PCT DAY 33: Mile 599 – Mile 618.3
Monday May 16, 2016: 19.3miles (30.9 km)
I have a feeling even the birds woke up happy this morning. I was awake just before 5am and the first sound I heard was birdsong…and then silence, the wind has died down. I nudged Hammer awake “Can you hear that”? I asked. “What, I can’t hear anything”. Exactly, no wind. Last two days have been exceptionally tough…with heavy packs we climbed over 3,000 feet battling wind almost all the way. And this morning blessedly no wind and sunshine.
With a spring in our step we made a early start to take advantage of the conditions. We hiked on a private road for just a bit over a mile and passed the 600 mile marker where we made a quick stop for a photo. Apart from the 100 mile mark this is only the second time we remembered to celebrate a milestone.
From here the trail descended into what can only be described as the most idyllic hiking on the PCT so far. I don’t know if it was the stunning pine forest or the absence of wind or slightly lighter pack but it was delightful. The only sound was the crunch of my shoes on the soft sandy trail and the most beautiful forest with tall pine trees. I hiked by myself most of the morning with Hammer trailing behind deep in conversation with Petra “Ironlady”. It was so quite I could hear their voices. Every now and then the silence was broken by the sound of a woodpecker hard at work on the trees.
We stopped for water at Landers Meadow Spring around mid-day. From here the next water source is 42.5 miles. We cooked our dinner here to save water for the next 2 days. We are lucky that it has been relatively cool and we are not drinking as much water as we would if it was warmer. So fingers crossed 12 L will be enough for the next 42 miles.
After lunch we continued on a most stunning trail. While the pine forest was burnt, the riot of colourful ground -cover flowers was jaw dropingly beautiful. I stopped so many times as I just could not help trying to capture the exquisite beauty of the afternoon. The trail was on a gently undulationg terrain with a slight descent. We hiked for a bit after lunch with another guy, Amoeba a newsroom TV producer from Vegas. He stoped to take a break and we lost touch with him by mid-afternoon. Leaving the pine forest we started to encounter Joshua trees and very little other significant tree cover.
Although hiking was still amazingly easy the wind did start getting up a little. But still not anywhere near the strength we had blasting us for the past two days. And just as we were about to hit the last ascent near Kelso Rd we found some trail magic, a cooler with icy cold Pepsi. A cold Pepsi really hit the spot, our perfect day just got even better. A few miles into the trail from the road we met Nancy, the lovely trail angel who provided the cold drinks. It was so nice to be able to meet her and thank her in person. Ironlady gave her a hug in appreciation of her goodwill towards hikers.
From Butterbrodt Rd the trail continued to ascend and we were on the hunt for a reasonable camp spot. We were heading up on a side of a mountain with no significant vegetation cover except for the Joshua trees and there was a wind following us. A flat and protected camp spot was not going to be easy to find. Took us a few miles hiking before we found a spot that was reasonable. We stopped here for the day even though we felt we could have hiked on. Did not want to jinx our perfect day. I would rate today in the top 3 days so far on the PCT.