I woke up feeling absolutely fatigued this morning. Everything hurt. I did start my period yesterday and usually I have a hard time hiking when that happens. I wasn’t surprised by how bad I felt. It took my time packing up camp and doing stretches before hiking up all the switch backs I went down last night back to the trail. I was going so slow because I felt so bad. I took a break after only three miles. Usually I like to get the most miles done in the morning but not today. Once again I didn’t plan to go far so I did have all day long to take my 100 breaks. My friend Money from the CDT gave me a call and lifted my spirits a bit. I continued hiking and taking breaks until the 500 mile mark where I hung out with Ashley and made a new friend named “Bitter Goat” he is triple crowning as well! Hitting the 500 mile mark today was the least exciting 500 mile mark I’ve ever walked by. I think it’s just because I’ve done it so many times at this point it’s nothing new. I’m looking forward to the 1 and 2k marks though. I played the 500 mile song as I’ve done every time I’ve hiked another 500 miles. At least that part never gets old.
After the 500 mile mark I hiked to the next water source which was a cistern that collected rain water. I had to crawl up underneath it and spin a circular lid off the top of it. I reached my arm down far to reach the dirty water that I scooped out with my soft water bag. When I pulled it up to look at it, it wasn’t bad. I continued to hang out with both Ashley and Bitter Goat there in the shade. I felt like a troll under a bridge. It was noon when I walked a few more miles to another shady break spot. The trail was very easy and cruisey. Once again I took a multi hour long break and stretched all my muscles. I wanted to push into Hiker Town tonight because I still had so much time and it wasn’t much farther. I knew it would be a bad idea because I was trying to take it easy and it would be over 20 miles. My shin started hurting the last mile before the last marked campsite before town. I decided that was my sign to stop hiking for the day so I pulled over and set up camp in a wind protected area of bushes and trees near Ashley. It was only 5pm. I was glad for all the time at camp to relax and rest up. I was worried why my shin started bugging me again but I’ll take two days mostly pain free! I planned to wake up early and hike the seven remaining miles to Hiker Town in early morning cool air.
This morning I woke up in the Manzanita Forest of Casa De Luna. I packed up all my things and went out front to the driveway to hang out with everyone. Joe made us all pancakes for breakfast with fresh fruit and coffee. We all put on Hawaiian shirts and got a picture together. It’s a tradition Terry and Joe have done for a long time. I had some coffee and tried not to be antsy about getting on trail. Since I’m cutting back my mileage, I have all day long to not go very far so I might as well kill time at a nice place! Terry dropped me off on the trail around 11am with Flower, Fungi, and Swede. Before we started hiking, Fungi lead us though a ten minute meditation session which was very refreshing to me. Even though it was awesome, I was feeling kind of gross from all the town food and drinking.
It was 11:30 by the time I started hiking and it was hot. I was enjoying the heat though. It was a little breezy and nice to take a few stops and enjoy it. My shin wasn’t bothering me at all. I couldn’t believe it. I was so skeptical. About three miles in Swede and I stopped to take a break in a tiny patch of shade. We both had spots on our body that felt like it was burning. Turns out it was from some Arnica Salve I used at Casa De Luna. Eventually it went away but I thought I was having an allergic reaction at first or that a bee had stung me and I didn’t notice it. Five miles and one backpacker radio episode later, I took another break in a shady spot under a tree with a picnic table. I stayed there for quite a while doing some stretches and eating a lot of food. I cooked my dinner so I didn’t have to carry extra water to do it. Veronica and Sophia ended up catching up. I hadn’t seen them since before San Jacinto. They now have trail names of “Feels” and “Booster Seat”.
Eventually I pushed on into the evening. I was actually feeling sore and fatigued today. I wanted to set up camp earlier than I did but there were not any good spots and I needed to go farther considering the amount of water I was carrying and the distance to the next source. The trail went through a badly burned area. The ground was loose black soil and dust clouds camp up with every step I took. The poisonous poodle dog bush was growing everywhere. I was careful not to touch it. Eventually I made it to a marked campsite on the map. It wasn’t very nice at all. There were burned dead trees everywhere along with the poisonous plants. The wind was blowing bad as well. I sat for a moment contemplating what to do because I wanted to be done hiking but it looked like no good camping was up ahead. Flower and Swede walked by and invited me to join them at camp in another half a mile. The campsite was way off trail and downhill which I usually don’t go for but it seemed like the best option. I was glad I followed them because I got to set up camp in a nice grove of trees and the wind was very minimal. My shin only ached a little bit when I took off my compression socks.
