Week 4 – SHE

Day 22. 10th May. Wednesday. 20 miles of us from 2995 feet – 8135 feet. Plus 1 mile to trail start. 
The day of the night of the full moon. Lots of people at the Best Western decided not to travel

Today due to it being cloudy and threatening rain. We decided to leave after a great breakfast which also supplied our lunch. (Waffle, bagels and cream cheese and bananas).

It was Partially cloudy as we walked and the cooler start was good as once again there was a lot of burn areas with no shelter to offer us.

We went Over and under the railway which had hooted all Night with mile long freight wagons every few minutes. Again we went up, up, up into The desert and the coniferous mountains

Eventually we were Even above the clouds which meant it got hot again.

We had started late due to having a proper bed, second shower and 4 course breakfast, thus at 9:30 we set off over the Interstate so of course we had a Late finish at 6:30 Pm. We had miscalculated our mileage and I kept wondering why I was so tired and why it was taking so long to find our chosen camping spot. When we got there there was only one other hiker, Speedy, a young lad averaging 20 to 24 miles per day!
As we tucked ourselves in our tent and the sun went down the temperature plummeted. Again with no threat of rain we slept only with the tent inner and watched the the Full moon appear apparently below our little dwelling on the high mountain side.

Sadly but not surprisingly our Tshirts (and us) were stinking despite being washed yesterday.
The smell and constant scumminess can get you down!!

Your only clean, non sweaty, not stinky for such a short period of time.
Wisdom, wit gobble-de-gook. ?
Day 23. 11th May. Thursday. Somewhere up the mountain to Wrightwood. Wrightwood to

South fork (Manzanita trail). 15 miles. 

The day of the nude gnome on the trail.

Wrightwood is a wonderful hiker friendly town. We enjoyed Free take away hotdogs

at the petrol station when Cory bought some New darn tough socks. There were Discount drinks at coffee shop and a Pct pin at the hardware store, Hiker box and free phone Charging . A wonderful Pct hiker friendly town, strangers wishing us a safe and happy hike!
First stop when you get to

Town? Big breakfast. Well not exactly. First stop is the toilet in the restaurant to wash the grime of yours hands.arms and face. And potentially have a poop if you’ve managed to hold it in for a proper toilet.

I didn’t have breakfast! I had tuna melt on wheat bread and sweet potato fries. I’ll have to start anticipating all the questions you get asked when ordering food. Wheat, rye or soda?

How do you like your eggs? Would you like cheese on top of that? Would you like fries, onion rings or sweet potato fries?! Anyway having navigated our order it was fabulous. Cory had his best breakfast so far. corned beef hash, hash browns, sour dough bread, 3 eggs over easy!

We Hitchhike out of Wrightwood and manage to get Jan Dobry Den (Czech) a lift too! Ex US pilot, lovely man, I offered him Some Karma Dollars but he refused.

We walked to the saddle and made the decision to bypass Baden Powell and it’s freezing snowy trails and walk the Manzanita Trail. It was even more DOWN.

I’d just sent an email to Helen saying how well feet were doing. I.e. No blisters !

I then had a Second eruption of blisters on my feet. It was absolute Agony. I had no idea how many, I just knew it was bad. I tried to compensate on the badly maintained trail with careful foot placement which put a strain on other parts of my feet. My Thank you Granny Rush Bunion was throbbing.

2 miles into the jungle, down trail, I did a double take. There, sat in a chair, in the middle of the woods was a fat nude white bearded elderly man!!! He tried to get us to stop and chat, what the heck!!!! 🙂
Then the eye gnats were out, we tried Smidge on my face, on my hat. No joy. I dug out my eye net and started walking like I was tending my bees!

On getting to camp and pulling of my shoes and peeling of the soaking (sweat) socks it was time to welcome First tears!

Tired and sore. Too much ‘down’ on the trail. My Feet are ground to a pulp.

15 miles.

Wisdom, wit, gobble-de-gook. What’s your advice on Baden-Powell. We asked at the Mountain Hardware store. “Everyone is by-passing it. It snowed again at the weekend and now there’s ice on top of the snow.”

The Nude Gnome. “Pct ers? Heading to Canada?” Do you know there’s a short cut?’ ‘No! ” yes. Take a car or train” ” do you have time to stop and chat for a while?” ” erm sorry no….”

