Date: Wednesday, 31 May 2017
Start: Campsite at Willow Spring, 1.6 miles north of the PCT Mile 620.0, 4547 ft
Finish: Camped at McIvers Spring, 0.3 miles east of the PCT at Mile 643.8, 6693 ft
Daily Miles: 22.0 PCT, + 2.0 from Willow Spring, + 0.3 to McIvers Spring
Total PCT Miles: 643.8
Weather: Cool and overcast all day with wind and rain in the afternoon
Lunch: Tortillas and peanut butter
Dinner: Rehydrated Chilli Mac with beef
Aches: Right shoulder giving occasional trouble.
Highlight: Sitting on a rock by my tent enjoying the first (and last) rays of sunshine for the day while I ate my Chilli Mac.
Lowlight: None really
Pictures: Click here
Position: Click here
Map: Click here for Google Map
Knowing I had a long day ahead of me, I left just before 6:30am, determined to get some good miles under my belt by noon. The scenery remained desert scrub punctuated by small copses of Joshua trees, but there were some sizable climbs and good views, though somewhat marred by the heavy cloud cover and distant haze. The walking was hard as much of the trail was sand, but at least it was cool for a change. In fact, this whole day would have been a lot tougher under a hot sun.
I was working hard to maintain a good pace, but feeling low on energy and debating whether I need more calories in my daily consumption as I approached a dirt road crossing in a saddle around 11am. Many of the hikers have tortillas and peanut butter or Nutella for lunch, and I was thinking maybe I should experiment. Then, at the road crossing, I found a trail angel had left water for hikers along with other goodies including, you guessed it, tortillas and peanut butter! I could not believe it, and made a pig of myself as I sat in one of the camp chairs left with the stash. It was a nice change, but the jury is out on whether it made that much difference. I left a donation in a bottle with the stash and resumed my hike which started with a steady climb of nearly 2000 ft up the face of Mt Skinner, a real heart starter on a full stomach. At the top of the climb, 7000 ft, there were fantastic views, but it was also very cold with an icy wind and then light rain.
The trail then followed a series of ridges northwards, staying above 6000 ft, but entering a pine forest and leaving the wind behind. I sped up, trying to keep warm, and enjoyed the lovely forest trail for the next couple of hours. There are supposed to be bears in the area, and it looked to me like the kind of place I would like to hang out in if I was a bear. However, the only animal I saw was a large jack rabbit which I surprised at a corner. Rather than take off, it sort of hopped around in an indecisive way for a minute or so before leaving.
The last hour or so was less interesting with the trail following an ATV track across a scrubby plain. I reached McIvers Spring, where there is also a cabin, soon after 6pm to find quite a lot of PCT hikers camped in the area, after only meeting one all day.
Tomorrow I have nine miles to Walker Pass and Highway 178 from where I will hitchhike, hopefully, the 37 miles to Lake Isabella for a day off to rest and resupply. Looking forward to it.