My shin still hurt when I woke up this morning. I was scared. I am mostly worried about making an injury worse before it gets better. It’s just so hard to tell. I packed up my tent, took time to stretch, and left camp before everyone else around 5:40am. The trail went uphill for a while this morning. There were clouds of fog rolling through the valley we slept in. My sleeping bag was a bit damp when I put it in my backpack. I used the “Seek” app to identify a new plant this morning. The prickly poppy. “Seek” is an app that helps identify plants by taking pictures of them. It also works offline which is the best part. I need to play around with it more in town when I have wifi to learn about the plants more. I zig zagged around the mountain as the PCT tends to do and the clouds slowly lifted. It was a really pretty morning. It reminded me a lot of the rolling sage brush hills of the beaver head mountains in Idaho on the CDT. Besides the prickly poppies, I also saw a lot of burnt bushes, and lupines that smelled like grape. The first water source of the day had bad reviews and when I looked at it, it was not appetizing and looked difficult to get. I decided to risk it and rely on an unpredictable water cache at the road. I lucked out and didn’t even have to filter my water. I took an hour break here and stretched some more. I couldn’t stop worrying. Eventually Fry, Pippin, and Dirty Mike all caught up to me. I spent the longest of all at the cache just taking care of myself. Since I am hiking lower mileage days I am trying to take lots of breaks and drag the day out as long as possible so I don’t get too bored at camp. Plus it’s fun to have time to hang out with other people at camp.
When I left my break spot it was pretty hot and the trail went uphill. I was looking forward to a call from my best friend from college, Teresa. Luckily I found a shady spot and cell service at our planned time to catch up. I was able to talk to her for over an hour before continuing to hike more. I was in such a grumpy mood today and having a ton of mood swings about my shin. It still hurt and I kept going back and forth between how bad it was or wasn’t. I took so many short breaks today just to stop and stretch out. I passed people back and forth as we all took turns taking breaks in small patches of shade. At one point I passed a bench commemorating Bob Kimmerly who came up with a 50 mile race in the area I was in. There was a sign showing all the winners from the past and I recognized Scott Jurek’s name who won the race multiple times. He is a famous Ultra marathoner who held the Appalachian Trail speed record for a while. Another one of my break spots I ducked into a tunnel of bushes and found a shady campsite where I met “52” and “Slim”. I also hung out with Fried Green here. It was 2pm and I only had to hike four more miles to reach my ending spot today. It was going to be a 19 mile day even though I am trying to cut my miles back. It’s still a lower mile day for me but it felt really long and I was hurting. It felt like I had to hike that far since there were no water options and I didn’t want to carry 8 pounds of water all day. Eventually I pushed on around 4pm and arrived at the Green Valley Fire Station around 5:30. I hung out at the roadside with a few other hikers before I walked over to set up camp and get water from a fire hose. While I was filling up my water, a lady named Terry pulled up quickly in a black SUV with other hikers in the back. It was Tom and Chef and they yelled at me to get in the car. I was confused because I already set up my tent for the night. The lady got out of her car and introduced herself as Terry. She gave me a hug and asked if I wanted to come to Casa De Luna. I had heard about Casa De Luna for so long. I couldn’t believe my luck. It is a legendary trail angel home who has been closed this year. I couldn’t believe I just got invited. Tom and Chef jumped out of the car to help me rip down my tent and throw all of my gear in the trunk in less than a minute. We were on our way though Green Valley to Casa De Luna. When we drove by the Gas station Terry yelled out the window to some hikers that she would be back to pick them up in a minute.
At Casa De Luna, Terry told us to go set up our tents in the Manzanita Forest in the back yard. And then to come to the driveway to hang out for dinner and charge our electronics. It was a magical forest. Dinner was served to about 15 of us hikers. It was taco salad night! I loaded my plate full of yummy taco veggies and beans. I was so happy. We all hung out together and had a few beers over dinner in the driveway. Terry was so funny and she seemed to have the time of her life getting to hang out with hikers. Her husband Joe came out to introduce himself and he put out a jar of weed he grew himself for everyone to share. I went to bed around 10pm which is very late for me. I was so thankful for today!
I was so anxious to leave this morning. Today would be the day I’d decide to keep hiking or take time off the trail. I wasn’t in a rush to leave since the weather was relatively cool and my only goal was to make it at least ten miles. Taking down my tent and moving it from the spot it stayed in the last few days was so nice. I couldn’t wait to get out of that campground. I hiked out with Pippin, Fry, Dirty Mike, and Lumber Jack around 8am.
The first mile went okay. I could feel my shin but it wasn’t hurting that bad. I looked at my watch around mile two and was thinking oh boy it were only two miles in and it feels like this I have no idea what mile ten will be like. We crossed the train tracks of the train that prevented me from getting restful sleep the entire time I was at the KOA. It would go by multiple times per hour and blow it’s whistle really loud. Right next to it was an underwhelming completion monument commemorating the completion of the Pacific Crest Trail. I talked to Fry and it was nice to pass the time and keep my mind off of the possibility of getting off trail. It was hard not to worry the whole time. After passing under a highway via a long dark tunnel, the trail went through a park known as Vasquez Rocks. According to my map, a lot of movies have been filmed there but I didn’t recognize the location since I don’t watch a whole lot of TV. There were signs identifying some plants that were cool. I learned two new ones. Desert Cucumbers (which apparently are poisonous according to Fry) and Bladder Pod.
By the time we got on the road that lead to Augua Dulce, I felt like I was good enough to keep on hiking. The trail goes straight through the town of Augua Dulce. We all ate lunch together at the Mexican Restaurant. I had a Chile Relleno and a Margarita. It was the most food I’d ever left on my plate as a hiker but I wasn’t too hungry after being in town and resting for so many days in a row. At the Mexican place I also hung out with Tom, Fried Green, Sunshine, and Chef. I hiked out around 4pm continuing on a road. We all set up camp together about four miles out of town. I was thankful I was feeling better but still really worried. I fell asleep rather early while everyone else hung out late into the evening.
