’s just temporary. I walked away from the hotel and made my way back to the trail which took me back under the freeway. Another landmark!
It took longer than expected to get clear of the freeway, and when I got out the other side I was met by green things. Green trees, green grass, green everything. The trail wound up and away from the freeway and things turned dry again. In the distance were really cool rock formations. Initially I started to wonder if I was near Vazguez Rocks, but a quick check of my maps informed me that I wasn’t even close. Oh well.
I crossed some railroad tracks, and before I could cross the second set a train started rolling by. I sat by the tracks for a while and let it pass looking at all the graffiti on the sides of the cars and was reminded of my time working at the railroad years ago.
It passed by eventually and I made my way across. The trail dipped down and went through another tunnel. Yay tunnels! I got to the other side and the trail went uphill, then kept going uphill. I don’t know why but I’m really tired today. I got plenty of sleep last night but my body just isn’t cooperating. Maybe I ate too much? Whatever the reason, I wasn’t feeling it and I kept stopping to take breaks. I looked back at Cajon Pass: I could turn around and stay another night there and eat more food.. I could.. But I shouldn’t. I kept going.
As I made my way along the highpoint of the trail I was getting pushed around by the wind. I was almost actually knocked down a few times. It was funny on one hand, but on the other it made the walking that much more difficult which wasn’t something I really appreciated today.
Eventually I made my way away from all the rock formations and found myself along the side of a mountain where the trail dipped down into a valley. Downhill! Yay! I made my way down and was met by a dry riverbed where I decided to plop down and take a break to get myself together. Maybe I should eat something, that might help. I dug my granola bars out of my pack and nibbled on them. As I did a woman and a couple horses walked by: I wonder if that’s the same person from Big Bear? I said hello and her horses looked at me curiously. She said hello back and pushed on. I leaned back on my backpack wishing I could take a nap, it’s way too late in the day for that and I haven’t come that far from Cajon Pass.
I eventually got up and made my way along the trail. Not a minute later I found myself standing in front of a water cache. Yay water! I didn’t need any, but it was an awesome sight regardless. It just makes me happy that people come out here and stock these things to help out hikers, it’s so awesome. I signed the trail register to thank them and pushed on across a dirt road. When I got to the other side I was met with a view of what I’d be hiking on the rest of the day. Massive elevation gain, huge mountains in front of me. And behind them were the mountains that would lead me to the Angeles National Forest, high enough for pine trees to thrive. This ought to be interesting.
As I started to make my way up I felt a little better, I could feel my normal energy levels coming back to me and things became a little easier. I didn’t have to stop for breaks as often anymore. On top of that the views were so incredible which is always uplifting. After an hour of climbing I hit what I thought would be the top of this first set of mountains, but as I did I saw another higher mountain in front of me with a little band of dirt protruding from the side: the trail. Oh PCT…
It’s never as bad as you make it out to be though, I was on the other side and up at the top of the other mountain in no time. Of course I still had to go uphill, but the grade leveled out a little bit. I looked at my watch: 6:30PM. I need to find camp soon. I passed a couple of sites on the way however. The more miles I do today, the less I have to do tomorrow to get to Wrightwood. I had a feeling tomorrow would be more intense than today was so doing the extra work now would help me out in case I was still feeling off tomorrow.
Exactly at mile 15 I found my home for the night, and there were spaces for maybe four other tents! Perfect! The trail provides, it really does. I started setting up camp, which proved to be difficult in the wind. Trying to lay my Tyvek groundsheet down was a pain in the ass even with rocks, I couldn’t get it arranged perfectly. I eventually got frustrated with it and decided to get my tent set up first. As I was getting my tent put together I heard: “Hello!”
I looked around. No one. What in the world.
“…Where are you?” I asked.
Suddenly I see a head pop up over the bushes in front of me.
“Oh man, you scared me” I said, laughing.
“It’s the voice of god!” The man said. “Any space for another tent?”
“Yeah man, there’s plenty of room! Come on up, I’ll show you” I said, excited at the prospect of there being actual people around for once. It’s funny how adverse I was to the idea of this in the beginning of my hike.
“What’s your name?” the man asked.
“Rocketman” He replied. A woman was hiking with him as well. “And I’m Mrs. Rocketman, no trail name yet!”. Mrs. Rocketman was section hiking with her husband, Rocketman was thru-hiking.
We talked for a little while until my hunger got the best of me, and I went back to my campsite to eat dinner. I’ve been saving a ready-to-eat package of indian curry and decided to give it a shot tonight. It was so good. It’s too bad these things are heavy, I’d eat it more often otherwise.
I eventually got tired of getting pushed around started to get in my tent, as I did another hiker popped by and said hi. Hiker city! I took my shoes off and got into my tent, shutting the rainfly against the wind. It’ll be a miracle if I sleep tonight. I pulled my phone out to type out the final notes of the day and realized I still had service here. I talked with friends and family for a little while, it was really nice. This is the first time I’ve had service on trail, I don’t get to do this very often.
I eventually put my phone down and laid down on my sleeping pad listening to my rainfly squeak against the metal bars of my tent as the wind blew by. Yep, no sleep tonight at all. Today was another day that could sum up thru-hiking, it was hard but things worked out and turned out to be a great day in the end.