It seems I’m getting worse at journaling at the end of each day. Sometimes I’m just so tired that all I can do is eat and put my head down. Other times I’m busy socializing and by the time I make it to my tent I’m too tired to carry on.
The last I wrote I was camping on top of a ridge with views of San Jacinto from my tent. That turned out to be the most challenging night of the trail thus far. As Jacob had warned me, there were 70mph wind gusts and being on top of the ridge allowed full blasts of the wind with little protection. The joint where my trekking Pole fits into my tent ended up ripping and I debated what to do. I got maybe three hours of sleep that night.
The following day Union Jack and I planned about 16 miles to the next campsite. It was all uphill, gaining about 5,000 feet of elevation throughout the day. We stopped at the last water source before the campsite and took a nap. I drifted asleep quickly, tired from the sleepless, windy, night. From that point we had only 7 miles to the campsite we hoped to make it to.
The first 2-3 miles were okay but shortly after I lost just about every ounce of energy I had left in me. The winds were brutal and relentless, pushing back against us as we trudged onward up the trail. My legs were shaking and I wanted nothing more than to stop right there and make camp but there weren’t any tent sites around and I needed to make it to Big Bear to resupply in time.
Union Jack took the lead and tried to motivate me to make the last couple of miles. He must have been tired too but he kept us moving forward. At one point we came around a turn in the trail to find a dead tree completely blocking our path. On the left side the trail steeply fell down the mountain. On the right it climbed steeply up. The only option was to take off my pack and weave it through the branches as I weaved through them myself.
It was almost too much to bear. I had little energy left and I felt completely defeated. After all of the elevation gain with little sleep there just had to be a dead tree blocking the trail. I began to laugh but I was on the verge of tears.
There is no choice on the trial but to go on even if it’s the last thing you want to think about doing. One way or another if you decide to quit you have to make it to a town or a road where the trail intersects. As much as you may wish it, a helicopter cannot magically appear and take you back home…and so I continued on.
It was another 2 miles to where we wanted to camp. The winds turned ice cold and I began to shake. The wind really wicks every bit of warmth off of your body. My only thoughts were that I must make it to camp and I did not stop to put on more layers.
Finally…finally…we made it down into a small valley with a stream where we would camp. I found a relatively flat spot, threw my pack off and quickly put on my puffy, wind jacket and pants. I laid my groundsheet down and then remembered that I had to sew my tent back together.
I again felt defeated but I had no choice but to fix it. I tried, hopelessly, to make the pole fit in without the socket but it just wouldn’t do. I grabbed a needle Jacobs Grandma had given me and put a long string of floss through. I didn’t really know how to sew but I knew that I could make it work.
After about 5 minutes I had sewn the pole joint back to the tent and I was able to set my tent up. Good thing too because it was getting colder every minute. I got inside of my tent and threw on my thermals before putting my puffy and wind jacket back on. It was so cold that I felt the need to be inside of my sleeping bag in addition to all of my layers. I had never been this cold on the trail thus far.
I heated up water and enjoyed fried rice followed by a glass of Breakfast Essentials chocolate milk. The milk hit the spot so well that I could only think of having another one. I needed to filter water for the night but it being so cold outside made it hard to want to get out of my tent. To motivate myself I heated up a cup of hot water and added powdered milk and another breakfast essential into it so that when I came back with water I would have a hot beverage to warm back up.
It worked well. After consuming the hot chocolate I got in my sleeping bag and that was it. I slept for 12 hours straight, not waking up to toss or turn once. At 7:30am the next morning, I woke up and packed up camp. Union Jack needed to make it 17 miles up the trail to get to Big Bear on time and I still needed to make a plan for myself.
The day before was discouraging. I had never felt so tired or so defeated on the trail and I wasn’t looking forward to more elevation gain. Like I said before, there’s no way to magically extract yourself from the trail and so I filtered myself some water and continued on.
The 38 met a highway about 12 miles from where I had camped and I so badly wanted Jacob to pick me up. We had discussed him picking me up when he went home from Coachella so that I didn’t have to spend money on a hotel room and that was all I could think about.
We made it to a group site cabin and took a lunch. Not having gotten a solid plan from Jacob I ended up calling our friend and roommate Ethan to see if he could pick me up near the highway. It was either this or wait until Saturday around noon to make it to the next highway access point. Thankfully Ethan said yes.
He picked me up on Rainbow Lane and took me to In-N-Out before going home. I was spoiled and it felt so good. That night Jacob would come home and we would finally get to spend some real time together. It’s hard being away from your best friend and not being able to connect regularly. Especially when you’re out in the woods and quite frequently alone.
I took a double zero and it felt amazing. My ankles were so swollen that you could not see them. My toes were fat and the tops of my feet puffed out. There was no pain when I applied pressure but they were indeed swollen. I spent my two days editing my video footage, spending time with Jacob and icing/elevating my feet. Finally by the end of the second day they were looking closer to their normal size.
My ankles on the second day…still swollen but getting better.
I got a ride back to Rainbow Lane and picked up the trail right where I left off. I passed a few roads and a private zoo, though I saw no animals from the trail. The plan was to make it 6.2 miles to Arraste Trail Camp and make camp there. Even though it was still early in the day once I arrived I made camp anyway, not seeing more campsites for another 9 miles.
Trail magic provided by the Big Bear Hostel. This couch was the most plush sitting I’ve done on the PCT!
Good friends of mine are coming to the Deep Creek Hot springs on Saturday and I’m very excited to meet them. Since it’s Monday and the hot springs are only 57 miles away I have plenty of time to make it there. I’m planning on doing about 10-12 miles a day until then which should put me right on time. I need to take it easy anyway for the sake of my ankles.
The forecast for the next few days is rather cold and the winds tonight are relentless yet again. It seems they will die down after tonight but the temperature will stay between 48-55 according to my weather app. I’m currently in my tent with two layers of pants, my thermals, thick socks, puffy and wind jacket. Only my hands are cold and that’s from writing this. It’s only 6:30pm and I have already eaten dinner, finished my camp chores and have written a journal entry. It’s going to be a long couple of hours until sleep with lots of thinking.