I spent a total of five days at the Acton KOA waiting for my shin injury to heal. When I limped into town I knew I was in trouble and needed at least three days off. I got in contact with Morgan who runs Blaze Physio. She is a physical therapist who stations herself in Trail Towns on the PCT in order to treat hikers from her van. I was able to get a telehealth appointment with her on my first Zero day. Absolutely amazing. On top of the easy access, she also charges an extremely reasonable amount of $40 for a telehealth visit. I have health insurance and I know a visit to a regular PT (who I could only see after getting referred by a doctor) would cost significantly more and take way longer to see not to mention that I’m on foot so I don’t have transportation to get anywhere. Morgan is also a thru hiker so she understands what we are doing. For the most part, I don’t trust health care professionals when it comes to thru hiking matters due to some very poor and dangerous experiences in the past. I’m incredibly thankful that Morgan has my trust! If you have been reading this blog for a while, you might remember that on the Appalachian trail I had TWO doctors be unable to identify an obvious infection due to assuming it must be an overuse injury since hiking long distance seems absolutely crazy to anyone not involved in the community. The third (an awesome foot doctor) was able to identify the infection (MRSA) immediately and I ended up having my foot cut open, packed, and drained multiple times. In my opinion anyone with a minimal education such as a Wilderness First Responder (which I have) should be able to recognize the basic signs of an infection. Redness, swelling, hot to touch, and painful.
I was absolutely dreading all the days I’d have to take off trail. I really don’t enjoy taking more than one zero at a time when I’m on a thru hike. A day of rest is nice but after that I get bored and antsy to go hike. The first three zeros were surprisingly enjoyable despite all the anxiety. I camped the first two nights on the trail. One was with Angus and the other was was Cam, Dirt Magnet, Rainbow, Jasmin, and Spice Rack when they caught up. On zero day #1 I went into the town of Acton with Jasmine and Spice Rack a couple in their esrly 40s if I had to guess. I stocked up on snacks for the next few days and we ate at one of the only restaurants in town called the 49er. I got a salad and a BLT sandwich. This is the only time I would actually go into the town of Acton on all my zeros. I also had a telehealth appointment with Morgan that day. She originally thought I might be experiencing exertional compartment syndrome and that the swelling would go down eventually and I would be able to return to activity in 3-7 days. She showed me a taping method to relieve swelling and a lymphatic massage. The KOA let me use a cooler that was sitting by the hiker box so I was able to keep a bag of ice by my tent at all times and I iced throughout the day.
On my second zero I did laundry and took a shower before setting up camp at the KOA with all the other hikers. I was shocked by how many people were there. I’d say there were easily 50 tents that night. There were quite a few other injured hikers too including Maria from Denmark who was able to pick me up some KT tape from REI when she took a trip to get new shoes. I was thankful I didn’t have to go that far to get some because I looked for it in Acton but couldn’t find any! It made me feel a little better to know I wasn’t the only injured person taking multiple days off the trail. My new shoes and resupply box were also mailed to the KOA so I took the time to sort through that as well. On the third day the swelling still persisted but it was much better. I still hurt significantly enough that I know I would just make it worse again if I started hiking. I was really nervous that nothing seemed to get better after the third day. By the fourth day, I finally felt good enough to hike but I decided to take one more zero for good measure. Morgan from Blaze Physio was at the campground in the evening and she checked out my shin thoroughly in person. She ruled out the exertional compartment syndrome since it should have resolved a lot quicker than it was. She spent a lot of time physically examining my shin and asking what hurt and moving my foot around. She thought it very well could be either a stress fracture or very bad shin splints and tendonitis. I was so freaked out to learn it was looking like a stress fracture. My mind couldn’t stop racing about what I would do if I had to take six weeks off of trail to heal it and the stupid amount of money I might have to pay to get an XRay and MRI that would probably tell me nothing besides I am broken and I need to rest. She showed me a new taping method to support my muscles in my shin while they healed and some range of motion exercises as well. We both agreed that I would take one more zero before hiking 10 miles to Augua Dulce. At Augua Dulce I would make the decision to keep hiking if it felt good enough or commit to taking multiple weeks off trail if it didn’t. I was incredibly nervous and just hoping it would get better.
My last zero day was the most fun of them all. A lot of people I was looking forward to seeing all arrived at once and we all spent the day together hanging out at the pool and having fun. It was nice to enjoy the time and try to forget about what was stressing me out for a little bit. I also got to eat dinner with Doggone and his Wife Taxi Lady. During all these zeros I also spent a significant amount of time in my tent watching you tube videos about hiking other trails and bike touring while I iced my foot. Thankfully the KOA had wifi! Taking all these zeros was really hard for me but I know I needed every single one of them.
