170502 – Nothing beats camping at sunset in the desert

Day:  009
Date:  Tuesday, 02 May 2017
Start:  Campsite at Mile 115 beside Agua Calliente Creek, 3249 ft
Finish:  Campsite on ridge at Mile 137 near Thule Spring, 3471 ft
Daily Miles:  22 PCT, 1.0 other 
Total PCT Miles:  137.0
Weather:  Very warm and sunny
Accommodation:  Tent
     Breakfast:  Muesli
     Lunch:  Gorp
     Dinner:  Rehydrated chicken and mashed potatoes
Aches:  None in particular.  Just tired.
Highlight:  Reaching my goal for the day, more or less exactly at 5pm as hoped, despite plenty of climbing, descending and heat.
Lowlight:  Getting water from Thule Spring near where I am camped.  It involved descending a very steep crumbling slope to find the water looking absolutely putrid with orange slime everywhere.  It has definitely been purified before drinking, but it’s hard to forget what it looked like at source.
Pictures:  Click here

Map:  Click here for Google Map

I was up at 5:30am and on the trail by 6:30am.  I’m getting more efficient and everything is packed up in order and has its assigned place in my pack.  Water was again going to be scarce today so I was aiming to reach Thule Spring, 22 miles away, which was ten miles on from the previous water source.

The trail followed the babbling Agua Calliente Creek upstream for another mile, and then began a very solid climb, with a few exceptions, for the rest of the morning.  There were great views to the north and initially the temperature wasn’t too bad because much of the trail was in the early morning shadow of the mountain.  The vegetation was mostly wiry scrub, but there were sections dominated by huge orange boulders.  I carried more water today, determined to be able to drink as much as I wanted, but it added significantly to my pack weight.

As I neared “Mike’s Place”, a remote house with a water tank dedicated to PCT hikers, I encountered my second rattlesnake.  We both recognised each other at the same time, and I made an abrupt halt while the snake rattled for all its worth (a scary sound) as it slowly crawled off the trail.  I continued on.  After loading four litres of water at Mike’s Place, and encountering two brightly clad Japanese girl PCT hikers, each carrying umbrellas, I continued the climb which reached 5,700 ft.  It was tough work and I was drinking a litre every time I stopped (down to hourly).  But, as usual, the scenery and views were breathtaking and adequate rewards for the effort.

The balance of the day was spent descending 2,000 ft to where I am now.  It was a long day, but the body is coping.  No matter how hard the day has been, the evenings so far have been perfect.  It is very relaxing having dinner after the tent has been set up, and watching the sun light up the surrounding mountains, before lying down for 9-10 hours of sleep.  (One bonus of being perpetually dehydrated is that I don’t have to get up for the loo during the night!)

I may have to detour tomorrow because some of the trail is closed due to fire damage, but I have a backup plan that may involve road-walking to preserve my continuous foot travel to Canada.  I know some of my fellow hikers have already skipped sections, but each to his own.

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