pct mile 0 to mile 20
i stay with trail angels scout & frodo the night before i begin. josef is volunteering here for a month & seeing him is a huge comfort. over breakfast i say something about my life philosophy involving primarily doing dumb things… why did i say that? i mostly keep quiet after that, i get lost in my mind.
i hang back at the monument. josef finally urges me forward & says “look excited babe!”…. apparently this is my excited face?
a combination of nerves & the half cup of strong coffee i’d had at scout & frodo’s had my stomach feeling all kinds of ways so before i hit the trail i attempt my 1st cat hole. leave no trace ethics dictate that it should be at least six inches deep & toilet paper must be carried out. it isn’t until miles later that i remember w a pang that you’re supposed to stir the hole w a stick to encourage biodegrasion. i silently apologize to the tender desert ecosystem.
i walk through mikes of chaparral & yucca. everything is lush & green after the wet winter.
around 10:30 i sink gratefully into a shaded slab of granite overlooking the dips & climbs to come. turkey vultures dive & circle through the air. i devour a wasa cracker & babybel sandwich. the cheese has kind of melted into the wax but it is so so good. the way the boulders are arranged means that i can see people before they can me. i startle a few with my greetings before i decide to just let them pass.
after a while i notice that someone had made a circle of rocks in the ground. strange, i think. i step back to inspect & notice that, no, the rocks spell 10. 10 miles. okay, then.
after a steep descent i come to hauser creek. 15 miles. okay. it’s only 3 in the afternoon & i feel alright so i rest for a while, clean my feet, before i look upwards towards the climb out of the canyon. i’ve heard awful things & it so does not disappoint. the ridges are so bakingly exposed & the switchbacks unrelenting.
the last mile feels like an entire lifetime & i try to conjure the thought of anything that might cheer me up & give me something to walk towards. i settle on calling josef- even have it worked out. i will get into lake morena at six & i call him but the first thing i will say would be “i’m sorry i know it’s dinnertime!” i drag my poor listless body to the ranger station & pay for my hiker campsite & after i set up my little tarp i sit inside & call him. it takes me a full minute of waiting for it to begin to ring for me to realize that there is no service. how?! there had been service for most of the day but i have dutifully kept my phone in airplane mode. disappointed, i put myself to sleep before 8:30, exhausted.