PCT Day 5: Ranchita

Miles Hiked: 20.8

Total Milage: 101.2

Last night I didn’t sleep well at all. Despite our campsite being tucked away in a perfect semi sheltered nook it still got really windy. When it’s really windy at night my non free standing tent flaps in the wind like crazy. It’s very loud and on top of that I’m constantly worried about the shelter totally falling over which almost happened a couple of times. A non free standing tent is a tent without typical tent poles. Mine is set up using my trekking poles and tent stakes to create tension. They can be difficult to set up at first but I have pitched mine hundreds of times and know all the best ways to do it. In the desert however, finding ground that will hold tent stakes well can be difficult. The loose sand makes for a week tent pitch. Needless to say, I slept in later than planned and still didn’t get as much rest as I wanted to.

Luke and I started hiking at 6:30am. I felt a bit stressed because we had a reservation in town and we needed to get to the trailhead by 5pm. We had 21 miles ahead of us and they all went by really slow today. Being on a schedule makes me so anxious but I was also very thankful Luke got us a bed for tonight. He is supposed to catch a bus back to San Diego at 8am tomorrow. I’m super thankful he came out for the first 100 miles of my hike! I will miss having a hiking partner for a while. It will be sad sleeping alone in my tent tomorrow night.

To start the day we hiked almost five miles before stopping for a morning coffee break. Both Luke and I were very groggy. It was already hot at 8am and we found some shade. Luke used his massive car camping french press to make us some great coffee. I usually don’t drink caffeine but I needed it today. Thankfully Luke is a nut about having great coffee in the morning so I got to benefit from his struggle of carrying a very large and unnecessary kitchen tool. Besides that Luke is also carrying a lap top (for personal reasons), an electric toothbrush, a sleeping bag liner he totally does not need and a one person tent even though we usually share mine. His pack is stupid heavy but he willing decided to bring all those things since he isn’t worried about the long term in terms of his body performing well while backpacking. During our break quite a few hikers passed us. There wasn’t really any room for others to join us and they just kept hiking by. I really hope I get to connect with another hiker soon! It turns out that Sam had to get off trail for a family emergency so the one person that seemed to be going my pace is already gone.

The trail was very twisty and turning today as it wrapped it’s way around the massive desert mountain it was hugging. The views were incredible and I could regularly see the trail wrapping around the mountain 0.5 miles or even more ahead of me. It was fun to try and spot all the other hikers in the distance and I would wave to Luke occasionally as he was a few minutes behind me for most of the day. We took an hour long lunch break near a water cache. This cache is officially maintained by the PCTA and it’s the only water source for the entire 25 mile stretch between the town of Julian at Scissors Crossing and the town of Ranchita at Barrel Springs. The person who maintains the cache was walking his poodles on the trail today. His truck was parked next to the numerous pallets of 1 gallon water jugs for us to use. A sign said not to take more than 3L which is smart to conserve water for other hikers. Even though this person has driven their truck out here with all the water, it certainly did not look like a regular use road to access it. Either way, the water is what we all really needed.

I wanted to lounge around even longer than I did at lunch. My body was really sore and there were new pains every other mile today. As long as it’s a new pain every day I’m not too worried but sometimes I still get anxious about the new ones. Since we had somewhere to be at a certain time, I kept pushing on despite my ankles, knees, and feet telling me to stop hiking today. There was no way I was going to miss out on a cold drink before the store closed at 5. I got up and continued on for another five miles before stopping to break at a tiny cave. It looked like a tomb big enough for one person.

Crossing mile 100 today felt super anticlimactic. It’s nice to be done with the first 100 of a new trail! The mile marker was very hot and in direct sunlight on a narrow part of the trail with minimal views and no where to get a decent picture. I felt depleted. I was purely exhausted and every part of me wanted to be done hiking today but we still had one more mile to go. I took a break anyways because my feet hurt so bad. I think I need to take a rest day tomorrow even though I don’t really want to. I massaged my feet and sucked it up for twenty more minutes. When I got to the road it was perfect timing to catch the last free shuttle to the hostel Luke booked for us. It was one hour before the tiny convenience store closed. Apparently the store burnt down last year so they are operating out of a small makeshift building. Luke and I were glad to support them. Even though the hostel kinda sucked we were glad it existed! We joked that our room literally looked like a “nice jail cell”. I wasn’t totally turned on to the idea of spending two nights here.

For dinner I got a cold Gatorade, some mandarin oranges, and a Loma Linda Thai Red Curry packet along with rice. Our options were pretty slim but I was impressed with how good the curry was! I would definitely want to try out other kinds of food from the same company. It’s precooked in a pouch and it seems like everything they have is vegan or vegetarian which is cool. I love finding new foods I like! Sadly I think it is too heavy to carry on the trail but maybe as a treat one day! I felt so exhausted I just laid down for an hour until I had the energy to go take a shower. My feet pain calmed down a bit but the knees and ankles generally ached all night long. Taking rest days is really hard for me but I think it’s important I take one tomorrow.

Published by Deserrae Potts

Thru Hiker Blogger

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