Miles: 16.3
Camping: PCT mile 63.6
Hikers seen on trail: 8
We woke up about 5:15 after a much better night sleep. The wind was still blowing, but we were more sheltered and didn’t take as much beating as we had higher in elevation. Natasha, Melody, Phoenix, Jake, Al and I all headed out at 6:45. Things move much slower with such a big group, but I enjoy their company. The wind was extra fierce this morning, knocking us around so that we had to use our trekking poles to maintain course. It made our packs seem like they weighed 100 lbs when the wind blew into us, so we moved a bit slow. Several times I thought we would be blown right off the mountain. Jake somehow motored past us, and we didn’t see him again all day.
We got to Pioneer Mail trailhead where there was a water cache, but we were all well stocked and moved forward into the ever present wind. Just a bit farther we came across a memorial for the LA County Messengers Club, a motorcycle group of firemen. It was on a very windy ledge (weren’t they all these days?) Overlooking the desert, or Mars if you want to use your imagination. It was solemn, but beautiful.
As we approached the trail marker for mile 55, we decided to take a break and put our feet up. It was nicely sheltered from the wind, and we were ready for a rest. We talked about what could be happening in current events, not sure if we would even know if something major happened. We are in our own world, and I am so very happy that this is my life now. I love living on the trail, it’s quite spacious and beautiful. I am short on worry out here (even with nagging blister pain).
We had 4.5 miles to the next water source, so we packed up and headed onward. Soon after that Andrew and Duckets caught up with us and we were 7. We contemplated our options for where to stay in town, if we would save money by splitting a room or if we should camp. I knew one thing for certain, and that is free pie at Mom’s cafe. Free and pie, two of a hikers favorite words.
As we approached the highway where we would find water, a state trooper was sitting in his cruiser and waved us over. A hiker had been injured and used the call box on the highway looking for help. We hadn’t seen anyone, but Natasha had blisters the size of golf balls (no exaggeration) and she wanted to get to town instead of hiking on. Melody and Phoenix quickly decided they liked that option, and soon I was the only gal left in our now group of 4.
The remaining of us sought shelter behind a concrete outhouse, and I fired up my stove to cook up some Mountain House eggs and ham which I added tomatoes and spinach to. That is when we were joined by So Way, a 2012 AT hiker from Florida.
“You are gloriously dirty! True hiker trash! I love it!” He remarked to me (I should note that hiker trash is a term of affection for us thru hikers. Don’t ask me how.)
I have a habit of applying sunscreen with dirty hands on a sandblasted face…thus making my face as perpetually dirty as the wind’s howl. This, in turn gave Al the idea to christen me with the trail name, “Dust Bunny.” And so it is. I am now known as Dust Bunny.
We sat a while talking with So Way, who was a lot of fun to talk to…but eventually we had to walk down to a horse trough to collect water. As we did this, a car pulled up and a woman got out handing us 2 gallons of fresh water. Duckets and I had already filtered from the faucet over the trough, so we left some water for any hikers who might come behind us.
Our now group of 4 (So Way was hanging back to wait on friends) had planned to hike 4 more miles to Chariot Canyon to post camp for the night. Duckets and I walked faster than Al and Andrew, so we went ahead chatting about our lives off trail. It is fun to meet new people out here and learn where they came from.
We came across two older fellas, Cry Baby and Wrong Way who didn’t have a water report, or much of an idea of where they were going. I gave them directions to the next water source as Al and Andrew caught up with us for a quick break.
The rest of the hike was mostly downhill and quite steep, but led us to a peaceful clearing with room enough for all of us. The best part? The wind had stopped! It was crazy quiet, and you could hear all of the bugs and birds rejoicing in their new found flight. I’m sure they had a much tougher time of the wind than we did, and were just as relieved to move unencumbered.
We were soon joined by Cry Baby and Wrong Way who cowboy camped (slept without a tent) off to the side. Al and Andrew decided to forego a tent as well, while Duckets and I set ours up. We listened to a little James Taylor and are finally able to sleep peacefully, without the constant harassment of the wind.