I wake late, I’m happy to laze a bit today – I’m still not at 100%. I’ve been texting with Dr?No on and off for a few days now – he’s offered to slackpack Sasha and I on the 20-mile official endangered species detour – but I’m really not feeling this do 20 to skip 4, what with my stomach all a-flutter, and he’s come all the way from LA. We’re meeting him at 8:30. I’m worried about what he’ll say.
I worry all the way down to the road crossing, where he’s early when we’re on time, and I feel worse than I did before. He’s not worried about the sudden change of plans, though – he and his friend Liqiao are gonna go dayhiking nearby, try to hang out in the Buckhorn Campground to do some trail magic. He gives us a bit of that trail magic up front, then we’re off and on our way.
Sasha and I climb climb climb, all the way to the spur trail to Mount Williamson, then it’s second breakfast before the descent into Eagle’s Roost. It’s odd to be coming down to the height of the eagles, but also kind of cool. We see two of the Trail Gorillas trying to get a tree off the trail; they tell us the Poodle Dog Bush section ahead should be mostly clear. We take it under advisement as we come in for our landing.
A group of hikers is in the back of a truck pulling off as we arrive at the picnic area – one looks particularly remorseful as he sees us and disappears into the distance. It’s cool – we were planning on doing the roadwalk anyway. Only 2.7 miles, and there’s only one hairpin turn. What could go wrong?
It’s actually a really nice roadwalk – plenty of shoulder in most places, only really motorcycles out, and dat grading tho1. A woman passes us on the road in a blind curve as a car passes; we call her Deathwish, but stand in awe of her no fucks given attitude bravery.
Then, Buckhorn Campground! It’s so crowded, kids running playing poking singing adults cooking chatting playing guitar. The whole thing’s a bit overwhelming, so we get water as quick as we can and wind our way back to the Burkhart Trail, our route back to the PCT.
In the trailhead parking lot, we spot Dr?No’s car; and look who’s coming up the trail! We’re ready for food anyway, and he cooks up delicious brats and veggie burgers with avocado, hands us sodas, chats with us about the trail. He’s glad we didn’t slackpack the long walk, given what it would’ve taken to come and fetch our stuff – apparently the trail from the PCT to here is alllll ups. A few other hikers come by, and he gets to magic them, too. Today’s mission accomplished for everyone!
Soon enough, it’s time for us to frolic off, so it’s hugs and thanks and hopes to see folks later. Then down, past dayhikers incredulous at the scope of our journey, and back to our PCT home.
My stomach starts to rebel the more we climb; I slow and slow until have to stop, praying the hole I dig will be dug in time. At least the soil is nice here. I still feel ill after, but at least the storm has passed.
I take more breaks than Blackout, who’s joined us out of boredom, and Sasha, drag behind on the ups until Blackout gets tired of waiting and leaves us behind. My bowel has started twitching, putting me in so much pain that I feel like I’m hoarding all the property on Struggle Street. I wanted to make it to mile 400 tonight, but I have to stop.
The first spot I find – an awkward one between two road crossings and near the edge of a pretty steep down – I decide to stay at. Sasha waffles, but ends up staying with me, which I am utterly thankful for. Being miserable, it’s nice to have company, though I’m thankful said company is not also miserable. We chat and eat and listen to the motorcycles blazing down the highway until they peter out in the darkness and we can finally sleep.
Start: 383.9 • End: 398.4 • Day: 14.5
Notable Accomplishments: Trail Magic! • Moar Trail Magic! • ohgodtummehwhyeee
 I LOVE walking on paved road grade. The ups and downs are hardly ever murdery. The paved road itself is another matter, what with the knee pain and the jarring all of your joints and muscles and and and. But the grading just lets me roll right along.