This morning I woke before sunrise. The moon was incredibly bright in the sky last night. A couple of times I woke up thinking it was early morning but it was the middle of the night. The first thing I did was get up and go to the bathroom. My left shin was in so much pain. I knew it was going to be a long day. I put two of my calf compression sleeves on my left leg before hiking out of camp. As I hiked it felt like the pain subsided a little bit but I think it was just my body getting warmed up. Three miles in I grabbed water from a fire station near a road. It would be the last paved road I’d see until the town of Acton 26 miles later.
The day warmed up quite fast but it wasn’t unbearable. Little gnats were flying in front of my eyes for a while and driving me crazy. The trail was also slightly sloped all the way around the mountain. It irritated my shin and ankle so much. I kept stopping to stretch my ankle by rolling it out and letting it stretch the opposite way the trail was pulling it. Now my shins felt awful. I did most of the climbing for the day and took a long break about 15 miles in. The trail was so easy, my body felt totally fine, not even exhausted but my shin was killing me. Angus caught up to me and we hiked together for a little bit. He knew my shin had been bothering me for a while and that it was really bad today. I told him I was going to take three zeros once I got to town. I debated cutting the day short and not doing as many miles but I thought I’d rather push on all the way into town so I could have some ice tonight and start my rest period tonight as well. The idea of getting up tomorrow to hike on my shin again and make it irritated after a night of rest sounded awful. Angus hiked with me until he couldn’t anymore. My shin just kept getting worse and worse and I kept having to sit down every couple of miles to take a break from it all. Angus left me at a water source near a ranger station so he could push into Acton before the campground that sells ice and held his resupply box could close. I didn’t think I would make it there in time and he offered to get the ice for me so I didn’t have to stress out about it. If a person would have been around with a car I would have immediately asked for a ride into town but it was on a dirt road with closed gates so no hope for a ride.
The last eight miles were the hardest part of the whole day. It was mostly all downhill. I would stop to let my ankle and shin relax occasionally. I could feel some sensations of crepitus that were a bit freaky. During one of these moments of stopping to relax my inflamed shin, the pain came on really sharp and intensely. I screamed and started crying. I wasn’t sure what happened any differently than the one hundred other times I had stopped to relax but something felt so wrong and I was really scared. The next mile was absolutely excruciating. I accidentally didn’t pick up my foot all the way a few times and banged it on a rock. When this happened the intense pain would return shooting up the front of my shin again. I sat down in the direct sunlight for a few moments to breathe and get the pain under control. As soon as I was a decent place for some shade I stopped to sit down for an hour. I met a lovely couple named Spice Rack and Jasmin. Spice Rack let me sit in his chair on the break. I thought he was crazy but he said he let Angus sit in it right before me! I was thankful for the resting spot. When I first met them I was still crying from how bad it hurt. After an hour of rest I continued on four more miles. I limped the whole way in and frequently stopped standing up just to let the pain subside. When I finally reached the trail that lead to the KOA where Angus went to get some ice I sat down. There was no way I could walk much further today. It wasn’t a good spot to camp but if I was alone I would have laid there right next to the trail until the next morning.
It was 7:30pm. Angus showed up at the trail with a bag of ice the KOA gave him for free. I was so grateful. I told him I couldn’t walk anymore and I was really scared to take off my calf sleeve containing all the inflammation until I knew were we were setting up camp. Angus went down the trail to scout out a spot if anything was close at all. He came back and told me we needed to walk one more minute and thirty seconds to a nice secluded spot. I got up thankful I didn’t have to sleep almost directly on the trail and hobbled for one more minute. At camp, I took off my calf sleeve. My ankle was fat and squishy. So was my shin. I was just glad I didn’t have to walk anymore and that my rest started tonight. It’s a bummer that I felt so good after two big days but my shin was holding me back. We camped with another guy named Patches. Angus got his new shoes and looked so happy in them. His old ones were completely falling apart in a painful way. I was happy he felt so good and can’t wait to see him hike the rest of the trail. I am a little bummed however that I will have to say goodbye to a great hiking partner I’ve had for the longest stretch so far! I am looking forward to seeing all the other awesome people I met again and maybe get to hike with them once I heal up! I legitimately didn’t take any pictures at all today because I felt so bad.
This morning I left Little Jimmy Spring at 5:30am. I was hoping to leave at 5 but I didn’t sleep well last night and it was hard to get going. I was able to see a good sunrise as I walked out of camp. The first thing I did today was climb up and over Mount Williamson. I was surprised by how sore my legs felt despite feeling fresh yesterday. Baden Powell was a big climb and I’m glad I was able to break these two climbs up into two different days . Mount Williamson was covered in super dry dusty soil and hardly any vegetation. There were steep drop offs from the side of the trail and I was conscious to not skip and fall. I took the downhill very slow. I felt a little ache in my left shin but it wasn’t bad at all. I crossed the Angeles Crest Highway back and forth all day. It reminded me of the blue ridge parkway or skyline drive on the AT. I was thinking to myself that it would be a good place to come back and do trail magic. It seems like a really popular recreation spot for locals. There were campgrounds and day use picnic tables everywhere along the Highway. I looked it up and it is 66 miles long. The middle portion gets closed seasonally for the snow pack to melt. This year there is probably no snow anywhere along the road. The last and only snow Ive seen for a while was way up high near 9k feet on Baden Powell. I was glad the road wasn’t too busy today because I had to do a five mile road walk to go around an area of the trail closed to protect an endangered species of frog known as the mountain yellow legged frog. I was dreading the roadwalk but I found that it wasn’t bad at all. I took a break at a nice campground right before the detour connected back to the PCT. There was a really nice cold flowing stream I wanted to stop and soak my legs in but it was still chilly in the early morning so I continued on.