“How do you want your eggs hunny”? Cory replies thinking he’s got it right ‘easy over’ !!! Hehe!

Day 24. 12th May. Friday. South fork campsite to beyond frog closure area. 

The day after the night (and morning) of first tears

I Performed surgery on my feet at the picnic bench beside our tent, only 1 compeed left so I cut it in half and used it on my webbed toe. I’m saving the other half! The Toe on my left foot has been talking to its twin on right foot who is now trying to go down the webbed toe route! I Used plasters and duct tape on the rest of my blisters and my Granny Rush Bunion.

I Got Coffee before we set off this morning (this never happens, usually up and walking by 6 and breakfast is after 2 hours of walking) so Cory must have been feeling sorry for me!

The tears were still there this morning despite my feet being 80% better. So I guess it’s a combination of still feeling sorry for myself, self doubt and Mental-Pause hormones!

The Trail up to Islip Saddle is also unmaintained. Lots of rock falls and I was very scared. 5 miles took us 3 hours. Cory would have done it himself in 2 hours but he was having to ‘guide’ me up The path, especially when there was a path washout!

When your hiking you are constantly looking at the placement of your feet. Your next step is so important. If I do look ahead it often looks so scary that I wish I hadn’t looked at all. What’s the point of me worrying about what’s coming up then when what’s coming up ‘right now’ is just as terrifying but arguably more important? The misplaced foot could lead to a tumble down 1000s of feet of near vertical scree or dusty soil.

The trail up to Islip involved lots of obstacles to get around, under and over as well as bits where the trail had simply disappeared. My legs were shaking after the first 1 and a half miles.

I nearly never look down. Even when on the PCT, I nearly never ever look down. My concentration is on the next step I’m taking, not the length or height of the drop to my left or right.

Burn areas are even worse. The blackened twisted skeletons of once magnificent trees for miles. Trails were there is no life, no wonderful roots of trees, bushes, flowers or cactus to hold the soil where it belongs. The trail and the whole area just turns to crumbling dust. The trail can be as little (or less than) 4 cm wide on a near vertical mountain side. Nope, I don’t look down, my full concentration is on the next step. And if there is not even a 4 cm wide ‘trail’ then I stop, catch my breath, slow down my hummingbird heartbeat which threatens to explode out my chest, concentrate and work out how I’m

Going to get from where I’m standing to where the trail ‘resumes’ 2,3 or 4 metres away.

Thank god for my Leki Trekking Poles. They have got me across terrain which I would still be frozen at now if I didn’t have them

They offer me extended lever support! Not to mention river crossings over ‘log’ bridges or simply helping pull me up the mountain side with 15kg on my back. They’ve steadied me

When I catch my breath in the scorching heat, at 8000 feet, sweat pouring off me and I’m panting so hard I can’t take a drink until my fluttering heart slows down and I can gulp down some water.
So we finally got to Islip saddle, had a late breakfast and then set off up the detour to avoid disturbing the endangered frog. On our printouts the elevations suggested a slight increase over the next 4.2 miles. Of course this is the PCT, the points mentioned on the print out are just reference points with their elevations. We didn’t realise we would be headed up and over another mountain just to reach the next ‘reference’ point. We were both shattered! Sweat pouring off us again. As also with the huge UP Came the huge

Down and the sore parts of my feet from yesterday’s down started to scream.

Next we are faced by miles of road walking because of the endangered frog. So we parked ourselves as the side of the highway which is notoriously impossible to hitchhike on. 1 minute later a car came, we bounced up and hallelujah they stopped. A lovely young college student took us along the road to avoid the road walk.
We put up the tent early, after a late lunch and my mangled feet have been resting ever since.

The tears are still just under the surface too and Sour Skittles couldn’t chase them away. Still only a 18 mile day planned for tomorrow!

Day. 25. 13th May. Saturday. Mile 401 to Mile 421 above Mill Creek Fire Station

The day of the throbbing Granny Rush. There was strange screeching in the night which woke me up. It wasn’t like any owl I’ve

Ever heard before but what else could it be? I listened as it got

Closer and I imagined it flying from

Tree to tree. When I checked with Cory in the morning he said he had heard something strange too but thought it had been A hiker making funny noises. But there was no one else Around us we had just set up camp in the woods under magnificent old trees. It was freezing too. So there is a new TCP rule. If sleeping at an elevation of 5000 Feet or over the sleeping bags should be zipped up Together. I was in a foetal position all night, wrapped up in my adidas duvet jacket, hood up, silk liner up to my nose and sleeping bag hiding my face. The wind just howled through the inner of the tent ( we didn’t have the outer up not anticipating a cold night with ghosts).
Day 26. Sunday 14th May. Mountain above Mill Creek fire station to KOA.

