Miles: 21
Camping: Silverwood Lake PCT mile 328.5
Hikers seen on trail: 12

I have to start by saying that I had the worst night of sleep on the trail yet. People were partying at the hot springs all night, and there was a bit of a flood situation in my tent. In my tired state, I forgot to turn off the bite valve on my water bladder, which slowly released 1.5 L of water all over the inside of my tent. It was a warm night, so when I woke with wet legs I wondered at first if it was sweat. I soon realized it was far more liquid than my legs could ever sweat, and it was all over my down sleeping bag, my sleeping pad and backpack. I knew from experience that the quickest way to dry something out here is with body heat. I also knew not to compress wet down, or it would be rendered useless. My solution was to unzip the bag completely and use it as a blanket. The water hadn’t gotten through the bag, and I didn’t have a rain fly on, so there was ventilation to help dry it out. By morning it was mostly dry, so I put it on top of my gear in my pack outside of the stuff sack to avoid compression.

When my alarm started beeping at 3:15, I had finally gotten to sleep, so I gave up on a super early rising time and slept until 4:30. At that point I could still hear people partying, so trying to sleep any longer seemed futile.

I started hiking just as the sky was starting to gain its morning pinkish glow. It was easy leaving, and I was happy to walk away from the ongoing madness. I picked the right time to leave in relation to the position of the sun, so it was cool walking out of the canyon. The trail was winding ahead, an endless ribbon hugging the hillsides.

The mountains unfolding before me seemed endless, reminding me of matrushka dolls stacked upon each other. The river below was beginning to sparkle in the rising sun, and I was happy to be on the shady side of the canyon. It is a notoriously hot hike, but getting an early start is definitely a bonus.

There was rumor of trail magic 17 miles ahead…root beer floats and hot dogs. The sound of that was the most magical thing I could imagine, so I pushed on pretty hard with Peanut, Dozen and Little Debbie. We were all salivating over the rumors, and working hard to get to the well deserved break. As hard as I was pushing, I needed to stop and rest as my feet weren’t understanding of my mission. This is when Little Debbie came up with the news. We had missed the trail magic 10 miles back. Apparently we were given the wrong mile point and blew right by it before it was set up (literally by 20 minutes).

The walk was pleasant and full of pollinators…so many bees, butterflies and humming birds doing their thing. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been rushing towards a sugary mirage. I think I’ve learned a valuable trail lesson on believing the hype. Duh.

Disappointed, we rolled up into some shade on a bridge with Dayglo and Cool Hand. We were soon joined by a group of ’11 AT hikers, some of whom had partaken in root beer floats. To make up for my sadness over the event, I whipped up a Mountain House beef stew and ate a shameful amount of peanut M&M’s.

We all lazed around in the shade of a single tree on top of a bridge. Below us was some murky water being enjoyed by a solitary duck, while we all stayed on the mere brink of hydration (it was over 90° today). I quickly get to a point where I can’t stay still any longer and have to hike, heat or not. Ambling up the hot trail I stumbled upon a cooler in the shade. Trail Magic! Hard boiled eggs, strawberries, grapes and cold bottles of water. This was a perfect motivator to get me up the next hill that would bring me to Silverwood Lake. Thank you Team Turtle!

The lake was beautiful and surrounded by tall mountains. It was Saturday, so families were celebrating the weekend on beaches and boats. It was a perfect summer holiday scene and with the heat I started craving a margarita. That wasn’t going to happen though, so I hiked into the cool breeze of the lake. Soon enough, I pulled off trail to get into the water. I took off my shoes but noticed a bunch of trash and gross looking algae, so I just got my feet wet and washed my legs.

The rest of the walk was hot and seemed long. I got to the camping area feeling the miles in my feet, 47 miles in 2 days is a lot, and my body isn’t quite ready. I have 2 new blisters, both on my pinky toes and just want to sleep. I cooked up some dinner with Giant, while we chatted about snakes and poison oak. It’s his birthday tomorrow, and he is most excited for milkshakes (even though he got to partake in root beer floats earlier). I met a lot of great people today, and the more nice people I meet, the more I like having them around.

Tonight I will sleep under the stars up off the ground and away from snakes. My pad is rolled out on a picnic table, and it seems like a good spot on a warm night. Tomorrow, we hike to the famous trailside McDonalds. I plan to get there by breakfast for an egg mcmuffin. I think it’s been a decade, and I’m already not proud, but slightly excited…