The sun is closer to risen than I’d like in the morning, but cowboying makes for an easy pick-up. Everyone settles in for breakfast at the table, drifts off; I grab three liters from our cache for the trek to Devilfish’s supposedly super-reliable cache ten-ish miles ahead. Yoda and Wolf both plan to pack out the emptys we’ve created; Wolf is also tasked with writing on the extra bottles: Not a Maintained Cache, Please Pack Out Emptys! We hope it works – hiking the PCT and the CT has restored my faith in humanity, and I think the community will come through for us again.
It’s immediate ups for us today, and on loose sand, to boot. The trail is giving us uphill moguls – wee little up downs in the middle of the ups – and I am starting to get annoyed. How do these happen? How can I make them stop?
Wolf passes me, and I feel like the slowest of the slow. It never helps when you’re able to see where the trail’s going, see the road it’s going to meet up with miles in advance, and my brain is reaching out towards it when it should be telling my feet to move.
These miles are hard for me – I’m having a rough morning, I’m just somewhere else when I need to be here, doing these miles, not mentally doing those later miles, and I wrestle with my brain all the way to the cache at Bird Spring Pass.
Once there, Yoda asks how I’m doing. I come up with a scale: Excellent/Fantastic > Great > Fine > Okay > Shit. I’m sitting at “Okay” at the moment. Just okay. She tells me she’s about to make my day better.
And damn, does she, when she shows me the cache. There are chewy granola bars and pop tarts and Reese’s Nutella and and and. There’s also a load of water, and a station of things hikers might need, from duct tape to naproxen to external batteries holy shit you can charge your phone here. Code Fantastic, I repeat, Code Fantastic. Always amazing how the little things make my day, and how quickly a day can turn around.
After a s’mores granola bar, I curl up in the shade of a Joshua Tree for a brief siesta. The bees are what wake me up, exploring around and on me, because bees have zero chill. Can’t just hang out nearby. Gotta always be all up in your shit, exploring, just in case you’re a flower. I’m not a flower, so they need to just chill.
But they won’t, and I’m shooed out of my siesta spot early because of it – it’s only 1pm. Still super hot. I go ahead and grab a little duct tape to supplement my stash, grab a little water to make my way on up the trail, but there are more bees near the water, and they really, really think my blue and orange pack is a flower. A lot of them. Sooo apparently it’s their pack now.
I run my ass over to where Wolf’s been under his cleverly tarped-out groundsheet, join Evac and Sprinkles and Homegrown and him in conversation. Friends don’t let friends leave between 1 and 3, after all. U-Turn wakes from his own nap and joins us, and soon we’re all doing the avoid-the-burning-sun dance under umbrellas and the tarp.
I affirm my morning thought about a campspot for the evening. The topo lines spread out right around mile 641, right when we join a dirt road, and I bet that, even though there are no listed campsites there, that there’s something that could fit all of us. I hope I’m right – everyone’s headed there, so it’s on me if it doesn’t pan out.
But first, we have a rough climb ahead of us, the tread of which is loose sand. In other words, this could take a little while – at least for me. I’m feeling a little more motivated as I steal my pack back from the bees, but not much.
The hill isn’t as hard as I think it’s going to be, but I get passed like crazy all the same. It’s disheartening, but at least I’m making progress. I even pass some folks while they’re on their break, even if they do pass me again relatively quickly once they’re done.
The road and the flat come sooner than I think it will, shortly after I pass U-Turn taking a break; I’m met by Wrench at the top, who tells me where the nearby spots are. I don’t spot any of the Wolfpack, and I know they’re mostly ahead of me, so I keep moving.
The flat is flat for sure, but it’s also covered in bushes, tight sage scrub that limits where one could sleep. I start to get nervous – I told everyone this was feasible; is it not? Am I about to be outwitted by a bunch of plants? But I keep moving; this is a test, I say, a test put to me by the Thruhiker Gods, testing my faith in the provenance of the trail. Sho ’nuff, there they are, every one of them (but U-Turn) – and the chorus of howls I’m greeted with is music to my ears.
I set up in the growing wind; we talk peaks and valleys, high points and low points of our days. I say I’m happy to be in camp with everyone; I just had a hard time today starting out, staying focused, getting the miles done. I’m mentally done with this section, ready for new shoes in Lake Isabella and new sights north of Walker Pass. I’m surprised to find that nearly everyone feels the same way – emotionally exhausted, done with the desert. It’s always nice to find that you’re not alone.
So it’s warm fuzzies as the wind gets stronger, warm sleeping bag as I settle in, warm thoughts about Walker Pass – and new shoes! – in the morning tomorrow.
Start: 621.9 • End: 641.9 • Day: 20.0
Notable Accomplishments: Lived through loose sandy trail • So happy with these long siestas • Trust in the Thruhiker Gods and they shall provide