Date: Monday, 29 May 2017
Start: Campsite by the trail at Mile 577.2, 5302 ft
Finish: Campsite by the trail at Mile 598.8, 5659 ft
Daily Miles: 21.6 PCT
Total PCT Miles: 598.8
Weather: Very warm and sunny
Dinner: Rehydrated chicken Teriyaki with rice and vegetables
Highlight: Later in the afternoon the trail climbed into a pine forest which was a definite improvement on the dry dusty trail across exposed scrubby slopes under a blazing sun that had preceded it. The tall trees cast plenty of shadows and the trail was often covered in pine needles. It was on a 20 ft easement through a cattle property, though there were few signs of cattle. I think the homestead was in the valley far below and that’s probably where the cattle were too.
Lowlight: I had a bad morning. In Tehachapi I seemed to contract a mild stomach bug which is persisting, so I’m feeling a little sub-par. This was exacerbated by getting dehydrated yesterday and then not eating enough during the day. On top of that, I felt compelled to load up 6 litres of water at the spring six miles after I started hiking, because it seemed unlikely I would reach the next one, 19 miles further on, before camping. The very heavy pack, warm conditions, and insufficient nutrition all combined to make the morning’s hiking very hard and slow. I was cursing my bad planning. I should have walked an extra few miles yesterday and then I would have been sure of making the next spring by nightfall and therefore not needed to carry so much water.
Pictures: Click here
Position: Click here
Map: Click here for Google Map
I enjoyed a nice long sleep and drank the last of my water before hitting the trail at 6:30am for the six miles to a spring. It was already warm and I was feeling a little sub-par (see above). My progress was slow and it took 2.5 hours to get there. Getting and purifying the water was laborious, but I had decided I needed to drink my fill as well as carry six litres, enough to see me through to mid-morning tomorrow. I also ate my muesli, my first food for the day. The next couple of hours was very hard work, with a lot of self-analysis and self-criticism going on. It was so hard, I decided to have a break after an hour and a second an hour later. For the latter, around 12:30pm, I found a nice shaded spot under one of the few trees and even had a brief nap.
When I got going again, it was still hard, but I seemed to get my mojo back. The country wasn’t very inspiring, and there were plenty of ups and downs on the dry dusty trail, but my speed picked up. I was drinking my fill and forcing handfulls of gorp (trail mix) down for energy and it seemed to be working. As the afternoon wore on the scenery improved as well. The higher the trail climbed the more forested the terrain became, with the shade very welcome.
In a departure from usual practice, I decided to cook my dinner (including my usual mega-cup of hot chocolate) by the trail at 4:00pm, reasoning that it would lighten my pack and allow the sun to fall a little before I resumed hiking. After dinner, the trail stayed high and in the forest, with few possibilities for camping given the sloping terrain. Eventually, around 6:30pm, I found a small spot, set up the tent, washed and went to bed, happy that the day had ended better than it had started.