Today I listened to more of The Hobbit audio book I am almost finished with and some backpacker radio episodes as well. It eventually did get hotter than it has been in a while but not too bad. Today I ran into all sorts of new hikers that I haven’t seen before. Most of these people seemed to have started about five days or more before me. The water carries were relatively far but not bad when the sources were really nice!
After hiking 22 miles I sat down to take an hour long break at 3pm. Angus finally passed me and we chatted for a bit and planned to hike the last four miles to camp together after we would meet back up at the next water source. I find that I really enjoy getting out of camp before my hiking partners and having the whole morning to myself. I really like ending the day and hiking the last few miles to camp with a friend! Angus moved on while I continued my break.
When I continued on from my break I ran into trail magic 0.5 miles later. Of course I had to stop! There were two TV actors from LA who had chairs all set up, music playing, cold drinks in a cooler, and snacks! Although I was stoked about the trail magic, at that point my shin was hurting so bad I was dying for a bucket of ice to plunge my left leg in. After hanging out with them for a while Angus and I hiked the last four miles to camp together after meeting up at the next water source. Right when we got to camp in a wide open flat spot with beautiful sunset views, I sat down and said I wasn’t getting up again. I took off my socks and shoes and realized my left shin and ankle was swollen. Red flags started going off. I didn’t feel tired from the day at all but my shin was definitely hurting very bad. Angus and I hung out and ate dinner together as the sun set. We camped with three other hikers. I knew I wanted to get to town tomorrow so I could take a zero day and start resting. I wasn’t sure what was wrong with my shin but I knew tomorrow was going to hurt.
I have to admit this is the first time I have been caught up on my blog since the first week on trail! Although I still ended up writing this at a break the next afternoon. I have been struggling so much to write and take photos. I’m not sure why.
Anyways, Wrightwood was the best trail town I have been to so far. It was almost unbelievable how nice everyone is to hikers and almost every business in town had some sort of Freebee for us. I slept in til 6:45 am which was nice. Dirt Magnet and Is room had no windows so it was nice to not be awoken by natural light. It is so hard for me to sleep in I practically can’t unless I am in a room with absolutely no natural light to wake me up. As soon as I woke up I started working on the last few days of blog posts and getting them published with pictures included. It felt good to be caught up for once. I will say I’m still a bit overwhelmed by how unorganized all my pictures are so far. I called the yoga studio in town that I heard was donation based for hikers. I wanted to confirm the information and make sure they knew myself and possibly other hikers were coming. Before the class I went to a coffee shop with Cam, Rainbow, and Dirt Magnet. They gave us all free drip coffee which was so nice and really good! I ended up buying a croissant and I even got a free patch there as well!
The yoga class started at 9:30 and all of us who came into town together ended up going. To be honest it was the worst yoga class I’d ever taken but I was still glad I did it! It was hilarious how casual it was and I barely stretched anything it felt like. At one point the yoga teacher called Rainbow a “Jackass” because he was doing a more advanced pose than the rest of us. Totally unacceptable in most yoga communities but I found the class to be so hysterical I wasn’t surprised. To be fair the class was called “gentle” yoga but it was way more gentle than I anticipated. I’m thankful we could all go to a class!
After yoga class I went to the hardware store to buy Leuko Tape for all my blisters since I ran out. It cost 200% what it normally costs on Amazon but it was nice to buy it in person because I’ve never seen it sold at a store before. These people know what hikers need. The hardware store also gave all the hikers really cool PCT pins for signing in the data book. I was glad I went to town just for the cool pin! I hope I never lose it. On the way back to the house we were staying at, I picked up some ice at the gas station for my shin. It didn’t hurt when I was hiking yesterday but as soon as I got to town it was aching. The gas station even gave hikers a free item off their little grill! It’s unbelievable what the businesses in this town do for hikers. Back at the house I iced my shin and did a couple of last chores before hitching out with Angus.
A nice local dropped us off at the trailhead around 3pm and we began hiking. My objective for today was to get up and over Mount Baden Powell. My legs felt fresh and I was glad for the rest before doing a big climb. The trail descended about 1k feet before a 2.6k climb up to the top of Baden Powell. At the trail head before the climb I ate a protein Puck and put on some music. I took it easy on the climb just because it was so much elevation gain at once. The last mile to the summit had about 20 switch backs but a lot of them were covered in snow. There wasn’t a ton of snow so I was actually happy to see it and get to do a bit of strategic route finding. At the top of the mountain I found Angus and we took some pictures at the summit.
