A note to my readers: you guys are amazing! I've received so many words of encouragement, some from people I don't even know and it is really inspiring. I have tried to reply to your comments on the blog, but for some reason they're not posting, but please know I see and appreciate all of your comments. I am sorry for the typos, it's official that auto correct hates me, I am doing my best to catch them!
I am only sending a few pictures with the blog posts but I I will post more on Flickr soon and you can see them by clicking on the slideshow in the side bar. Thank you all for your support and encouragement.
We stayed at the hotel until 11:30am eating, organizing and updating photos and blogs. When we finally left, we went to several stores to resupply and then hung out in front of the grocery store to wait for my friends Richard and Brita who were bringing me new shoes!!
Josh went into another store and while he was gone one of the AT hiker trash guys named Beeline showed up and took a seat next to me. He didn't recognize me and asked my name, and I told him Mandie. Shortly after Josh showed up and Beeline remembered us and asked why we weren't using the trail names they had given us. Josh was 'wildcat' and I was 'lioness' for the cat stencils we have on our gear. We told him we didn't identify with the names so we didn't take them.
The rest of Beelines group showed up shortly after and we listened to their conversation until Happy Feet, Pink Panther and the rest of the gang rolled in. They had made it to scissors crossing and were going to take a full zero in Julian. We chatted for a bit before leaving to meet up with Richard and Brita.
Richard and Brita have been friends of mine for 9+ years and are instrumental in my ability to do the trail and for my life as it is today. Richard is my boss and they have both been life mentors for me. I asked Brita to mail me some gear to Warner Springs and instead she brought it directly to me! New, larger shoes, toe socks, compression socks, blister stuff and Josh and I traded out our sleeping pads from the inflatable back to the mat. After we got the gear worked out we ate pie and talked for a bit before they drove us back to the trail head. It was wonderful to see them but it made me kind of home sick too.
Once at the Sunrise trail head we organized our stuff and I used some new skin Brita gave me and taped my feet. We left the trail head at 2:30. It was cool and breezy which helped the hiking and my feet felt better but not 100%. I don't know why I thought I'd be in tip top condition just by changing some gear when I have open sores under my toes, but I did and I was disappointed I wasn't flying down the trail.
We knocked out 4 miles or so and hit this dirt road. The dirt road from hell. It dropped us down, down, down into a canyon and then climbed us up, up, up to the trail. It was the most ridiculous route I've seen, so far, on the PCT. We took a break at the junction of stupid road and the trail and a man on a dirt bike pulled up to say hello and we talked briefly.
We resolved to only hike to the water tank at Rodriguez road instead of passed it as originally planned. We were both feeling very sore and tired. We stopped 2.5 miles shy of our destination to have dinner and we forced ourselves to continue even though where we were sitting looked like a good tent site to us!
We talked about how different this hike was from all out other hikes. We agreed that everything past PCT hikers said was true (shocking, I know), things like how we would not want to cook anymore or how we would want to eat dinner and then hike on after, etc. It's hard to take others word for it though, especially with something as unconventional as this. I'm not to proud to admit, I should have listened. I would not have mailed so many boxes. :-)
Back up and hiking my feet freakin' HURT! I was limping but busting ass to get to camp. Josh had an eerie feeling about the area and put me in the lead. I felt the vibe too but it felt like desert loneliness to me. That kind of evening where it's hazy and the wind is blowing, not so hard you're struggling in it, but more than a breeze. Just enough to shake up the atmosphere and make you uncomfortable, like you want to lay down and never get up. It felt like a Sunday night.
I kept a steady flow of intentional positive thoughts trying to make them louder than the negative ones and we saw headlamps in the distance. I started really trucking and winced with every step.
Finally in camp, there were several tents set up. We looked around a bit, lost, looking for a place to camp and the water when someone came up to offer direction. It was Bumble Bee and we were happy to see her! She showed us the water source, a well with a tap, and pointed us toward more secluded camping. We thanked her and headed up the road.
We found a small tent site and began to unpack. We laid out the tent, inserted the pole and I went to get a rock to hold the stakes down in the hard soil. I lifted the rock and was knocked back by the smell of human shit. Did I seriously just pick up a rock with shit on it? And not even animal shit, A HUMANS SHIT.
A HUMAN WHO HAS A FRONTAL CORTEX AND SHOULD KNOW BETTER THAN TO SHIT IN A TENT SITE AND COVER IT WITH A ROCK.
I commenced epic hand sanitizing and told Josh I could not camp here. We went up the road a bit and found a flat spot...covered in snake holes, then one covered in glass. I started to have a spaz out moment and we grabbed all our stuff and headed down the road with the other campers. As we were walking up a voice in the dark asks, "are you Josh and Mandie?" I say yes and she replies, "I'm Minda" Minda is another member of the PCT Facebook group and I told her it was nice to meet her and that I had just put my hand in human shit and was less than pleased. I bid her goodnight and Josh and I set up the tent.
It's 10:18pm now and Josh and I have settled in after our nightly routine. This was a hard day for me but I'm fighting to stay positive and looking forward to getting to Warner Springs in a day or so.