Thursday April 28th, 2016, PCT Day 35, Mile 534.9 at 8:46pm, I am in my tent guarded from the ferocious wind by a small sage bush. It’s actually amazing how safe the sage keeps me, my protector. On every side of me there are giant wind Turbines, and nearby a concrete bridge, a water faucet pouring water from the Los Angeles Aquaduct, and four other hikers tucked in various pockets of bushes in this sand wash called Cottonwood Creek. There is no creek except for the creeking of the wind turbines, whoosh, whoosh.
Wildfire and I hiked together yesterday and it was truly a glorious day that began with getting a ride to the trail from Casa De Luna by a nice local woman who raises lamas. We hiked aout 20 miles and enjoyed the lush greenery of grasses and fields of miner’s lettuce…
We found a swatch of Red Tail Hawk feathers right on the trail, and we left an offering of M & M’s and chocolate in exchange for a feather…
We collected water from a “guzzler”, which I never knew what a guzzler was until yesterday. It is a structure that is designed to collect rain water and hold it. I would presume it would serve the purpose of helping put out a fire, but it also serves the purpose of providing fresh, clean water for thirsty hikers. It looked sketchy and funky at first glance, but then I climbed under the aluminum roof that stood about 3 feet tall, and in the back was a circular lid that you could lift off just enough to dip your bottle of water in and fill it up. It was dark reaching in there, and I had read reports of hikers finding dead rodents in places like these, so I was hesitant at best. Sure enough, the water was pure, lovely, rain water. Delicious! (yes, I treated it anyway)…
Soon after that we hit the 500 mile marker and ever since I have been singing that song: “And I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more”…daah dah dut dah….
We hiked downhill during a lovely sunset and reached our destination at mile 511 by about 8:00pm. Just as we sealed ourselves in our tents for the night, pattering of rain started to tap, tap, tap and then some good showers, and we fell asleep to that steady, soothig sound, waking up to this.
We had said we would be ready to hit the trail by 7:30am, which Wildfire was and I was just close behind, when suddenly from out of nowhere, MP3 and Adventure Chicken came around the corner, singing, smiling and carrying bags of Oranges, Apples, Bannanas, Bread and fresh salad! We jumped for joy not only to have the provisions of fresh fruit but to see our friends!
Let the Magic commence! It was great to reunite and hear their stories about their adventures in LA, two young men from Europe on a tour for one day. Good times had by all!
Wildfire and I hit the trail by 8:00am, which is now my new “early” record so far, and we flowed nicely through the hills for 7 miles over to the next Trail Angel stop, Hiker Town, where our friend Denise (Camel Back) was waiting for days (I think like 5) for me to catch up so we could hike together!
We hustled out of the wind and into the common room at Hiker Town, what a great place! We re-united with several other hikers, made a great lunch and hot coffee (my lunch was actually a late breakfast of 10 grain cereal with butter powder, nuts, goji berries, cinnamon, sea salt, coconut oil and fake maple syrup, followed by two tortillas with cream cheese and salt & pepper). Awesome food combinations been goin’ on, I tell ya!
After a hearty meal and filling up on enough water, the three of us ladies set off into the dessert, Wildfire, Camel Back and Me. Within just a couple of miles we were at the Los Angeles Aquaduct.
We walked right on top of the giant, crusty, corroded pipe where piles of dirt and sand sat in sections, and large pointed bolts held it together in others. It was getting a bit windy up there, but how often do you ever get to walk for miles in a straight line above “the” pipe that sends millions of gallons of water to LA?
Continuing ahead, we neared closer to our goal of mile 534.9 where we knew there would be a place to camp and water, and making it a total of 24 miles for the day. The hike today was a series of long, flat, straight lines through the windy dessert, as the clouds blew in front of the sun and away again, casting alternating shadows on us all day. It was such great light, fading in and out, in and out. This was a view on the way down the hill this morning, into the flatlands.
It is very different walking on flat, straight ground. There are no points of demarcation for you to guage your progress. Usually, I can choose a point and make small goals throughout the day, like a stream crossing, a high point, a trail junction and the like. Out here, there was none of that. Our notes from Half Mile’s maps said not a thing for a territory of trail covering 17 miles.
We stopped at 3:00 and had a snack. This time I ate some Inka Chips (plaintain spiced chips), some nuts, a piece of baby bel cheese, an orange, and a Coffee-Chocolate Chia bar. Again, great food combinations, it’s a fact of trail life that on a daily basis, you have quite a bit of gas. After this rest break, I felt stiff, knees sore, hips sore, and a little post-meal fatigue. I pushed on as best I could, as I knew we still had 4 more hours to go before camp. Thanks to my companions, we had fun taking turns talking, then singing, then silence would wash over and we would walk at distances from one another, each finding our own rhythm.
At a certain point later in the afternoon, the wind had picked up considerably, and we were getting closer and closer to the giant turbines. I started closing my eyes to keep sand from blowing in, and as my body was hurting, I began to take long deep meditative breaths. Immediately I could feel the effects of the breathing calming my nerves, and settling the pain receptors. I was squinting into the sun, and facing right into the wind. I went into a trance-like state whereby my body kept a steady pace and I suddenly no longer felt the pain. I was breathing into my pain, opening up the channels of energy all over my body, and at the same time, feeling like I was in a dream. It was actually dream-like, walking head-strong into the 30 mph wind, facing right into the sun, walking with eyes closed or just barely open, head down, steady rhythmic foot steps and bereathing in, breathing out, as the wind turbines cycled round and round and round, like a heart beat…
We pushed and pushed against the wind, I let my backpack loosen and I spread out my arms, allowing the wind to penetrate me, like my entire body was made of tiny holes and the wind was rushing right through all of them. Wildfire and I shared moments within moments where we stopped and acknowledged how lucky we were to be doing exactly what we were doing, how fleeting these moments are, how memorable, awesome and powerful this force of Mother Nature, the Wind, blowing us around, tossing us, yet allwowing us to experience her and be humbled by her. The three of us reached our camp by 7:00pm, and we took a moment to face each other, clasp our hands and say “Thank You” for an amazing day.