PCT Desert Day 7: One Hundred!

Mile 96.53 to 109.51 — Today’s miles: 12.98

My earplugs work so well that I sleep soundly even as the wind crashes through again and again. At 2am I wake with the feeling that something’s not right. My tent has partially collapsed, the front pole sliding along the ground so it tips halfway down even though the stake and guyline are still in place. I get out and fix it, briefly mesmerized by the sea of stars above me. Back in my bag, I have some water and look at the tent pole, realizing that I haven’t fixed it properly. I get out and redo it. This lasts until morning.

I’m out of camp at 6:30 — every morning I think, “I need to get up earlier.” I will have to when we get to the Mojave. It’s hard to wake before 5:30am though. My right Achilles feels off this morning and it takes at least a mile of slowish hiking before it’s warmed up. In a few more miles I hit the 100 mile point. Previous hikers have arranged stones as a marker, and I try out my new hiking pole selfie gadget. One hundred miles! Another mile of mostly downhill finds me among big shady trees, and then at Barrel Springs, a wonderfully refreshing water source. I break here for second breakfast and air my feet.

Much of today is a hike through vast meadows. There is little shade, but it’s very pretty, fairly easy walking, and sometimes there’s a nice breeze. My feet begin to ache — damn these blisters. I arrive at Eagle Rock to find a mother-daughter pair, Claire and Hannah, who immediately offer to take my photo. I rest under my umbrella and we chat — we are amazed to find that they lived for a long time in the very town I live in now! Hannah graduated from the university I teach at! It’s a delight to chat with them.

Now it’s only 3.25 miles to Warner Springs. I do the first half of that with gusto, but then crash hard. My feet feel terrible, and I’m limping and pep-talking my way through the last mile. Feet, why can’t you get it together?

I arrive at the Community Resource Center, which is set up to assist hikers for a small donation. I take a bucket shower that feels incredible, and then hand-wash my clothes in the bucket, tucking them into the chainlink fence to dry. I drink a soda and charge my phone. I snag a ride to the post office with three other hikers to pick up my resupply, but when we come back to the parking lot our ride has left. We don’t want to walk a mile with our heavy boxes, and manage to charm our way into a ride from a man who recently moved here — he has been giving rides to hikers all week and seems delighted by our trail stories.

I see Claire and Hannah again, and Lionheart, and finally meet up with Vanessa, whose blog I’ve been following — it’s awesome to chat with her briefly, hurrah for queer trail fam! She takes off for some late afternoon miles but I hope to catch up with her again tomorrow.

I call Cyn and we talk for an hour and a half. It is amazing to hear her voice even if I’m distracted by all the commotion here at the community center. I sort my resupply — I packed too much! — and give some extra food to Campo. I cold-soak ramen noodles for the first time and they taste amazing. My tent is pitched along with about 30 others in the community center’s back yard. It’s almost 9pm (hiker midnight) and folks are up talking and laughing. I think some are planning to zero here tomorrow. I hope to be up and out early, if my feet are feeling okay. Next stop, Idyllwild.

In the morning I hike through tall grasses that remind me of the Midwest.


Cold water flowing under big trees at Barrel Springs — a welcome sight after so much dry landscape.

Most of the day looks like this.

At Eagle Rock!

With Hannah and Claire.

Poppies being their cheery selves in the dry desert.

Clothes drying at the community center.

You fill a bucket with water and take it into the “shower stall” with a pitcher. Much, much more awesome than it may sound.

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