Week 5 – (SHE)

Day 28. Tuesday 16th May. The day of the Deliverance!

The Saufleys garden was full to the brim. When we had arrived early in the morning there had been about 10 tents. By the time we tucked ourselves up in our tent there were 40+ little space age tents all over their large yard.


I got to sleep reasonably well with my earplugs and Scotrail (eye mask) shutting out the most of the friendly loud chatter.

Cory said at 10pm, Donna made a little announcement that it was ‘ now time to be as quiet as if you were at a library’ and it worked, just like turning off a switch all the hairy hikers tucked themselves up in their tents and the snoring and flatulence began.

We were treating ourselves to more lovely food at the Home Made Cafe at the bottom of Darling Road so didn’t have to be off at our usual 6am.

I braved the Saufleys portaloos and Cory’s pooh got scared at the scary sight inside the toilet and he ‘saved’ it for the cafe. After our lovely breakfast I managed to, eventually, get through to Mum and sing her Happy Birthday. Which was lovely.

We planned a light mileage day and passed a buzzard on a telegraph pole being scolded by a little irate pink breasted bird. Later on their were little cotton tails bouncing off the trail, the lizards were back running sprints along the trail and in the distance a huge eagle soared higher and higher in the thermals.

Of course the Ravens were chatting to us all day and giving us Red Devil acrobatic air shows and the fluffy red (don’t eat me) hairy beetles were back crawling along the trail.

Cory has a another new potential Trail name for me ” little miss run up the hill”! Apparently I was out climbing the young team, except they don’t nearly have a heart attack when they stop for a drink of water and need to wait a minute until their heart stops bursting out Their chest.
We climbed up out of Agua Dulce and reached Little Bear Spiring earlier than expected. We’d planned to stop here but it was only one o’clock and we had more miles in our legs. A few other young hikers were tucked up at the spring snacking and filtering water, one of whom had chosen a little mandolin or could it really have been a banjo, as their luxury item and he started plucking away, dadaladaladaladala, dadaladaladaladala…. we all burst out laughing. Should we all start running now?

We stopped again around one to ‘air our feet and dry our socks’ at a little water cache and we both agreed we weren’t hungry for lunch. Instead we are a huge back of peanuts n chocolate raisins and then attached the ‘sharing’ back of chocolate m and ms. We played the game of guess the M&M colour which is hilarious as they all taste like smarties anyway!


There was more poison(ed) oak in little wet hollows and we kept climbing. The first potential camp

Was under power lines which seemed to zap

And splutter so after a wee rest we decided to press on. Across a secret gorgeous valley we handed expected at the top of the hills and down to a little camp Tucked under some little stunted oak trees.
We had lunch for tea, tortillas, cheddar and a red salad Sauce. It may not sound heavenly but it was and not having any powdered milk we braved our Tea Negro raw.

Wisdom, wit or..

Cory’s audiobook finished and he got to thinking. If there was a horrible disaster eg last night a camp fire was lit, quite successfully, with something flammable. Imagine the whoosh!!

The tents were packed quite close together (30cm apart) and most of us carry little bottles of highly flammable gas. If something horrid were to happen, as we sleep in our flammable tents, with little bottles of fuel. Things could go horribly wrong. And who would know who we were, or how many of us there were, or even, with so many hikers using Trail Names who would know who we really were?

Day 29. Wednesday 17th May. 

The day of the Class of 2017 bandana. 

17 miles. 

I had a rubbish nights sleep under the dwarf oak trees. Of course the oak trees were not to blame. Cory and I had our sleeping backs zipped up for warmth and their were territory wars ( similar to me

Stealing the duvet) so at sometime during the night the head torch came out and the sleeping bags were Separated and we both slept a whole Lot better.


I slept in after the bag turf wars and Cory awoke me at 6:15 by packing up the tent!!

We awoke to a tropical rainforest with mists and low Clouds swirling all around and hints of blue skies Above us. We walked through the green mountains of giant heathers and dusty paths, it was beautiful and not too cold Or hot for the 7 miles to Green Valley, Casa de Luna and the Anderson family our next trail angels.

I broke lots of little spider web finishing lines, hurriedly tied across the trail as we were first to walk this little part of the trail.

