|Clean and fresh at the start!|
|Burned landscapes abound|
|Trail cut from the hillside|
|Cowboy camping in style!|
Unfortunately I missed a turn coming out of the campground and got lost for an hour. Six miles later began a 14 mile climb that I would finish the next morning. The temperatures rose to over 90 degrees and with no shade on the trail I made due with my hiking umbrella when the wind died down. Eventually I camped in a canyon and nursed my blisters. The next day I limped 5 miles into Mount Laguna, a small town, to take care of blisters and get a larger pair of shoes. I went from a size 11.5 to a size 13! The outfitter in town was amazing, he stocked more lightweight gear into that tiny store than you can imagine.
After my short day in town I did an easy 13 miles that ended in the windiest conditions I have ever experienced. I reached the remote campsite called out on my map only to find all the flat spots completely exposed to 60 mph winds and light rain. Three section hikers behind me looked ahead and found sheltered sites another 200 yards down trail so I laid low with them through intense wind and rain. My tent had a light drip in two spots but otherwise I was warm and dry in my down bag, unlike one of the section hikers who woke up in a puddle. The next morning was almost as wet and windy as the night but in fits and starts.
|Vast overlooks are everywhere along the trail, this one just after Pioneer Mall picnic area.|
I stopped after 12 miles to let my blisters dry out rather than continue on soaked feet. The next morning I woke a few minutes after 5 am, felt motivated and after a cold breakfast of granola and rehydrated milk was on trial by 6:15. By 9:15 I had made 9 miles to a water cache under a highway at Scissors Crossing.
|Look closely and you can see the trail wind its way up that ridge|
|Mountains upon mountains!|
Yesterday I was motivated by a community center in Warner Springs offering burgers and showers and
managed to push out 18 more miles. I passed a mile marker at mile 100 and felt like a million bucks! My longest backpacking trip was 28 miles before this trip and I just did 100!
My IT band on my left knee was hurting, not severely but enough to make me stop often to stretch and massage it back into compliance. I spent last night camping out behind the community center after a burger, a shower and meeting more hikers. Overall there are many more other through hikers than I expected. I seem to meet several new people every day and run into half a dozen I've already met who I passed or are in the process of passing me. Everyone hikes their own pace and I enjoy hiking alone and socializing at water stops and camp sites. I seem to have an unusual hiking style of pushing for 2 hours without stopping, a quick five minute stretch break and another hour or two push before taking a longer break. I don't hike with poles so I can eat, drink and change layers all while continuing to walk. I hope my feet will toughen up after the rest day today and I can start doing longer days continuously. The next town is 69 miles and an unthinkable 10,000 feet of elevation gain away. I'm taking four days of food but hope to do it in less than that.
Well that's all for now, expect the next post in four days!