PCT Day 20: Trail Magic

I woke up late, not sure why. The girls got going first, and I was out by 9:50 AM. I felt pretty good today, like this might be the day my hiker feet and legs finally kicked in. One could only hope.

The trail started uphill, with a lot of windy ridge walking. There were tons of male day hikers out visiting The Nipple. Hmmm, a secret man club up there, perhaps?

One concerned older guy asked me if I was hiking alone.

I said no, just trying to keep up with my girls. He offered up a safety tip, suggesting that I stay in the line of sight with my hiking buddies. I smiled and said, tell them, waving my arm at the girls, wherever the heck they were. I thought it was cute that this guy was giving me hiking tips.

Packed up to go, last one out of camp as usual.
Packed up to go, last one out of camp this morning.
flowers and footprints, I wish I had better pictures of all the amazing blooms.
Flowers and footprints, I wish I had better pictures of all the amazing blooms.
I think we camped down in those trees last night.
Where we camped, down in those trees last night.

The trail turned down, going by Lost Lakes and up through some forest to a rocky mountaintop with panoramic Sierra views. Pausing for water, I recognized the nearby dirt road crossing as one I had driven the kids on many years ago on a camping trip with my friend Alyce from Apple.

It had been a hella scary route in a 2WD Dodge minivan.

At one point the rocks and ruts were so big, we had to get out and scout the path for fear of getting stuck or scraping boulders. The Hubby would have killed me if I’d damaged the car.

Toward the end, I remember it being a steep, one-lane crawl down a rocky mountain with a cliff off to the left. Oh, and some snow patches, too. I seriously thought we might die and was kind of freaking out, but Alyce coached me through it like a champ, and we all lived to die another day.

Looking south to where we walked from yesterday on the PCT.
Looking south to where we came from, traveling on the PCT.
Gorgeous craggy mountains in the distance.
Gorgeous craggy mountains in the distance.
Passing by The Nipple, a popular day hike.
Passing by The Nipple, a popular day hike.

I caught up with the girls around lunchtime. They were talking to some Korean guys they knew from the desert, who had flipped to go southbound to avoid the snow. I went past and sat down by a pond to eat lunch, do laundry and get water.

A guy named Yard Sale came by, so-named because he tends to open his pack and spread everything around. He sat down nearby for lunch and we chatted, nice guy.

Three ladies rode by on some incredibly beautiful Arabians, my favorite breed. What a fantastic day for trail ride. I envied them just a little.

Another amazing scenic view, there were so many of these today.
Another amazing scenic view, there were so many of these today.
PCT above Upper Blue Lakes, looking north.
PCT above Upper Blue Lakes, looking north.
Views to the northeast.
Views to the northeast with Lost Lakes on the left.

The girls passed by, and I followed later on a beautiful, high mountain, alpine section of trail. Creeks and wildflowers everywhere, glorious this season thanks to good snow, I was glad to be out here in July, perfect timing.

I wet my shoes and shirt in a creek before the next big, uphill climb, where we had to bushwhack a bit through some shrubs. So glad I did that, it made the heat bearable!

Catching up to the girls as they took a break in the bushes, somehow we got onto the topic of days on the trail, and I said it was my twentieth.

Squarepants calculated that it was day 84 for them, almost three months!

Fish Nugget was grappling with a big bout of anxiety. We talked for a bit, but then I went on, figuring she needed space apart.

On we go.
On we go.
Alpine amazingness.
Alpine amazingness.
My little lunch spot.
My little lunch spot.

We met a guy on the trail supporting his wife, Mighty Mouse. He was hiking out to meet her and her posse with food and treats.

I felt pretty strong today.

My feet didn’t feel that bad, though I did still fantasize about people throwing me a beer. It was kind of an obsession.

Powering down the hill after the girls, I tried to stay ahead of another day hiker who’d hiked in a sandwich to his PCT pal, and man, did it look good. I tried not to be jealous, a challenge, for sure.

Fish Nugget and Squarepants on the trail.
Fish Nugget and Squarepants on the trail.
The hills are alive!
The hills are alive!
It was getting hot out.
It was getting hot out.

