5/9/17 24 miles PCT 436.0
We have been given no useable trail names yet. One was tequila and lime. Lime due to my sunglasses and I’m not sure why tequila. The other was Grand and Canyon because of our upcoming trip. Neither really worked as individual names. We decided if we were not given new names by 500 miles, we would name eachother. We settled on Badger and Donkey. See if you can guess which is which!
I woke up to Sarah reaching her hand up to open the valve on my airmat. As air was hissing out she said. “It’s almost 630!” My IPhone displayed 610. Sarah has instituted a morning race to get packed up. I am an unwilling participant and perennial loser in this endeavor. Sarah frantically began stuffing her sleeping bag into its sack while simultaneously balancing the sawyer filter into one of her water bottles. “See” she said “I don’t just pack I filter water at the same time. “Good job honey” I said slowly buttoning my shirt. I packed up most of my things and walked over to a nearby log to turn my toe socks rightside out and made sure each toe was completely stretched tight so I would get no blisters. I then noticed I had actually turned them inside out. I fastidiously repeated the whole process then put on my outer socks and slipped them through my gators into my shoes and adjusted the laces. “Wow” she remarked, quickly stuffing her sack. “Ten minutes of sock time?!!” In her other hand she was eating a breakfast bar. “See this? I’m eating while I pack,” she remarked. “Good work” I said. She left to “use the restroom”. Her pack was ready to go. I took down the tent and folded up the ground cover, realizing I too would have to dig a cathole. This I knew, would cause problems. I struggled to find ground that wasn’t too rocky to dig into and searched for some large rocks to make a makeshift toilet. Before I could finish she was already concerned. What is taking so long?” She inquired. ” Some privacy please.” I responded, adjusting the rocks to make a good seat. When I returned at 750 she was adjusting the straps of her pack. “It’s almost 830″ she said ” I have to go. It’s just taking too long.” “Ok see you when I see you” I replied. “Don’t get all butt hurt.” She shouted as she turned and strode out of sight. “I’ll start out slow, you’ll catch me in 5 minutes.”
After one hour and 45 minutes of hiking as quick as I could, I caught her six miles down the trail at a fire station where she was forced to stop in order to refill her water bottles. I shook my head a little when I saw her standing next to her pack loudly smacking on an apple. “Don’t get all mad, let me explain.” She said ” I ran into Zippy [a woman who got her name due to her fast pace who completed the PCT a couple of years ago] and she was talking with me so I had to hike with her. Also I knew you would be right behind us and you were only behind us by five minutes.” This was her way of saying I’m sorry.
As we climbed back into the mountains she made a sudden unilateral announcement. “No more zeros, we are in the business of making miles!” The hot miserable days of 10,000 foot elevation gains and 20 milers and blisters were to be the good old days. I guess I should have appreciated them more. There would be no rest now. We made our way through some of the ugliest terrain the PCT had to offer. Most of it was recently burned everything that wasn’t charred was out to poison your skin. One of these that was particularly thick was poodle dog bush: a shit plant if there ever was one. It stinks like a skunk and will give you a rash similar to but more intense and less easily treatable than poison oak. It has sent hikers to the hospital. Also there was a bit of poison oak thrown in for good measure. We took turn shouting “Poodle dog on your right!” In order to avoid brushing up against it and derailing our trip for several days. At one point Sarah’s backpack straps brushed up against a poodle dog bush. It was about to make contact with a microfiber towel on the back of her pack. Her pee rag. I told her that her straps had brushed up against the poison plant and that she could end up with the worst sort of painful rash if she didn’t stop. She begrudgingly abliged. A little ways down the road, nature called. She was walking behind me. “I’m going to stop to pee” I said. I took a few more steps and stopped. “Jesus, you have to stop in the middle of the trail?!” She bemoaned, brushing by me. ” You think this is some kind of great show your putting on here? Believe me it isn’t .” She informed me, rounding the corner directly into a patch of poison oak. I suggested that, when we got to camp, it would be best to keep our packs outside the tent as they may be contaminated and be sure to wash really well to remove any poison oil that might be on our skin. “Oh look it’s me captain saftey” she said doing her best impression of my nasally voice. I trailed a bit behind serpintining through all the rash causing foliage. I rounded the corner to see Sarah stopped in the middle of the trail pointing back towards me with her trekking pole. “Spider” she said. It was ten feet in front of me, black, the size of a small person’s fist. A tarantula. I am petrified of large spiders. At home I would force Sarah to take them outside while I carried on like a child. It was not moving. I paced about trying to build up courage. Sarah slowly reached into her pocket to grab her phone and began recording. Being filmed helped as my social anxiety trumped by spider anxiety. I attempted to play it cool. I was anything but cool, but I managed to make my way around it with minimal theatrics, from my point of view. We swerved our way around poisonous plants for another few miles to camp as some cold fog descended. Tomorrow we would be in Hiker Heaven.