Day 96: Panda Cuddling Trumpet

Every single mile of the PCT is full of amazing wonder and beauty. Well…OK, so, it’s not quite like that. (Cue the look of shock on your face, I’m sure.) It really is beautiful out here, and some moments are absolutely stunning, but, as you’d imagine, at 2 MPH (3 MPH on a really good day), things don’t always change fast enough to make everything “amazing”. Some days you’re doing almost exactly what you were doing the day before, and the day before that, through very similar kinds of terrain and scenery.

What happens when you have a thousand PCT hikers who all feel about the same way? Well…you get Perfectly Cruel Tinkerbell. And Part-time Cabbage Tickler, Pan-Cake Trailer, and many, many others.

What in the world am I talking about? Well, Plumas National Forest, for whatever reason, decided to mark this trail with little silver, diamond-shaped metal trail markers every few hundred feet. (We haven’t seen this anywhere else; I imagine it’s to make the trail easier to find in snow?) Every once in a while in the past we’d see that someone had scrawled “PCT” on one of these, usually near a junction where the right way to go wasn’t immediately clear.

Well, apparently some creative and funny hiker with a Sharpie got an idea from these, and started annotating these trail markers with alternative expansions for the acronym “PCT”. None of them make any sense or have any logic to them, and that’s why they’re kind of awesome. Partially Castrated Tiger? Sure! The abbreviations went on for dozens of these trail markers…and then we saw inspirational messages, even the story of someone asking someone named Becca to marry him. (“Did she say yes?” / “Nope!”. Oops.)

I’m not entirely sure if this comes across more as directly funny or as funny because it shows what kinds of things amuse us out here, but, either way, there’s the story for you. These scribblings easily got us through five miles on the trail this afternoon, and, hey, that’s impressive to us.

And it’s impressive to us not least of all because today was the exact opposite of yesterday. You know that 3,500 feet we descended yesterday? Well, we gained it all back today — and then some. We’re camped at nearly 7,000 feet tonight, after camping at 3,200 feet last night. For those of you who aren’t hikers, that’s a lot of climbing to do in a day. I think these mountains either have particularly deep valleys, or just don’t connect to each other in ways that make it easy or reasonable to stay on a ridge, instead of plummeting down one set of mountains and then flying up the next.

Either way, this makes hiking out here rough, especially since we’re continuing to put in 23–mile days. We’re keeping it up so far, but I’d be lying if I said we wouldn’t love a serious break right about now. We’ll get a little bit of one tomorrow, since we’re headed into the town of Belden for a resupply…but not nearly as much as we’d like, either, since we have to keep going past Belden tomorrow, and there’s a 4,500-foot climb (ack!) immediately afterwards. I hope we can keep this up, because it’s some seriously tough hiking.

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