Angus and I hiked the last six miles to camp together. I was really tired but I wanted to descend as much as possible so it could be a warmer night at camp. The trail followed a ridge after Baden Powell that had some snow on it. I slipped and took a couple of falls that kinda hurt. Luckily the snow eventually ended. The sunset was so pretty tonight. I was happy to get to hike in the evening hours. I love getting to hike first thing in the morning as the sun rises and last thing in the evening as it sets. Right before camp we both got water at Little Jimmy Spring. It was flowing beautifully out of a pipe. The campsite was so cool. There were picnic tables, large pine trees, and bear boxes. I set up a cowboy camp between two pine trees. I was so happy to be done for the day. I made some Ramen for dinner. I haven’t been cooking much at all. I wish I would have not carried a stove and sent it to myself in the Sierras instead. I couldn’t get to sleep very well so I looked at the map ahead for tomorrow and updated a personal data log I keep of my miles.
When I woke up my eyes the sun was bright in the sky. I panicked and thought I slept in until 7am or later. It wasn’t even six yet. I saw lost boy next to me eating some chicken nuggets he packed out. Everyone else was all ready to go and left camp while I packed up. At this point I was still planning on pushing past wrightwood. I got such a late start and had over 5,000 feet of certainly gain ahead of me. As I hiked, I noticed how sore my legs and the rest of my body were. When I caught up to the others cam let me know they were trying to find a place in town to stay and asked if I was interested. I was hesitant but eventually that no became a yes. I definitely needed a rest day. As we climbed on, the day didn’t get any warmer. In fact I was freezing all day with the cold wind blowing. Anytime I took a break I had my puffy on and sleeping bag out. I couldn’t get over how cold it was.
Today I could see some bigger peaks with snow on top nearby as we climbed higher. Near the end we got to walk through a nice forest of pines. I took two long breaks for lunch and snacks with everyone else and we all got to the Angeles Crest Highway around 5pm.
We stood on the side of the not busy road trying to hitch hike to town. It was about 10 minutes before Angus, Lost Boy and I got picked up in the first car. We got dropped off at the grocery store while we waited for the others to get in. Everyone in town was so nice to us. The grocery store even had a charging area and free snack section for hikers! Eventually once everyone was in town, we all ordered pizza and went to the brewery next door. Town food was amazing. It was so nice to get laundry done and take a shower! I was thankful for Dirt Magnet and Cam for setting this up. I was also really glad to be sleeping inside tonight as it is supposed to be 20 degrees on the trail.
At 4:45am I opened my eyes with no alarm. I lived up to my name this morning and walked out of camp at 5am. I assumed the others heard me and wouldn’t be far behind. I was on a mission today to get lunch at the Famous Mc Donald’s that was 0.4 miles off the trail at Cajon Pass. I had 24 miles to go. I didn’t use a headlamp at all this morning. It was my favorite morning on trail. I listened to all the birds wake up and watched as the sun rose and the streets in the valley got busier and busier with cars on their way to work. I was thankful I could be hiking a trail this morning and not worrying about going to work. The trail did the same thing today where it wound around the mountain side in and out of all the folds of the mountain. The terrain became less steep and more vegetation appeared. Eventually the trail started to go around a large lake where I took a long break to stretch, change, and eat breakfast at a picnic area near the shore. I kept looking back for the others to catch up. Surely they couldn’t be too far behind.
Once I saw the view down to Cajon Pass I was absolutely stunned. It was so beautiful. It was crazy to see how the trail had to wind down all the sandy hills to get to the freeway in the distance. I could see train cars going by as well which I later learned my friend Jenga was on. He just finished the Arizona Trail this week! Yesterday my left shin started hurting as if I had a shin splint. It was very painful today because I did so much downhill hiking. As the day went on I just got slower and slower because it hurt so bad. I was worried. When I got to the highway I was so stoked. It was 1:45 pm and I did most of the hiking I needed to do. Before I even got to Mc Donald’s I placed an order on the mobile app since the indoors are closed and we can’t walk thru a drive thru. I ordered a large ice coffee, 8 chicken nuggets with sweet and sour sauce, a medium french fry, and a large doctor pepper.
When I walked up to Mc Donald’s there was a large crowd of hikers outside waiting for food. I was glad I had already placed my order. Here I ran into Gaurdian who hiked a few hundred miles with my sister when she did some of the AT in 2019. It was good to see him! I know Emma has been waiting for us to run into each other so we took a picture and sent it to her. I hung out with Gaurdian and the other hikers in a grassy spot outside. My McDonald’s tasted so good! At Mc Donald’s I also ran into Lost Boy who we met in Big Bear and have been wondering where he got off to. He ended up hanging out with me for the rest of the day. After Mc Donald’s I got a large fruit container with Mango, Water Melon, Pineapple and Tajin from a little fruit stand in front of the gas station next door. It was delicious. I iced my shins with my left over drink ice and charged up my devices while I waited for the others to show up. It was almost two hours later before the first one did. I was surprised they ended up getting out of camp significantly later than me. I called my friend Carly/ Trail Diva while I was at Mc Donald’s. I found out she was only one day ahead of me. I looked in my food bag and realized I wouldn’t have to buy much from the gas station next door to skip the next town and catch up to her. I was excited! When I told the others they were all sad about me leaving. I was too but I really want to see my friend and felt like I could catch up to her soon.
