Day 5 - 28miles
Had a terrible night last night... The place I'd chosen to sleep turned out to be the windiest place ever. Waking at 1am my tent was being blown at from all sides. I was getting use to the quiet, tranquil nights of the desert not this wind swept hill top. It was my own fault for not finding a better spot. I rested till half 4 before I decided to get up and pack up in disarray.
My bag is packed horribly and I carry my tent in my hands for a mile until I find somewhere sheltered to re-pack. I follow the curves of the hill side, the sun still dormant. Rounding a bend I arrive at the perfect spot with a lovely sandy floor. Why didn't I sleep here last night I muse. O well least it's an early start for me. I eat a packet of cous-cous and sit still for a moment enjoying the wind-free solitude. I re-roll my tent, re-stuff my sleeping bag and walk on hands free.
The sun soon breaks the dawn and the heat began to flare up. I find a water cache which is lucky and top up my water before I hit the 900 ft climb. The ascent isn't actually hard but the heat makes it so. It a gradual climb and I'm slow.
I plod on till 11 am and stop for more cous-cous and dried fruit. I dump my bag in the shade and follow. I check my next resupply location - Warner Springs, a little town with a petrol station where I can buy a few things from. I'd be getting into town on Memorial Day, a bank holiday so I hoped it would be open still. I had 2 packs of cous-cous left. A south-bounder appears just section hiking the trail. We nodded briefly in acknowledgment but say nothing.
I wish my water tasted better then the actual warm water it tasted like. At least I had some. If I made it into Warner Springs today I'd have done a 28 mile day. I follow the path which today seems endless as it leads me into it's deep crevasses. It makes me travel every in and out of every turn as the valley eventually begins to descend. There are no short cuts as either side is steep, bush-ridden slope up or down. I sing aloud to myself to pass the time and don't see anyone. I hike by a little sign reading..
Northbounders - Congrats, first 100miles, only 26 more to go!
On the reverse it reads,
Southbounders - Congrats, only 100 miles to go!
I smile meekly looking forward to taking off my backpack to night. I eventually reach the bottom and find a bath shaped container full of water. The next stretch is shade less.
Grass hoppers bounce like coils of little springs, I can hear them colliding with the dry grass as I walk along the trail. I follow them as they lead me on. I enter a little forest and a small stream is flowing. I'm doing ok and the promise of a town up ahead spurs me on. Random brown cows call out hidden somewhere in the hills.
I reach the borders of Warner Springs and see a sign directing hikers to the Resource Center promising refreshments, showers and laundry at a small fee. I immediately head there and hobble into the grounds to find it's just closed. A trio of hikers are chilling in the grounds, their tents already pitched. I plonk my bag down and myself after it. I hear of the tantalizing things I'd just missed. Least there are plugs here so I can charge my phones and the toilets have running water so I wash my feet and clothes.
The hikers I camp with have just finish university and thought they'd tackle the PCT together. They offer me packets of porridge and skittles which I add water to and eat thankfully. I can't be bothered to pitch my tent so I cowboy camp. Whilst snuggled down in our sleeping bags we swap stories of the trail and I join in the daily high and lows of the day. My high is crossing the 100 miles mark and my low is getting to the center late. We eventually dissolve into silence and one by one we fall asleep. It's a clear night and I eye the moon before I nod off. A slight chill lingers in the air and I slip lower into my sleeping bag.