We got to the road just before 9am having seen our first dog walking the PCT. We walked towards the fire station to make it easier for a car to pull in, if they wanted to pick up hitchhiker s. We lucked out as a whole Group of hikers were being dropped off and Small Steps offered us a lift back to the Anderson’s! We told Small Steps about the other two hikers up the road a Few hundred yards and She kindly went back for them, Easy and 100 lbs (His pack actually ways 115 lbs!), lovely guy though, again exUs military.

We got the grand tour of Casa de Luna, after we had chosen and put on our Hawian shirts of course, which had wonderful Camping under more dwarf oaks, lots of little painted stones and hippy messages under the shade of the trees and lots of little nooks

For camping. Again rows of

Portaloos, camping chairs, buckets to wash in and a propane shower. We got huge hugs of the hostess and offered left over pancakes and coffee from breakfast. Yum!


We were told by Small Steps the bandanas were issued at night after the Taco dinner. We’d planned to get in a 17 mile day and head or again after getting our Class Bandana, toothpaste and powdered milk.

I bit the Bullet and told our host our plans and asked if we could get the bandanas early, I was prepared to dance or sing a wee song as tradition required. Not necessary she merrily said, she reminded me so much of my Aunty Mary, if a little taller!

Then just as at the Saufleys there was a goodbye photo! We grouped together and found out how Casa De Luna got its name! Aunts Mary lookalike ‘mooned’ us as the photo was snapped.

Reason 2. It takes hikers a month to get there, a full cycle of The moon!

Next stop the shop, next stop the famed local milkshakes. Oh My God the milkshake was to die for! of course for $12 they should have been. I had an Oreo shake and Cory Raspberry. I died and went to heaven. The best shake in creation!

I drank most of Cory’s too. Hehe.

Then another hitch out of town using our new bandana, and we were off 10 more miles to camp.

We are tucked up at the crest of the hill the wild catabatic evening winds have started again and we are sitting in the tent to prevent another Wizard of Ozz catastrophe. Despite the shelter of the giant heathers the wilds have tried to pick our little dwelling off the hillside. We had to hold on to it as we had our couscous and mashed potato mix, pimped with a stock cube! Jealous?

Can’t wait for breakfast. I found raisins in the hikerbox. Our granola for the last two weeks has been almond only. I can’t wait to pimp breakfast tomorrow, a bit of water on the powdered milk mixed through it and really one of our five a day. Not M&Ms or peanuts 😉
Wisdom, wit or gobble-de-gook.

Hi, I’m Easy”

Day 30. Thursday 18th May. 

Day of 500 miles

What an amazing sleep I had. We shut the front door and whether that was the reason or something else, I had a completely undisrupted sleep. From 8pm to 6:15 when Cory started his ‘rustling’.

 

Breakfast was a bit late by the time we walked down, down, down to the next water source which was supposed to be 2/10ths of a mile off route at Sawmills campsite. It was more than that! The campsite that time forgot. Cory went from

The campsite even further down the canyon to get us water. We just used chlorine tablets, as we usually do during the day to save time, to purify the water.

There had been a hatching of ants and the water source was full of little translucent wings. Will we turn into mutant ants with wings after all the little ant wings we drank?
Breakfast with the pimped raisins did live up to expectations. But has my Hiker hunger finals kicked in? After my huge helping of granola I had to have a trail mix bar for breakfast pudding. In fact all day I thought of food!

I’d kill for roasted cheese, or fresh mango, pineapple and banana chopped and smothered in thick Greek yoghurt. And don’t get me started on diet Irn Bru! At least we are having cups of tea again, tetley tea bags from home and coffee mate. Lunch was awesome too. Flour tortillas with sweaty cheddar cheese and greasy salami. A-maz-ing!!! At night I surprised Cory with my smuggled packet of Opal Fruits (starburst) before we had our Idaho Loaded Smash and then I had another fruit bar. Why is the diet plan not working!

We had a lovely mid morning break under a beautiful oak tree which views down into the desert. This is where we will be headed tomorrow. Then ravens did their usual silent pass overhead. They often fly silently along, following our path.

I’ve now finished listen to the 17 hour long audio book on Ravens and I’ve turned into the David Attenborough for Ravens. The only way to tell the difference between males and females is with their calls. I can, with one particular call, tell if it’s a lady!

