21.6 miles (Miles 1050.5 – 1072.1)
Ebbets Pass – PCT mile 1072.1
We hiked a lot today, but we also took some long breaks, and they were all fun and very much worth it.
The morning started out pretty typical. We hiked for a couple of hours before stopping for a snack and water-fill-up break. The sun got pretty hot and the creek we were at had limited shade, so we moved on quickly. This ended up being our shortest break of the day. After that we climbed out of a forest of tall pines to a very open area with no trees at all, rolling hills and a rocky surface spotted with sage bushes, lamb’s ears and a whole variety of wildflowers. Depending on what side of the hills we were on, we got some pretty major wind gusts, too.
The terrain we’ve been in for the past couple of days has been really rocky. I wish I knew more about how these rocks got here, how old they are and what their stories are. There are so many different kinds. The small ones that lay in our trail almost always match the surrounding boulders or giant conglomerate we’re hiking around. Earlier today they were large, smooth, white boulders. Later this afternoon we looped around a bunch of peaks of scraggly rocks that looked like we were on top of one giant pile of smaller rocks placed there by some sort of other-worldly gigantic machinery and all glued together solid and strong. These rocks and boulders are all different colors, too. I really enjoy the green, purple and orange the best, I think. They’re all pretty…
Our first long break was lunch. We just felt like sitting around and enjoying the shade… and sitting. Delaware Dave was there too, so we had good company. Tears and I made a really yummy burrito meal we found in a hiker box. It was nice to have something so different for lunch. We finally got moving again after about an hour and a half.
Our second long break was an unexpected afternoon stop. Tears needed to empty a rock out of her shoe and get some water, so we stopped right after crossing Blue Lakes Road. Delaware Dave stopped with us and shared some beef jerky, and then a lady hollered from the road, “you guys need anything? Water? Chips?” Dave and I looked at each other and smiled, then started walking towards her. She introduced herself as Tish and gave us cold Izze drinks, bbq kettle chips and brownies! She followed us back over to where we were resting in the shade and told us that she was there to meet up with a hiker named Josh who was out to set a PCT speed record. He plans to finish in 62 days. Thats TWO months! Scott Williamson holds the current record at, I believe, 66 days. We planned for five months, or 150 days for a little perspective… Josh did the high Sierras in four days. It takes most hikers between 11 and 15! He hikes and doesn’t run… he just goes from 5am to 10pm every day, and is planning to take no zero days. None! It’s impressive to say the least! Crazy… but I like it!
We stuck around until Josh showed up so we could meet him. What a great guy. I was really glad we stayed to talk with him a bit. He shared with us how mentally challenging it has been hiking 40+ miles each day. He said sometimes he’ll hike by people setting up camp and having a little campfire and just wished he had time to stop for a bit. I can’t imagine how tough that must be. But I suppose when you get a goal like that stuck in your head you just have to keep truckin’! I wish him the best of luck!
A couple of other randoms from today:
The fire we’ve been watching to the north is just over the border in Nevada, so it won’t be affecting us at all. Whew. It’s still scary to see it each day, hoping the white plumes of smoke means it’s almost out… we were actually able to see the edge of it today, where it was burning down the hillside. Prayers go out to all those working on and affected that fire!
Another crazy thing that happened today was right before lunch. Tears and I were hiking along and all of a sudden we heard a loud “CRACK” just out in front of us and a little to our right, followed by a lot of breaking branches. A huge tree just fell! Very close to us, too. I’d just seen Dave not too long ago in front of us, so I started to run out of the fear that maybe he was nearby. I didn’t know if the tree fell on our trail or not… thankfully our trail veered to the left. My adrenaline was going so hard that I thought my heart was going to pound right out my chest! It took a while to come down from that. So… I think even if no one is around… trees do indeed make a lot of noise when they fall in the woods! Yikes!
Here’s an on-trail crazy thought chain from today: during one of our strange conversations while hiking, I said to Tears, “well, if you’re gonna’ have to eat a booger it would go best with peanut butter… you know, salty snd sweet.” Then I thought, “peanut butter jelly time… peanut butter jelly and a baseball bat… mmmm, I could really go for a banana… but not with a Sprite.”
Yeah, the craziest things go through my head while I’m cruising along. It can be quite interesting!
Tonight I love the wind. It’s been pleasant in the heat, chases mosquitoes away, and the strong gusts on ridges have been plain fun to lean into.