We finally made it down to Highway 88, walked over to the trail info hut, and lo and behold, TRAIL MAGIC!!!

Volunteers who work there were handing out fruit, soda, chips, Twinkies and sandwich rolls, so awesome! And honestly, that ice cold Coca-cola was almost as good as a beer.

All the hiker guys who’d passed me were there with the girls. Squarepants had settled in at a table with them, trading stories.

Fish Nugget looked really upset sitting in the chair next to me, but I knew better than to press her about it. As moms do, I cleaned the dirt off her face with a Handiwipe, offered help and hoped that her anxiety passed soon.

I asked her if she wanted to quit the trail. She said, no.

Inside I bought some Reeses for me, breakfast bars for the girls and made a donation. Then one of the volunteers brought out homemade banana bread! OMG, these people were amazing. They just kept bringing stuff out.

They had a scale out front, so I stepped on. Holy Schmoly, only 122! Talk about happy days, I’d started this trip at 130, five pounds over my official fat weight.

Squarepants was only 120, down from 140, so happy days for her as well. Fish Nugget was only 80, down from 90 or 100, she couldn’t remember. That’s like borderline needing a car seat. I told her she should eat more.

More snow! When will it finally stop?
More snow! When will it finally stop?
Coming down toward Carson Pass with Caples Lake in the distance.
Coming down toward Carson Pass with Caples Lake in the distance.
Fish Nugget and Squarepants chillin at Carson Pass.
Fish Nugget and Squarepants chillin at Carson Pass.

We stayed about an hour enjoying real chairs, good company, great snacks and water from an actual faucet before moving on. We crossed the highway, found the trail and started hiking uphill.

Fish Nugget lagged behind.

She said her head was hurting her and that she wanted to camp early. She found a spot in the last bit of forest before an extended, exposed climb, but there wasn’t room for all three of us.

I said not to worry about it, that I’d go on to camp at mile 1078 and meet up with them tomorrow morning. I felt ready to camp alone if I had to, so I said goodbye to the girls and motored up the hill, buzzed on Coke.

Mighty Mouse and crew in front of the trail info hut.
Mighty Mouse and crew in front of the trail info hut.
The Coke that kept me going.
The Coke that kept me going.
Trail through the baby aspens, just north of Highway 88.
Trail through the baby aspens, just north of Highway 88.

I was surprised to see Squarepants catch up to me near the top. She said Fish Nugget wanted to be alone, so the two of us continued down into a gorgeous, verdant valley, stopping to camp by a stream after 12.3 miles for the day, my biggest yet.

We had a great conversation all the way down.

Caffeine coursing through my veins, I talked a-mile-a-minute dispensing valuable mom advice (at least I thought so) about not being afraid of taking the initiative or doing the wrong thing or asking older people for help in life.

I think when we older folks get to a certain age, we sincerely want to help the younger generation succeed because we remember how hard it was just starting out and all the dumb mistakes we made. If someone can learn something valuable from the stupid stuff I’ve done, it adds meaning and dulls the pain of my prior stupidity.

Pond at the top of the hill.
Pond at the top of the hill.
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Squarepants on the trail in the distance.
Squarepants on the trail in the distance.
Coming up to this evening’s campsite on the right.

The mosquitoes were out in full force as we set up camp, though somehow I managed to wash my feet and legs in the stream without getting too many bites. I ate my rehydrated bag of food pacing about the camp in pants, headnet and rain jacket.

It had been a fabulous day. Trail Magic Coke had powered me that last bit, and my feet didn’t hurt as much as usual. Or maybe I was just getting used to the pain.

Though I felt ready to camp alone for the first time, I was sooooo glad I didn’t have to. I enjoyed getting to know Squarepants better as we trekked down the hill.

I just hoped my little Fish Nugget was okay.

30 Days on the PCT
Day 20: July 22, mile 1079
Squarepants doing something, I forgot what.
Squarepants doing something, I forgot what, getting close to camp.
Legs before washing. Sexy, right?
Legs before washing. Sexy, right?
Our camp for the night.
My room with a view.