Potential Trail name Raven Whisperer 😉

The day was hot as usual and as usual when we stopped for a break we would find the shade of a friendly accommodating tree, we then dig out our duvet jackets and put these on as we chill quickly with the winds and the sweat drying on our bodies.
We saw deer tracks of Some Description today and something big too. A big carnivore?

I was looking forward to the 500 mile monument but it just turned out to be a marker. Still it’s incredible to think we had worked 500 miles from the Mexican border. I’ve never walked so far before during any of my long distance walks!

We are now at Horse Campground and we have 50 miles and

2+ Days to my next white sheet experience in Tehachipi! The sooner we get in on the 21st the longer I had to enjoy the luxury of running water, showers and being clean. These matter more than the bed and white sheets. Not smelling, being clean, having clean clothes!
The last few miles to the campsite

Were gorgeous, through green deciduous forest, with meadows and more lupin lined trails.
Wisdom, wit or gobble-de-gook.

Mandy “all the hummingbirds have dried up”

Cory “maybe it’s like our food, just add water”. 
Day 31. 19th May. Day of the 27 miles in the desert. Horse Camp

To the Cottonwood Creek faucet.

What amazing skies we had last night (again)! I guess I don’t always see them but I had to visit nature last night the huge pine trees reached up to touch the sky. Creating huge silhouettes, lovely black frames to focus my attention on the beautiful deep blue of the night sky and the amazing stars watching over us.

10 miles of down down down into the desert. But this is PCT down which means, up, down, wiggly, jiggly, zig and zag, all the way to Hiker Town.

We couldn’t figure out from the web what Hiker Town was or is! We had our luxury pimped muesli before we arrived as I had growling with hunger. Then around 1/2 an hour later we’d arrived at Hiker Town
What is it? Someone’s property, a trail angel, who has turned

Lots of little outbuildings and sheds in little Hiker bedrooms. There is a saloon, a post office etc. It’s fun and lovely. Their is a tap at the entrance if all you are after is water but the sign invited you in to enjoy the shade. Their were chickens roaming around and speaking very much like the Weasleys. I missed my girls.
The seed of second breakfast had been planted by a notice up the trail. Hourly rides to the local store and cafe! When we arrived the driver said he’d come

Back and take us! Hallelujah! Breakfast burrito for me and full American for Cory. I shared my burrito as it was huge and after all it was second breakfast.
After the mink fiasco getting back to Hiker Town we filled up on water. Packed our 2 litres of Sunkist loopy juice and said farewell to the other hikers who were going to wait out the heat.
We had 16 miles across the desert to our next water! We set

Off just after High Noon! The going was good at first. Their was a breeze and the pipe Over the aquaduct was easy to walk on, the path was deep Sand and difficult. Eventually the aquaduct went underground and was covered with cement, again quick to walk on but slowly, ever so slowly the feet started to complain at the pummelling from the hard surface. I tried to walk on the soft surface at the side as much as possible. We thought we were flying but the PCT app told a different story.

Their were some Cottontails and jackrabbits bouncing about and curiously looking at us but no other hikers.

We were fueled with second breakfast and the (don’t give it to the children) Sunkist. We stopped every two hours or so as usual and aired the feet. My peacock gaiters have developed a large hole. Grr!!

Eventually we encounter another mad hobbling Hiker, Joe, for the next four hours we play hiker hopscotch with Joe.

Our hiking day started at 6:30am, we were determined to get to next water before bed. I was listening to a new book, Terry Waite, Taken on Trust. Terry had just endured his first encounter of torture. He was chained, arms and legs, two pillows placed over his head and someone sat on him, then another terrorist beat the souls of his feet. Then they stopped, ran their finger down the length of his foot to see if he still had sensation, he did, they beat him even more.

I knew my sore feet were nothing compared to Terry’s. We keep plodding on. At 7pm we stopped again for a foot break and for dinner. We hadn’t eaten since second breakfast. We inhaled the Ramen, it didn’t touch our sides.

Fortified with carbohydrate and MSG we made the final push. I can’t listen to the horrors that Terry was enduring. I needed something to make me bounce. I took off the earphones, and started with the Stone Roses, Second Coming and then The Complete Stone Roses, I couldn’t exactly bounce or bop, I didn’t really have enough moisture in my mouth to sign but My singalong gave me the boost I needed.

