Monday, May 19, 2014

Under The Manzanita - Day 46 (5/17/2014)

Day 46
Mile 458.7 to mile 474.6
15.9 miles

Today was quite a day, I am exhausted.

We had planned on getting up early again this morning, although not as early as the morning before, but just couldn't do it. We were so tired from the day before that the snooze button was too inviting and we paid for it by hiking in the heat of the day. 

It was a great morning, the temperature was nice and cool, even with the sun up. From camp we immediately started climbing, a 1,500+ foot elevation gain over 4ish miles. It was a lovely way to start the day and it certainly got the muscles warmed up. 

As we were climbing the mountain we came across spots of natures air conditioning. When we would walk into a canyon and approach the deepest part, the apex if you will, we could feel the cold air rushing down the mountain. Because, ya know, cold air falls. It was wonderfully cool and it is where we would choose to take most of our breathers. 

When we reached the top of the mountain we were greeted by a snake that I almost stepped on. I'm not sure why I never see a snake until I am on top of it but that's what seems to happen. The snake was a new one for us, and the best way I can describe it is... It was worm shaped, meaning the head tapered and it had a thick body with a skinny tail. It was whiteish yellow with black bands around it. It also shook its tail similar to a rattler but this wasn't a rattler. I do have a picture. 

After that we headed down the other side of the mountain hitting a natural spring on the way down. As we were filling up our water bottles a couple of mountain bikers came along. Mountain bikers are not allowed on the PCT so Mandie stopped them and said something. They replied by saying that this part of the PCT was also part of a secondary trail where mountain bikers are allowed. We are not sure about this and will have to do some investigation to be sure. We let the air our of their car tires just in case we are right. I'm totally kidding. 

Once we were down the mountain we came across a water cache placed there by the Anderson's, another big-time Trail Angel. We didn't need any water but we did need some shade as it was starting to heat up. We sat there for a while talking with other hikers including two young hikers named Daryl and Dana (I think) who were very nice. They had backpacks the size of school backpacks so we picked their brains for a while on how they wittled their gear down so much. They were fun to talk with. 

It was now time to leave the the shade and head out into the heat. We would be heading up our second mountain for the day, this one a little shorter in elevation and mileage than the first one. As we hiked on it got hotter and hotter and there was absolutely no shade, both sides of the trail was lined with not so tall Manzanita bushes and other shrubs. That and it was noon so the sun was directly over us, casting no shadows. 

We pushed on and on until Mandie couldn't take it any more. We sat down along the side of the trail in the smallest bit of shade. I poured some of my water over her head and also onto a bandana to put around her neck to help cool her down. As she sat there trying to compose herself, I went up the trail a little bit to see if I could find us some more shade. There was nothing. I checked our PCT phone app to see if anything was coming up and there happened to be a tent site in three tenths of a mile. There was nothing promising shade but it was worth a shot so we headed off to it. 

When we got to the tent site there was pretty much nothing there except for a flat spot, some Creasote bush, and this one large Manzanita bush. The Manzanita bush was large enough to be casting a shadow on the ground and large enough for us to crawl under it and lay partially in its shade, so that's what we did. To create a little more shade we took out our tent's ground cloth, a Tyvek sheet, and weaved it through the branches of the bush. It helped some but not as much as we would have liked. 

We laid under this tree for about an hour not doing much of anything. As we laid there the day just got hotter and hotter. It eventually got to a point where a little bit of panic or anxiety started to set in. I so wanted to be in a cool place and drink something something cold and there was absolutely no place I could do that. Usually there is some place I could go to cool down but not now. It was a little freaky and I just had to calm myself down and redirect my thoughts. 

A couple of hikers walked passed us as we laid there and it gave us the inspiration we needed to get up and get out of there. The sun was moving and we were losing our shade. We put our clothes back on and packed up and headed up the hill again. We lucked out and a breeze picked up and really helped cool us down as we hiked. It was our saving grace. 

Once at the top we of course went back down the other side. This side of the mountain had some different vegetation on it and we actually had some sections of shade provided by Oak Trees. It made the descent so much more enjoyable. Three and a half miles later we would come across another bit of Trail Magic, also supplied by the Andersons. It was the Hikers Oasis Cache. In this little grove of Scrub Oak they had set up lawn chairs, a cooler filled with beer and soda, many 5-gal jugs of water and other little decorations to spiff up the place. We immediately dropped our packs and grabbed a couple of cold sodas from the cooler and grabbed a seat. I don't think I have ever drank a soda so fast in my life. I was so thirsty and all I had on me was really warm water which wasn't refreshing at all. Other hikers showed up as we sat there and we all enjoyed the shade and much needed beverages. 

Before leaving to find a dry place to camp we filled up all of our water bottles and bladders. The next place it looked like we could camp was 3.5 miles away. What was between the cache and our camp, another mountain to climb. This one wasn't as had as the first two but we were already so exhausted and done being out in the sun. There was nothing we could do about it so we pushed on, slowly. 

We are now camped with about 4 other hikers, the most we have had to camp with thus far. The spot we picked happens to be the access point to the other tent sites so everybody walks through our site when they come and go. Next time we will have to be cognizant of that and pick a better site.