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City: Grand Rapids
Begins: May 8, 2017
Date: Mon, May 15th, 2017
Start: Mike's Place at mile 127.3
End: Campsite at Mile 147
Daily Distance: 20
Trip Distance: 123.5
Entry Visits: 564
Journal Visits: 17,149
Guestbook Views: 383
Guestbook Entrys: 36
A Cold Windy Day in the Desert
Without much to pack up except for the stove and food, we got going early, starting it at 7:50am. It was cloudy, windy, and quite cold, so I was bundled up in my rain gear, layering it over my hiking clothes. For the first time in four days Peter and I were hiking together. Leaving Mike's Place, the first goal was a three mile climb to get over the mountain pass and out of the cold valley. I was anxious to get moving to generate some body heat.
I charged up the trail and it wasn't long before I started to remove layers. About every eighth of a mile I was unzipping or removing outerwear. By the time I got over the ridge the sun had broken through and I was down to the normal shorts, shirt, and hat. On the way up there were beautiful views of distant mountains to the east layered in with the grey clouds. I am always filled with anticipation when approaching the crest a high mountain pass, seeing the unveiling of new valleys, rocks, streams, trees, and especially, the distant range of mountain peaks. I stand in awe looking in every direction, then some more with my binoculars, for detail, and searching to see where the trail will lead.
Since I was little I have always loved looking through binoculars at things in the distance, and I always hike with them now. Other hikers see them hanging on my neck and question if I am using them much, surprised that I would want to carry them for an entire thru-hike. My answer is always YES... and they are worth their weight!
Now the trail descended down a loose sandy path for a good long stretch of many miles, lasting for about 3 hours. Hiking downhill like this is easy and relaxing. You are giving back all of the elevation that you had earned previously. When you hike uphill you are making an investment, and when you are hiking level or downhill you are enjoying the dividends of that investment.
The sun was out and provided nice warmth in protected areas, but the cool breeze continued to chill in exposed sections of the trail. The next available water was a small spring off trail, about 10 miles into the day's hike. I had looked at the PCT water report before we left and decided to fill up at Mike's Place, carrying about 6 liters to get me to a more reliable water source at 16 miles. When we got to the junction for the spring, I stopped for lunch behind a big rock in the sun and out of the wind. Peter needed more water, so he left his pack next to mine and hiked the quarter mile down a steep trail with his filter and containers to the spring. I had another peanut butter and pretzel lunch, and mixed up an electrolyte powdered drink in one of my bottles for a flavorful refreshment. I was finished by the time Peter returned with his water, so I took off while he stayed for his lunch break.
The trail continued over rolling terrain for several miles, never very steep ups or downs. I made good time in the cool temperature and didn't need to drink much water. I finally felt warm hiking through a long canyon, protected from the wind. Just before the trail started climbing up another ridge I found a large flat rock under a large tree and laid down for a little nap. Peter came along in about 30 minutes and we made the moderate climb onward. At about mile 15 we crossed a dirt road and came upon an unexpected water cache. I refilled a couple of my bottles and was set for the remainder of the day. It was about 4pm and we both were motivated to go about 5 or 6 more miles to get over a big south facing ridge, exposed directly to the now very cold wind. We had enough of that last night. Climbing and climbing, the clouds were darkening but it never rained. We finally were on the top where it leveled off, but it was still exposed to the elements. We had no choice but to keep hiking, but before we did, I put all of my warm layers back on. I have learned the hard way that you have to be proactive to stay warm. If you don't retain some heat while still hiking at the end of the day, and allow yourself to get too cold, it's very difficult to get warmed up again in camp. Finally the trail started to descend into the valley away from the wind, and at 7pm we found a flat, inside cove with adequate space for two tents. I got set up quickly, boiled some water for my dinner, ate, brushed my shivering teeth, and tucked myself in my warm sleeping bag with warm merino wool hat and gloves... asleep by 8:15.
BassBoneBob On The PCT
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