Miles: 16.93
Camping: PCT mile 400.9
Hikers seen on trail: 27

The morning was a lot warmer than I’d expected it to be, making getting up a fairly easy task. There were a lot more people camped around me than had been when I went to bed, but they were all still asleep as I slipped out of camp at 6:30. The hike immediately kept up its recent trend of going up in elevation, followed by a descent and a road crossing after which the real climbing began.

Up and up went the trail, huff and puff went me. Almost a month into this and I still get winded on the uphill stretches. Fortunately, it wasn’t as long of a climb as yesterday, though just as steep. The top offered some lovely views, which I enjoyed with a nice Japanese couple and good ol’ Cool Hand.

The next stretch went steeply back down to the highway where we would walk on the road for 2.7 miles to not disrupt the mating of the endangered yellow legged frog. This was my least favorite walk yet. The grade wasn’t bad, but the highway was winding and the pavement was hard on my feet. I hadn’t had any aches until the road walk, when my feet and shoulders were both competing for most painful body part. My shoulders only hurt when I don’t use my trekking poles, which are useless on pavement.

Fortunately, 2.7 miles on the road didn’t take long, and I was soon walking through a campground towards the trail. I set up on a picnic table and made lunch while some ominous clouds began to close in. I had heard there was a 50% chance of thunderstorms, but I was still hoping we were on the side of which that didn’t happen.

After lunch I hit the trail and heard the first rumble. The sky was darkening and I knew it was a matter of time. Right when I found a large rock with an overhanging ledge, the skies opened up and the rains came down. I sat cozily in my little cave watching a few hikers scurry by below, all decked out in rain gear and unaware of my perch. This was my favorite part of the day, and I dozed off for a quick siesta while listening to the rain.

The rain kept going, so I did too. I donned my poncho and marched forward, trying to figure out my strategy for the night. I didn’t want to get caught in the storm, and I wanted to get a bit farther along, so I set my sight on a boy scout cabin at mile 401. I climbed and climbed some more, ready to rest my aching feet in a sheltered space for the night.

As the trail crossed yet another road it finally committed to a downward grade. This is when the sky really started to darken, and thunder and lightning began to rear their heads. I quickly passed mile 400 and made it to the cabin. I set myself up on the porch, staking claim to a dry spot knowing a large group was behind me. They would all sleep inside, but I had no interest in joining the crowd. I wouldn’t sleep among that many people, and I like to get my day started early.

A bunch of people have come by, some stopping to stay inside, some moving on into the storm. I feel good about another day of taking it easy, and according to the elevation profile, there shouldn’t be too many more big climbs between here and Agua Dulce. I am cozy in my bag at 6 pm with Blisster already sawing logs on the other end of the porch. I will read a bit, drink some ginger tea and get to sleep early. Tomorrow I’ll make a bit of a push to get farther up the line. Go feet!

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