Camping: Eagle Rock PCT mile 106.25
Hikers: 8 + 1 dog
Woke a little late this morning (6:30), which makes sense with the late hike. Felt a bit foggy, but otherwise slept great my first night cowboy camping. Every time I woke up I looked to the sky and marvelled at the stars. Lama was already awake, and we promptly got to stuffing our gear away to get to the next water source (2.7 miles) where we planned to eat breakfast. I proposed ‘The Jolly Lama’ as Al’s trail name and he liked it…so there you have it. We left camp knowing we are going to hit mile 100 today which is an exciting prospect. I’ve never hiked that long at once before, and it’s hard to get my head around that first milestone.
The morning hikes are always nice, and we were quickly passed up by Trooper, M-80 and their dog, Willow. She seemed to love hiking as much as I do, and it made me long for a pup of my own.
I got to the third gate water cache ahead of Jolly Lama, which was fully stocked with many gallons of water and had two plastic chairs set up in the shade. I set about cooking breakfast while JL caught up with me. I’m carrying too much food and there is more coming to me tomorrow in Warner Springs, so I made enough for both of us. I made quinoa with lentils, carrots, jalapenos, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, celery, green beans and beef jerky. Tortuga rolled in and I offered him some food, but he had eaten and wanted to push miles today, so he filled up his water and shot off. JL and I dined in the shade in the plastic chairs provided before making tracks of our own.
I decided that I needed some alone time and told JL I would see him at mile 100. It changes things to hike with someone else, and I like being alone with my thoughts, which is partly why I’m here. I don’t like feeling like my agenda is affected by someone else, or them mine.
It was a lovely and quiet day, hot, but not too hot. I found a cave at mile 96.3 and sat in its shade for a while eating a trail bar and relaxing. A little bee looking thing with a scary looking proboscis started to take an interest in me though, so I went on my way, eager to hit mile 100.
I’d been thinking a lot today about doing the things you truly want to do, and how rare it is for people to do these things. I can’t think of too many times in my life where I could stop and ask myself if there is anything I’d rather be doing, and have the answer be no. That is how I feel out here. No matter how hot, there is no air conditioning that could lure me away. I’m happy with all of it; the simplicity of living in the moment is perfect, no matter what challenges it comes with.
At one point, I was coming around a bend in the trail and something scurried off in front of me. It looked like a small mouse, but when I got closer I learned it was a horned lizard. We stared at each other for a bit as he turned his curious head from side to side, and he even let me snap a picture. It’s fun to finally see some cool lizards out here…usually they run off too quick for me to see them.
I hit the 100 mile mark by myself, and snapped a quick picture, but was eager to get to the next water source. I was down to half of a hot liter, and I was thirsty from the hot day. It was an easy mile and a half to the water where several hikers were resting in the shade. I joined them and waited to see if Jolly Lama came along, which he did in short time. We were catching up on the day when who should show up? Duckets! He’d hiked 24.5 miles in the hot sun today and caught up to us with no problem. It felt good to be reunited with the guys, but I wanted to make another 5 miles before dark, and Duckets was going to set up camp by the water. I waited a bit longer to see if Jake made the miles, and just as I was about to move on he showed up. We all caught up briefly, but we were losing daylight and I wanted to be closer to Warner Springs for morning.
I made the right decision, as it was the most beautiful 5 miles I’ve walked yet. The landscape was changing to meadows and rolling hills, and the sun was sinking, casting an amber glow all around. Everything was cast under it’s golden glow, including myself. I saw a hare enjoying the view, and shortly after, a deer. It was a magical time, straight out of a Maxfield Parish painting. Seeing that it would have been my Grandma’s birthday, I enjoyed it with her in mind. A beautiful ending to a beautiful day.
I’m now at eagle rock with my tent set up, but no rain fly. There are several other hikers here, and I lost The Jolly Lama somewhere in the last 5 miles. He may have decided to camp elsewhere, or he will roll in shortly. I kind of crushed the last 2 miles so I didn’t have to break out my headlamp, and I must have left him in my dust inadvertently. Sorry JL!
Goodnight again from the PCT!