It’s less freaky than I expect it to be, sleeping in my shelter without the rain fly – even when a person walks by after an undisclosed amount of time, my anxiety about the whole thing just seems unfounded. This is the most normal thing, even when I wake in the middle of the night and see the stars instead of a roof.
I’m impressed at how much heat just the mesh holds in when I open the door in the morning to the chill. So it’s quickly taking care of business and up and out as soon so I can be.
I’m planning on a couple of stops today for water, so I don’t have to carry a ton; water is 2.2 pounds a liter, so the less I have to carry, the better. I’ll evaluate at the Lost Valley Spring in 5 miles at 119.6, and then it’s the water tank at Mike’s Place at 127.3 – all in all, I’m planning on about 15+ miles, trying to get to the campsite at 131.4. Shouldn’t be that rough.
It’s all up out of the valley with the creek this morning, though, which makes for pretty, if warm, going.
My left foot – meaniebutt that it is – starts out a’clicking, and I get nervous for a while that it’s going to throw a hissyfit like it did on the Colorado Trail. But it settles into the rhythm soon enough.
The scenery today is comparatively mellow, but not at all boring.
I retreat into the jukebox in my head, stopping only long enough at Lost Valley Spring to drop pack and go down for one more liter. I only carried a liter and a half here, and I drank about half a liter, but the warmer it gets, themore water I drink1. I’m still trying to dial in water – I always carry too much – so we’ll see how this works.
We’re aiming for Chihuahua Road after that – that’s where the water tank and Mike’s Place is. I only heard about Mike’s two days ago at Warner Springs, so I have little and less idea of what to expect. I see the road about two miles out, and an RV, and another truck that could be trail magic, but the PCT is leading me away – how am I supposed to get there?
Soon enough, there’s a sign and a side trail over the hill go our right – I’m a little suspicious, because it’s earlier than I expected, but there they are: the water tank and Mike’s Place.
It’s afternoon time, so I plan to midday nap here, but the talk of dystopian dramas and general hiker news – there are a ton of folks here – keeps me up, and I let lunch marinade in the sunlight before stuffing it in my face. I join Spirit Guide and Ryan in some stretching before I wander off to a hammock to sleep.
Or try to.
The conversations on both sides of the house are interesting, and eventually one turns nerdy and I get out of bed to go nerd out about comic books and screen adaptations. Then it’s ripping the bandaid off again, even though pizza is supposedly coming – I’ll get stuck, and I’m not satisfied with 13 miles.
So it’s up the hill, and then down down down again.
I hear what sounds like a load of hummingbirds up ahead, and get super excited – I love hummingbirds! – but as I get closer to the sound, I am surrounded by flying insects.
BEES. I AM SURROUNDED BY BEES. THOUSANDS OF BEES.
The buzzing sound chases me around the next bend.
I’m enjoying the evening so much that when I get to the site at 131, I decide not to stop, heading for 134.8. Shortly after, though, I see the sun going down faster than I’d reckoned, and it’s racing the sun to bed.
For some reason, the thought of walking in the dark terrifies me, and so I pull 4mph – granted, downhill – to get there, and am so, so thankful that there are also two Czech ladies already there. I’m too tired to pitch my tent, so it’s cowboy camping2 for the first time for me. Ayesha and another lady roll in a bit later, and two more after dark. The moon is so bright and the stars positively twinkly as I settle in to sleep.
Start: 114.9 • End: 134.8 • Day: 19.9
Notable Accomplishments: Okay but seriously, with the side trip to Mike’s Place, that’s 20+ • Now know can maintain 4 mph pace, assuming downhill and terror of coming darkness • Trying this whole cowboy camping thing
 Generally, the accepted wisdom is a liter every five miles. Some people need more, some people need less – particularly depending on time of day. You have to learn your own body.
 There is no shelter. There is only Zuul. And tyvek. And a sleeping pad. And a sleeping bag.