Miles: 24.95
Camping: PCT mile 681
Hikers seen on trail: 5

We knew the day would be packing heat before we got up. It was warm at 4 am when the alarm went off, and we faced a decent sized climb to start the day. The goal was to get to the next water at Joshua Tree Spring, take a break, and get as far as we could before 11. The sunrise was beautiful, per usual, but I felt like I’d literally just watched it set. This desert schedule is yet another thing I won’t miss, as I’d like to enjoy my hiking as opposed to rushing through in order to beat the heat. It’s an experience I’m glad I’ve had, but the point has been made. I’m over it, and it’s killing my feet.

There is a new pain presenting itself today. It’s the soles of my feet, and I’m sure I’m not getting enough support from the new shoes. I will need to fix this somehow from Kennedy Meadows,  but first I have to get to Kennedy Meadows. My pace has been slower today, but a lot of that has to do with the heat. It was 100 degrees by 10 am.

At Joshua Tree Spring, it was a half mile walk from the trail to water. I decided to forego my coffee until our midday break so I could wait to fill up water in just 7 more miles. McButter needed some though, so Grandpa and I ate snacks while he made the journey to the spring. Within 15 minutes, he returned with empty bottles. I immediately felt better about my decision not to walk down. Apparently, the water was coming out in mere drips and there was a line of people waiting to fill up. Looks like 2 of us were cutting it close, and at the time it was only 9…hot, but not oppressive yet.

It got hot quick as I finished what was left of my water supply. We agreed that 7 miles wasn’t enough to kill us, but coming back from dehydration is harder than staying hydrated. I’m sick of predicting my water consumption, though I’m usually pretty spot on. Sometimes I cut it close because the weight adds to the need to drink it, a vicious cycle with a precarious balance.

Just in time, we made it to the next water at the bottom of our next big climb. It was already 100 degrees and we had hoped to do a couple more miles to cut down on our afternoon miles. I could barely move through the heat, my feet aching with every step. Filling up and filtering water was a chore, but a necessary one. We chose a spot to wait out the heat far sooner than planned, but we didn’t know what to expect from the trail ahead, and there was a great spot with shade just 2/10 of a mile after the water. We all laid out ground cloths and proceeded to siesta. We took multiple siestas and shade shifted a bit, ate copious amounts of food, small talked and tried to time it so we would get to our planned camp/morning water by nightfall while still not hiking in the brutal 100+ temperatures.

We got off around 4, hiking uphill, but with a bit of shade from time to time to cool off. The guys quickly got ahead of me, as heat is murder on my feet and I was SLOW. I didn’t mind being alone, they say misery loves company, but I didn’t want to bring anyone else down. Sometimes it’s better to handle it solo, and it made me feel more relaxed to just travel at my own pace. I took a break on a nice rock to dump rocks and sand from my shoes, but quickly learned that the pain was in the skin of my feet, not rocks and sand. Not good. It’s beyond frustrating to constantly deal with foot pain, and something has got to change if I want to finish this trail.

We passed the 1/4 point at some point today, which is amazing! I can’t fathom having completed that much of this trail, let alone what it will mean to finish. The terrain is starting to change, and we are seeing the beautiful Sierra Nevada range grow closer every day. The mountains are calling us from the desert, and we diligently obey. Aside from the pain, I really am enjoying this hike. I’d love to enjoy it with less pain, but I’m happy to be here just the same.

I hobbled into camp just after dark, and the guys had already set themselves up. I was feeling down on myself, so I quickly laid out my bed on the ground and curled up. My plan is to get going before them and finish the big morning climb by 8 am, while also filling up on water just before the climb.

The mosquitoes are starting to become a thing tonight, and I know they are going to get real bad as we move into the Sierras. I am donning my headnet, earplugs and some lavender oil while being the only one brave enough to cowboy camp tonight. Really, my feet just hurt too much and I don’t want to do the extra work (even if it only takes a minute). I like cowboy camping, so here I am. Goodnight.