Shortly 7:30pm, the sun having just set, we arrived at the bridge over the creek. The sky was turning pink, Cory hobbled down to the tank and wonderful water spurted

From the tank. Heaven on earth. Clean water (just add chlorine tabs).

Joe hobbled in about 20 minutes later and we were all tucked in our tents by 8:30.

Our longest mileage and day so far. 27 miles!!

We were wired however after the never ending desert hike! E numbers? Caffeine? Or just up beyond our bedtime? We both struggled to fall asleep despite the overwhelming fatigue, the raw feet, the pain.

Cory found some Ibuprofen and we tried sleep again. I managed with Scotrail and Earplugs, Cory didn’t.

The other hikers arrived between 10 and midnight.
Day 32. 20 May. Saturday. 

The day of the chaos crystals (Benign Proxy Vertigo) and apples in the desert.

We had a lazy start, tea and muesli before even getting Out of bed. Cory (aka Slave Driver) must have been tired. Hehe. It’s Unheard off and bliss.

This turned out to be my hottest hardest day so far!! At least yesterday their had been a breeze. Today their was nothing.

It’s weird walking through these miles and miles of wind turbines. You know these toilets were you walk in and their is a sensor and the lights miraculously come on? Well I kept thinking, there must be a breeze up ahead, those turbines are still on. However as we reached the turbines they switched off! We were the catalyst that switched the turbines off. 😦

Where does the water I invest go? I wonder how the percentages divide in the water I secrete? 1/3 snot. 1/3 perspiration. 1/3 respiration. I certainly don’t pee enough!!!!’

Today however it was all perspiration. It was running into my eyes, I could have rung out my Tshirt, I couldn’t see for sweat, my eyes were burning with the salt. Dis-gust-ing!!!!

It was a big up day and we wanted to get close enough to Tehachipi as possible. PCT up? Up, down, Up, up, Zig, zag, wiggly, jiggly, up up.

No big deal other than we needed lots of water and the respite of shade under many bushes. It wasn’t a tree day, just dry dusty desert.

At lunch I lay down my head, under our benevolent shade providing bush, and the angle must have been off. My little chaos crystals from my Benign Positional vertigo escaped. After lunch when I tried to walk, I was ‘drunk’ Mandy. It was horrible. It would have been fine if it had been a wide straight path but it wasn’t!

It now took me an age to walk and concentrate. My legs were shaking with the concentration of trying to stay on the path.

Going was slow! It was torturously hot. So so hot. No wind. Up. Up. Up.

One final push? 2.5 miles to camp…

Then Magic!!
Chairs, water, cookies and apples in the middle of the desert!!

I was in heaven. The apples were gone, it seemed, in one bite,crunch. Glug, the water was gone, chomp, biscuits gone in one bite. Heaven! Thank you Trail Angels.

Sugar Rushy returned. The path improved. I managed to walk on (stagger). We now only have 7 miles To walk tomorrow to town and hopefully my chaos crystals were tucked themselves up in the bit of my ear where they are supposed to live and not run about out of doors! (And I’ll watch the YouTube video on the Eply manoeuvre and then try it until the chaos crystals are back in their playpen).

Wisdom, wit or gobble-de-gook.
While walking through the miles of wind farms. The desert (and me) is one fire. Mandy to another hiker on the trail “Morning, it’s gonna be a hot one!”

Hiker ” yes I wish they’d turn on all of these fans

Day 33. Tehachapi. 7 miles to our hitchhike. 

The stars were amazing again last night. The sky was the deepest blue with brilliant stars all around, seemingly close enough to touch.

It was a PCT down today. This essentially means you do as much Up as you do down, with the wiggly, jiggily, zigzag. A route as the raven flies which would normally probably be two miles. Still there is no incentive quite like a Mcdonald breakfast and milkshake to keep you moving. The chaos crystals have settled a bit over night and the path is wide enough that even if I stagger a bit I’m unlikely to fall to my death. Even the wind turbines stay on as we pass, we have a breeze.

We only wait 5 minutes and a kindly gentleman stops and takes us straight to McDonald’s, then Dollar Tree for our body weight in crisps, chocolate and soda, next it’s our 501 moment in the laundry. We now have no shame!

When we get to the Ranchmotel it’s back to back Law & Orders SVU, crisps, chocolate and pizza hut delivery, no need to leave the room, shower and clean sheets! Followed by the Eply maneuver for pudding.

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