Miles: 24.81
Camping: In a manzanita grove in the Anderson’s backyard. PCT mile 478.21
Hikers seen on trail: 12

It all began at 3am when Ninja woke me from my slumber. I groggily packed up my stuff, yawning, but happy to move on. It’s funny how eager I am to get to town, but how much more eager I am to get back on the trail. I guess once chores are done, there is nothing left to do but walk until chores need to be done again. Today we were only walking to the Anderson’s, 25 miles from the Saufley’s. A journey the majority of hikers traditionally make in one day.

The first 3 miles were on the road and we didn’t need our headlamps. It’s a lot harder on my feet and back to walk on pavement, but with no choice I put in the miles without complaint.

We got to the trail before sunrise and the guys, per usual, put me in the lead position. I’m typically the fastest, though not always. Today I wearily took on the role and we began the steady uphill climb until the sun officially rose. By that time I was feeling the effects of skipping breakfast, and weakness began to take over. I felt tears rising up and told them to go ahead, fighting off the urge to cry. Fortunately, they were also ready for breakfast, so we all raised our blood sugar on the hillside, watching the sky change color with the break of day.

After the climb, we hiked through shady woods and hillsides covered in flowers. The gnats were pretty ruthless, so I didn’t stop for many pictures. At one point I was singing and inhaled one of the pesky things, which was a pretty unpleasant experience. Even more so as I gagged it up. The flower show was beautiful though, which added a smile to my face.

This was all before the second climb, and it was already 90 degrees by 10:30am. We all set our own pace on this section, but I felt my body temperature cooking up pretty hot. I had to sit and cool off so I sent the guys ahead of me and sat in a small patch of shade. After 5 minutes, I felt a lot better and moved on slowly. This was a better strategy than maintaining a quick pace in the heat, and we soon met up at the magical water cache provided by the Andersons themselves. It was only 6.9 miles to their house, but it was lunchtime and there was shade, chairs, water, and cold sodas (beer too). We enjoyed this oasis for about 2 hours before we motivated ourselves on down the trail.

The rest of the hike was pretty easy, but we had found that the temperature was 105…and about 120+ on the ground. This in turn blessed me with 3 brand new blisters on my feet, and one on the palm of my hand from my trekking pole. We were both feeling a bit dejected hoping that all that rest at the Saufley’s would have made our feet stronger. We are ready for the blisterless days to come, though apparently we have more dues to pay. All part of the experience, I keep telling myself.

We arrived at the Anderson’s around 5:30 to a chorus of people wearing Hawaiian shirts and clapping for us. They were all lounging on couches and drinking beer in the front yard, and we were told to go claim spots out back to set up our tents. We wandered into a shady manzanita forest along a winding trail lined with multiple tent sites. I found a great spot next to Indie, and set up my tent for the first time in days. It’s nice to have my own 4 walls set up, and I was feeling the heat of the day, exhausted.

I knew dinner was in preparation, so I found my way back to the party and hung out with my comrades until the dinner bell rang. Build your own nachos were lined up, and somehow it was enough to serve all of the people…some of us even got seconds! It was delicious, and sent me off to my tent in the manzanita forest feeling satisfied. I’m ready to quit the day and air out my blistered toes…goodnight.