I ended up hanging out at Mc Donald’s for almost six hours today while my things charged. I was going to walk across the highway to Subway with the others until Rainbow told me they were leaving soon and the walk over was harrowing anyways. He ended up bringing me a veggie sandwich to save me the trouble which was super nice! By the time we all hiked out together it was almost dark and it was cold. I hiked 5.5 more miles to camp at a water source with Angus, Rainbow, Cam, Dirt Magnet, and Lost Boy. It was fun to night hike in a group together. We arrived at camp near 10pm and all found spaces to cowboy camp. It was quite a busy site and we were trying to be quiet about it. My shin did feel better on the hike out. Today my sun burn from deep creek also bothered me a lot as well. My forehead hurt to move and my back felt like it was burning when I went to sleep. It was another cold night.
This morning I noticed that pitching my tent did keep me warmer at night. When I opened my tent doors it was noticeably colder. Dirt Magnet and Cam were packing up as well. I was the first to leave camp. It was a cold morning. I walked 3 miles to the Deep Creek Bridge. It was very high over the creek. There were tons of people camped in the sand near the creek bank. I went down to the creek to get some water and change out of my puffy jacket and fleece dress. It was so cold in the shade I couldn’t take off any of my clothes!
I continued on down the windy trail that hugged the side of the sandy hills that made the valley where Deep Creek flowed through. The creek was so pretty to follow. I loved hearing the cascading water echo up to the sandy hillsides above. Today I noticed two new plants. One of them was a gorgeous red poppy and the other was a small purple flower I later learned were chia flowers.
I arrived to Deep Creek Hot springs around 11 am. The hot springs were right on the edge of the creek. I immediately undressed, put on some sun screen and got in with Dirt Magnet, Angus, Cam, and Rainbow. The first hot spring we got in was apparently the hottest one. I loved it. The water was clear and you could see the hot spring gushing out of the creek bank into the small stone pool built to retain the hot water. The water would flow into the ice cold creek right next to the pool. We all eventually got into the cold water for a swim over to the hotel hot springs to check them out. I couldn’t believe how big the hot springs were and I was glad we were there on a Monday rather than the weekend. There was one hit spring that was so deep I could tread water in it. While we were all hanging out in it a man named Eric gave us all a beer which was absolutely perfect to enjoy! Eventually I went back to the hottest spring and then got out so my bra and underwear could dry a little bit before hiking. While I was sitting on the sandy beach, I noticed I was getting burned so I put on more sunscreen. It turns out it definitely wasn’t enough. Another local I was talking to for a while (Peter) had brought sandwich supplies and fruit for hikers he saw today. I was able to enjoy half a mustard and chicken sandwich with a mandarin orange. It was heaven. We all sat on the beach together eating lunch and drying off. I decided to push on early while everyone else went for one more dip.
I pushed on another 10 miles to a camping spot. The trail continued to hug the sides of the sandy hills as it exited the creek valley. The closer I got to camp, the windier and colder it got. I was thinking to myself there was not way I wanted to pitch a tent tonight. I got some water at Grassy Valley Creek before setting up camp nearby. The other showed up right before I was about to fall asleep. It was so cold I couldn’t crawl out of my sleeping bag to join them for dinner. I was asleep before 8pm.
It was freezing cold when I woke up this morning. I had no motivation to get out of my sleeping bag until it got a little bit warmer. This morning was the first time I used my gloves on the PCT. I left camp before Angus and Rainbow. Before leaving I checked the map for the day and the terrain looked incredibly easy. It was. I skipped the first and only water source we had for the first 17 miles of the day. Since I already had three liters there was no reason to get anymore. The trail was super gentle and followed a forested ridge next to the town of Big Bear. I was able to get a view of the lake we hung out at yesterday. 5 miles in I was taking a break and stretching when Angus appeared. He said he had friends who were going to see him on the trail in about 8 miles if I was interested in hanging out with them. Angus is from the UK so it is crazy that he would know someone from home who could come visit him in America.
8 miles later I found myself sitting in a dirt road pull off with Angus, Rainbow, Dirt Magnet , and Cam. We laid around in the sun waiting for Angus’s friend Josh. After a while Angus realized his friends must be lost so he went down the first road to look for them. He returned in a Tesla which was really funny. Josh and his friend Golchang brought us some beers and we hung out for a while with them. They were very fun to get to know.
In the late afternoon we all pushed on to camp together. It was fun hiking with Dirt Magnet and Cam they are both from the UK was well. We all camped near a pretty creek. I pitched my tent tonight since I was so cold last night. I learned that my filter has a crack in it today and it has been leaking all over. I need to contact the company who makes it in town and look into buying a steripen. Filtering water is my least favorite thing to do on trail ever. They seem so much easier to use if the water is clear. I fell asleep shortly after we got to camp since I was so tired today. I didn’t sleep well in town.
I woke up early at Kenny’s despite trying to sleep in. I took some time to catch up on my blog and post on social media. I’ve been so checked out of the internet it was hard to make myself post anything. I just haven’t been inspired. Or maybe I’ve just been having too much fun. Kenny made all 15 of us a massive breakfast of potatoes and spices, waffles, fruit salad, eggs, and sausage. He did all this before driving everyone around all day. He drove hikers back to the trail, into town, and to the post office. It’s hard to believe one man could do it all.
