Of all the factors that determine how tough a day out here feels, there are some that are obvious, like how long we hike for and how much ascent and descent there is. And then there are others that are probably even more important, but which aren’t as obvious at first blush. Two big ones in this category are how long it’s been since we’ve taken a zero, and how long it is between resupplies.
As of today, it’s been twelve days since we’ve taken a zero, and this stretch is a hundred miles — nearly five days — between resupplies, which is about as long as it ever gets. We also transitioned abruptly from a part of the wilderness that was impressively flat (given that we’re in mountainous terrain) to one that seems to go up and down every little hill, meaning we were pretty much constantly climbing or descending. Throw in us having to go 25 miles, longer than our planned 23, because of the lack of a campsite near the 23-mile point, and…well, today was a brutal day. We’re headed into Etna, California tomorrow for a half-day of relaxation, and I can’t even tell you how good that feels in anticipation.
This stretch of trail is actually familiar to us, too, and it’s the last part of the PCT we’ll run across that we’re actually a little familiar with. Last year, we came out over 4th-of-July weekend and hiked along the PCT in the Trinity Alps, this area, for about twelve miles, staying two nights in the backcountry. It was really beautiful, and I remember being excited to be on the PCT itself. (We even met a through-hiker back then, which was a little surprising, because being up here over the 4th of July is really speedy for a through-hiker.) I also remember thinking that twelve miles felt like a long way to hike. It’s pretty cool coming through here once again, seeing familiar sights, yet this time having hiked here all the way from Mexico…and having twelve miles be just a morning or afternoon of hiking.
We’ve run into some interesting folks in …