It’s a chilly evening – I nestle down tight in my sleeping bag, letting my breath be my space heater and tightening my hood against the cold. When I’m out, I’m out – I’m hardly awoken by my alarm that’s 30 minutes earlier than we’ve agreed, and then it’s only that Pineapple’s chirps a merry tune at us that I even register that it’s morning. But nobody moves. Someone should move. The alarm goes off. Nobody moves.
The second time it sounds, I’m the somebody, much to my chagrin – but it’s 21.1 to the cache Flaming Hot has stashed for us, and everyone is trying to get there tonight. That mileage is much better than yesterday’s; should be a breeze.
But woooof, the last bit of uphill to Robin Bird Spring is less than fun.
The spring itself is nice, though, even if people do keep going uphill of it with towels and toilet paper. Ew. I clean my water twice – once with Aqua Mira, once with my Sawyer, and not entirely for the floaties.
Also, Big Spoon is here! I haven’t seen him since Casa de Luna, and it’s nice to see an always smiling face. We catch up until all my friends have left; I make my way off too, but I hope to see him again. That guy’s great.
I leave and feel the urge to dig a cathole; I find a great spot that I think it’s concealed from the trail, have a 4-star-er, and then someone comes along and shows me just how not-concealed I am. I can be completely alone, but it’s like the call of the cathole is too strong for everyone to resist. I need to get better at picking spots.
I come across U-Turn shortly after – he’s just not feeling it today, so he’s on another break. I’m not feeling it either, really, but at least the elevation is supposed to be wiggly as opposed to up or down. Should make it a little easier.
The morning’s walk is nicer than I expect – wiggly, yes, but with a liberal amount of down and trees, glorious trees for shade. We cross a bunch of roads for motorbikes, step over a load of gates to stop them biking on the PCT. I’ve heard it’s been a problem in the past, but there are so many of us this year it’s hard to imagine it being worth it.
Then, an arrow to more water – and a siesta at Landers Meadow Spring.
We read and write and relax or nap in the dappled sunlight, sneaking into the shade when it gets too hot. We watch people wash literally everything in the spring’s trough – bodies, socks, dishes1. We get to know each other a little better, and then one by one, we slip off into the afternoon.
The land changes from forest to desert again, and we come across a cache that we were pretty sure was there, buuuut that whole don’t-rely-on-caches thing made us carry the weight. I basically roll straight through with Sprinkles and Homegrown, nodding to the other hikers.
We catch Pineapple on the rolly before the last up; Evac rolls in at the low before the high, and then it’s the home stretch to our cache.
It’s harder than I think it should be – nothing we haven’t done before, nothing we won’t do again, but it sucks it out of me. Pineapple and I are leapfrogging – she passes me on the downs, I pass her on the ups, and soon we’re hiking together for moral support. How far off is this thing, it seemed closer on the maps…
And at last, at long, long last, our cache!
We’ve accidentally chosen a good spot for it – there’s a picnic table and ample room for camping. I choose a spot, and then admire our treasure trove – powerades and candy in addition to the water we asked for. All hail Flaming Hot, I think as I set up to cowboy, deliverer on promises in spades.
There’s a moratorium on the powerades until U-Turn arrives and we can raise a glass plastic bottle full of delicious sugar to Flaming Hot, and apparently Spaceman, who helped him deliver it. The two of them should be up in Lone Pine in Gypsy, climbing Whitney today or tomorrow. So rad.
U-Turn arrives and starts drinking his powerade, unknowing, and we laugh and cheers anyway. We cook dinner with the mice scurrying around our feet, and stay up carousing until the cold and the dark usher us to bed.
Start: 600.8 • End: 621.9 • Day: 21.1
Notable Accomplishments: I feel like staying still to siesta is an accomplishment • Kept up the mileage after my longest day • Made it to our cache!
 Not only is this gross, but I think it’s kind of in bad taste. Wanna wash yourself or do laundry or dishes? Use a ziploc, but fill it out of the spring/trough. Keeps it clean for everyone else. But to each their own, I guess.