I woke up a 5am to a cold and windy morning. I lay there quietly for about an hour waiting for Josh to wake and wondering what I could eat that didn't have a loud, crinkly wrapper. I was not excited at the prospect of leaving my sleeping bag, or the tent for that matter, in the strong winds. Josh woke at 6 and gave me a sweet smile which let me know he was feeling better. We reluctantly dressed, broke camp and nearly lost the tyvek ground sheet to the wind. I went to use the bathroom and noticed a stray backpack near the door, I tried the handle gently and the door opened to reveal Twinkle Toes and Sheriff Woody shivering inside. I bid them an awkward good morning and Twinkle Toes told me they had spent the night in there to get out of the cold. I left them to their shelter and used a different bathroom before heading back to our site. Josh had found us a sheltered alcove next to the visitors center bathroom and we tossed all our stuff in there. We made coffee, ate breakfast and arranged our gear and water for the day and left the little alcove around 7:30 when the sun finally came over the mountain.
The wind reminded me of ocean currents, some came in like a wave and then receded like a rip tide while others were sustained but above our heads. We hiked in our jackets with hoods tied down tight and I wore my buff headband over my face. After a couple miles we rounded a bend and stopped dead in our tracks...it was still, no wind. We breathed a sigh of relief and took a moment to enjoy the peace before heading on down, down, down, to Hwy 2.
When we arrived we found a spot next to the bathroom that was in the sun and sheltered from the wind. There we met Bam Bam and his super adorable hound dog Huckleberry. Oh, my goodness, I love Huckleberry. He was wearing little hiking socks and trotted around awkwardly stopping to lay in my lap and let me love on him. It reaffirmed how much I miss my cats and pets in general. You don't realize what a huge impact pets have on your life until they're gone. After Huckleberry and his dad left, Josh and I ate summer sausage and Romano cheese on a bagel. Far Out, Shamrock and Home Girl arrived and ate as well before our big ascent up Baden Powell.
We packed up and started up the first long switchback and I was feeling pretty good. Up the second...breathing harder, third...I want to sit down. After that, I literally stopped at the end of EVERY SINGLE SWITCHBACK for the entire way up. It was pretty bad. They were short stops, but stops none the less and the higher we went the less I could breath. As I was dying about 5 switchbacks from the top a couple of hikers we had not yet met named Not A Chance and Jerusalem Cruiser passed us and said, "hey, you're Josh and Mandie right?!
Whaaaaa? Yes, we are!
They told us they read our blog and we chatted briefly before they flew up the trail. Then, about 3 switchbacks to the top a familiar face heads up, Carrot Quinn! Carrot wrote a fantastic blog about her thru hike last year and is an amazing writer. I was hoping to meet her on the trail, and here she is!
Josh says, "is that THE Carrot Quinn?"
"Yes, hi, it's freezing hot up here!" she responds, "you're Mandie and Josh, right? I was wondering when I would meet you guys"
My jaw must have hit the floor. Carrot Quinn knows who we are?! All these people know who we are! She goes on to say she has read our blog and that we are doing really well! Well, color me happy! That's a great motivator! Carrot bid us good day and flew up the trail passed us, probably never to be seen again.
At last I finished the switchbacks and walked along the ridge like toward the summit. There, we dropped our packs by a 1500 year old tree and set out to slack our way to the summit. It was the most bizarre feeling to walk without my heavy pack. It was akin to walking on hallucinogens, seriously! My legs hit the ground oddly and shoulders bounced up and down in an awkward way, it was as if I was walking an inch above the ground. I still huffed and puffed my way up, albeit lighter. At one point I told Josh I couldn't do it. He just shook his head like, "shut the hell up and get up here" and so I did, and then there I was. AT THE TOP!! There was a white register box, a concrete pilar dedicating the mountain to Baden Powell (who was the founder of the Boy Scouts) a fellow hiker (who's name I've suddenly forgotten) and a whole lot of freezing wind. We ran around quickly taking pictures, signing the register and the fellow hiker took our photo and we took his before retreating to our backpacks and a less exposed part of the mountain.
We put on our packs and headed down the trail and I was feeling pretty wiped out. Josh found another magical spot that had no wind and we sat down for a short break to try to get some food in our bellies. After a handful of yogurt peanuts and some almonds we were off again. The trail dropped and then climbed only to drop and then climb again for several miles and with each step my physical battery was draining. We arrived at an old burn area and suddenly had to start jumping, crossing and bush whacking around blow downs. Jeeze this is an athletic portion of trail! Finally I told Josh I had to have a proper sit down or there would be no more hiking. He laughed and we sat on my sleeping pad next to the trail. I tried my best to eat as much as I could even though I was passed the point of hungry and bordering on nauseous. After I'd eaten all that I could stomach at that moment which wasn't much I put my head in Josh's lap and he pet my hair for a while. I was waiting for the food to enter my blood stream and give me a boost of energy while I lay there bonked out and eventually it did.
We hiked quickly down, down, down and arrived at Little Jimmy Spring which was our water source. We chatted with Bam Bam and Huckleberry about the up coming detour while we filtered water. Eventually Bam Bam headed back to the trail but you could see Huckleberry was really tired. He struggled to climb up the hill with shaking legs and looked like he really needed to be done for the day. I really hope that they didn't hike much further.
Josh and I however, while we could have and probably should have hiked further, we only put in .3 more miles to Little Jimmy Trail Camp. The area was packed with today's hikers and Josh and I proceeded to the back where it was less crowded. We pitched on a bed of pine needles and proceeded to make a long overdue dinner at a picnic table. While we ate Far Out walked over to us and teased us for being loners. He joined us for the duration of the evening and we talked about the trail and our old lives in the real world before I was so cold I couldn't stand it. I had to retreat to my sleeping bag and we said our goodnights.
Right now, it's 9pm and Josh and I are cuddling to stay warm. The only thing I like about cold nights is the cuddling!! Tomorrow we will hike the old version Endangered Species Route which is shorter than the new version. The actual PCT is closed to protect some kind of yellow toed frog or something like that, meaning we have some road walking to do. We will also make the 400 mile mark and that makes me happy! We will try our very best to push our mileage the next couple of days for no other reason than were going to run out of food if we don't! Today was a challenge but I am very proud of us and very happy to mark Baden Powell off my peak list. Today was a good day!
Until tomorrow! Goodnight!