I spent a little bit of time in the town of Big Bear to buy some post cards and have lunch. I had one of my favorite meals here so far. It was a lox and cream cheese bagel with capers! one of my favorite meals ever. I hung out on the beach with Angus and Rainbow while we waited for Kenny to pick us back up and bring us to the trail. He dropped us off around 5pm. I felt so well rested. I was genuinely sad to leave Kenny’s just because he was so nice and kind. I’m so glad I decided to stay with him!
Back on trail I hiked six more miles to camp with Angus and Rainbow. It was super easy hiking. I could tell it was going to be a cold night before I even laid down. If I had to guess it did get below freezing.
I woke up at 5am under the massive tree where I cowboy camped with Angus and Rainbow. 23 miles to Highway 18. I wanted to get there as early as reasonably possible just so my feet could have a long recovery time in town. I left camp first and hiked for 9.5 miles straight before taking a break to stretch and eat. I kept asking other hikers around me if they had seen a girl named Passport. Passport is someone who hiked the AT the same year as me in 2019. We have some mutual hiking friends and I have talked to her a lot through Instagram. I knew I was very close to her and wanted to make sure I didn’t pass her up by accident. A few hikers told me they had saw Passport early this morning.
At my break I texted Kenny. A Trail Angel in the town of Big Bear who hosts hikers at his house. I had my packages sent to his place. Kenny said there was room for all three of us tonight. I was looking forward to being picked up by him! After my break I continued on. I took my next break at a picnic table with a bunch of other hikers. I thought it was the water source since I saw a faucet but it wasn’t working. Here I got to meet Passport finally! Angus and Rainbow met me here as well. It was 11 am and we only had 10 miles to go after taking some nice long breaks. What an easy day!
We all easily made it to the road by 3pm taking two more breaks in the shade. A lot of other hikers were going into town today too. I texted Kenny when we were 30 minutes from the road like he asked. When we got there we hung out in the shade for a little bit. Kenny pulled up in a blue car and asked if anyone was looking for him. The three of us got in his car and he handed us all a cold soda the second we sat down. Amazing.
Kenny is the sweetest trail angel I have ever met. He drove us back to his house where he dropped us off and gave us a short tour before going to pick up some other hikers. Kenny’s house was filled with musical instruments and photos of his kids. He showed us some left overs from Cinco De Mayo so we could make burritos for lunch. He also gave me my two packages I had shipped to his house. A resupply package from my family and a box of Protein Pucks sent from Protein Puck! We all hung out and ate food while we waited for Kenny to come back. As soon as he did we all got started on showers and laundry. We all ended the night in Kenny’s hot tub with some drinks. We got to meet a tramily named the Happy Campers who all started together a week before us. They certainly were happy campers.
This morning I got out of camp so late. I didn’t start hiking until 7am. The preserve was so nice that I didn’t want to leave it. I was feeling really sore from the day before so I wanted to take it slow this morning. Getting out of camp late always makes my day feel so much longer. Today was absolutely the case. Less than two miles of hiking and we crossed White Water river. It was already hot at 8am so I couldn’t resist the temptation to get in the river. It was nice to clean my shirt a little bit and soak my whole body. There were a ton of other hikers there doing the same thing. After being thoroughly soaked I pushed on into the heat. My shirt was dry within 3 miles. It’s insane how hot and dry it can get out here! I climbed the rolling desert hills with no shade before dropping down to the first crossing of Mission Creek. There was a shady spot where I took a break since it was the first shade I had seen in six miles. My feet were getting irritated from the sand and I felt some small hot spots. I made sure to wear two pairs of socks again and tape over the hot spots. Lots of other hikers were taking a break there as well. No one wanted to leave to hike out in the heat of the day. I checked my watch and mileage at 10am and I only hiked half of what I usually have done by then.
I decided to hike on in the heat of the day anyways. I knew the trail criss-crossed over Mission Creek so my plan was to keep dipping my shirt and head in the creek to stay wet and cool despite the heat. This section of trail reminded me so much of the Gila river on the CDT except with way more trail. It was more difficult to navigate than the rest of the trail so far but I felt like my naviguessing skills were pretty sharp after the CDT. I honestly had a lot of fun doing a little bit of route finding. Even though I was hiking along a creek, it was uphill all day. I was still struggling in the heat for some reason. I kept running into Valerie and Martin from Belgium and taking breaks with them. After making it though the whole mission Creek section the trail switch backed steeply up and out of the river canyon. By this point my quads were burning. Luckily the audio book I am listening to got very interesting so I was able to distract myself from the soreness a bit. When I reached the last water source for 17 miles I took a break to make dinner. I ate my ramen noodles with my hands since I unfortunately left my spork somewhere. At that point Angus and Rainbow caught up to me and we hiked four more miles together into the dark. We all wanted to push it into town tomorrow night. By the time we finally found a flat spot to cowboy camp I was exhausted. It was about 9pm. I checked the map and saw that we climbed 7.7k vertical feet today. Now it made sense why today was so hard. This is the most vert I have knowingly backpacked in a day. I fell asleep without writing and fell another day behind on my blog.