I was blown on my ‘bunk bed’ all night. I’ve got an amazing new ultra lite thermarest which is twice the height of Cory’s. We were camped at the top of the ridge. Then about 11pm the wild winds of the west started to howl and the tent side started to bow inwards blowing mr off my bunk bed thermarest and onto Cory’s.
He thought I was being loving all night!!! I was just blown of my bed and freezing all night.

I had to sit on the tent until

Cory removed the three poles in case I ended up being Dorothy and flying off to Kansas in our little Terranova tent!

We are now walking with a new crowd as we didn’t take a zero in Wrightwood which it seems most of our original group did. So it is all strange faces and cliques who look a bit puzzled at the new ‘scots’ Faces.
We were on a mission to get to KOA but I didn’t know if my ‘Granny Rush’ was up to a 23

Mile day. I’ve made a little ‘toe separator’ with two earplugs and some duct tape. After the first 10 miles, at lunchtime, I put it between my big toe and it may have helped a wee bit. The terrain was more Foot friendly too, more sandy track and not ‘all’ down. It was dry desert but the promised creek was flowing and the water at the ranger station was great too.

Wildlife has dried up. A lot less of everything! Walking there PCT is an entomologist’s dream, especially as you spend 95%of your time looking at your feet. But even the ant super highways have nearly disappeared, there are a lot less lizards and even the big black nettles are few and far between.

The one amazing constant are Ravens. We are constantly in the shadow of ravens, often silently flying over us as we go up and down the wriggly wiggly trail.
KOA (campground of America) was great, $15 which included the showers and a towel (no soap but the luxury of an unlimited time
Shower and a fluffy towel). A place to charge your phone and heat up there pizza we bought from them, we also inhaled two boxes of Lay crisps tubes ( imagine big boxes of pringles). We are bottomless pits!!!
Day 27. Monday 15th May. Koa to Hiker Heaven. 9 miles. The day of the coyote. 

The little quite road beside the campground turned into a super highway about 5:45 as it seemed a 1000 people we’re revving their engines on their way to work, then the trains started tooting, hooting and ringing their bells and it was rise and shine time.

A short day to Hiker Haven, The Saufleys, trail angles who open up their home and garden to hikers.

We had amazing canyons today and saw a huge nest (raven again?). The clouds were gathering as we climbed out of the canyon and into Agua Dulce. Hiker Haven is out of town, about a mile, the last mile IS the hardest even on a low mileage day! As we turned up Darling Road a pickup stopped and offered us a loft. Hallelujah, no more Granny Rush hobble.
They have showers ( with towels, sharp and conditioner!!! I’ve not used conditioner for a month!!), packing station, washing and loaner clothes, they accept Hiker boxes ( all lined up alphabetically), wifi, the use of a kitchen and Hiker boxes.
Another Trail Angel Tartan (a lovely elderly man who didn’t understand a word I was saying, who’s dad is from Glasgow) gave us a lift back down town.
We saw our first Coyote! It was running across the road as we headed back into town. About the size of a fox but looking more like a jackal! Amazing!!
It rained! Those black Clouds did mean Tut, Tut, Tut, looks like rain , and the forecast of 10% Chance of rain (not quite right!) , it rained!!! First stop cheeseburger and chips then to the local grocery store to buy 5 days of resupply. Essentially Ramen, mashed potato, tortillas and muesli $65 thank you very much. Still we are supporting the local economy! Walking back towards Hiker Haven another kind gentleman stopped and offered us a lift 🙂


Wisdom, wit or gobble-de-gook.

Cory “was ist los?”

Mandy “nichts”

Cory ” yes, nits we don’t have any yet but we are sure to get some!”

“We saw a coyote earlier crossing the street”

“Yes, they go around in packs, there are no cats in this area, they eat them”

“They even take small children”



2 thoughts on “Week 4 – SHE

  1. Hi Mandy
    Enjoying every step of the way with you , thx for sharing & , sorry about your poor feet ! Can we send out a supply of compeed anywhere?


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