Miles: 17.12
Camping: PCT mile 855.68

I woke up in the middle of the night to headlamps entering the hut. I had been in a deep enough sleep that the light mostly disoriented me and the voices that accompanied it weren’t real. I pretty much rolled over and assumed Pockets was up doing something, but I didn’t investigate. When first light hit the window, I thought about getting up for sunrise, but I had slept poorly on the stone bench, and I had been strangely woken up in the night. I went back to sleep satisfied with the sunset last night, and woke up an hour later realizing there were two new bodies on the floor. I didn’t recognize them and assumed they were JMTers (those hiking the John Muir Trail…we are currently in a section where it and the PCT overlap, so we see more of them than PCT hikers. I even ran into a guy I dated last summer who is hiking the JMT this year…small world!). It turned out they were PCTers that knew Pockets but I hadn’t met them before. They said that they came in last night with Anish! She only stayed for a 30 minute nap and then left. I was so disappointed to have missed her, but felt slightly elevated that we shared sleeping space, if only briefly.

So, Anish, for those who don’t know is (excuse my language) a true badass. My facts may be slightly skewed here, but I have no way to verify every detail at the moment. Here is what I know: last year she set the record for an unsupported hike of the PCT in around 60 days. Take a minute with that: she hiked 2,660 miles in 60 days.

An unsupported hike means not taking help from people unless offered. It has to be a natural hike, where supported speed hikes have someone designated to follow along with a car and help along the way. Anish did about 50 miles per day, and broke the unsupported speed record last year. Legend has it that when she got to Washington (WARNING: this next part is gross!), she was sitting by the trail when someone asked if she needed anything. She asked for moleskin…this was because her tailbone had broken through her skin where her pack rubbed, and she used moleskin to cover it up in order to finish the hike. Pure badass.

This year she is attempting the speed record for the JMT, unsupported. This means minimal sleep, hence the 30 minute siesta in the hut where I was sleeping. She started on Whitney 2 days ago (I was there a week ago!) and is doing 2-3 passes a day. I continue to be in awe of that kind of dedication.

For me, I was happy to stroll along on my 17.12 mile hike today. It was like all the others-magical. We hiked, swam in the river, ate a lot, talked about eating, forded a river, and ran into old pal Blisster. He is the first PCT hiker we have seen on trail since Rae Lakes. We have a couple more days until we hit town again…it will be a full week by the time we revisit civilization. It’s been a wonderful place to really get lost in nature, and I almost don’t want to go to town. I feel like a spell will be broken as soon as we are back in civilization, but I’ll be ready when we get there I’m sure (food, showers, laundry, beer and more food!) but until then, I will fall asleep amongst the pines, listening to the sound of the rushing river. Life is good.

Here is a TED talk by Anish about her speed record: