PCT Day 5: Snakes on a Trail and Hot, Hot Heat 

​April 15, 2017

Oriflamme Canyon – Mile 74.45 (55.94-74.45)

18.51 miles

Last night might have been a bit cold for cowboy camping, but it also might have been my best night of sleep on the trail so far. I had to put my rain pants and gloves on shortly after I went to bed, but later in the night it seemed to have warmed up a bit. The stars were amazing early in the night, but then the bright spotlight moon came up and scared them all away. 

I didn’t end up getting up much earlier than most mornings, but I did sit on a rock to watch the sunrise and eat my poptart. I was hiking just before 7AM. 

Michael and Peanut watching the sunrise 

A couple miles into the day, I reached the creek running through Oriflamme Canyon (usually dry, but currently flowing). A bunch of us were gathered there to collect water, when suddenly Ken (one of the volunteers from Scout and Frodo’s) appeared! He handed around clementines, which was amazing. Trail magic! Apparently he goes out and hikes sections to see the hikers after he drops groups off at the border. We hiked a bit together after leaving the creek, and then I was on my own again. 

Trail magic from Ken! 

It was another beautiful day, but my feet were feeling pretty sore. After hiking several miles, I took my morning coffee/breakfast shake break and decided to pop an ibuprofen as well. With the dual drug combo of caffeine and pain killers swirling in my system, I was ready to get my hike on. 

The quote on my Lunabar seemed to apply to my current life situation 

There was a lot of downhill today. I dropped about 2600 feet over the course of the day. On one of the big drops, I saw my first rattlesnake of the trail!! I was walking along, when I suddenly decided I needed to clean my camera lens. When I was done, I went to start walking again and there it was, just a few feet ahead of me, stretched across the trail. I watched it for a couple minutes before it slithered off on its own. I turned the corner a couple of minutes later and saw a fox bounding off the trail! It was an exciting morning for wildlife sightings. 

First rattlesnake!! 

At the bottom of the hill, I met up with Ken again and another hiker from the creek this morning, and Michael showed up shortly afterwards. I sat in the shade and applied sunscreen before beginning the big climb up a sunny dirt road. After I got back on the trail, I saw Ken coming back the other direction, heading back to where he had parked. 

Not long after, I saw another rattlesnake!! Again, I somehow didn’t notice it until it was only a couple feet in front of me. This one was also across the trail, but didn’t want to move. I tossed a few small sticks and rocks in its direction, but it didn’t even seem to notice. The sides of the trail were pretty steep on both sides, but I tried to edge around it on the upslope. Thankfully, it suddenly seemed to notice I was there and slithered away downhill. 

The day was hot and sunny, and the trail wound around exposed ridges pretty much all day. The air was still for most of the morning, and then I turned around the corner of one of the ridges and there was suddenly gusting wind! It felt soooooo nice. 

Yes, that is CAFFEINATED PEANUT BUTTER!!

The next water source was a water tank that’s naturally filled with rain water. Hopefully it will rain soon, otherwise I don’t know how much longer it will last. There were lots of hikers taking their afternoon breaks there. I caught up with Jo and Mick, who had camped a few miles ahead of us. I found a shady spot and sat there for almost two hours, eating lunch, filtering water, and washing my feet and socks. A few of the other hikers mentioned they had spent the morning following the “little orange dot” that was me off in the distance (because my shirt is so bright). 

When I finally headed out, it was about 2:30pm and it was HOT. As I wound down along the ridges, the environment became more and more desert-like. There were tons of cacti along the trail today. Maybe we’re entering the “real” desert section now. It was pretty tough walking, and my drug of choice for the afternoon was music. I put in a headphone for the last couple miles of the day, which really helped me get through them. 

I got to my planned camp area around 5pm. The Guthook app said there was space for “dozens” of tents in the area, so I was kind of anticipating a tent city, but it looks like I’ll be camping alone for the first night on trail. 5 hikers have passed since I got here, but they were all either pressing on the Scissors Crossing/Julian, or planning to camp a bit further on. I think the people who left the water tank before me all pushed on to Scissors Crossing, and everyone who left after me must have stopped earlier. It’s dark now, so if anyone does show up it’ll be a night hiker. 

Only got a little dirty today…

I forgot to put sunscreen on my hands at my first sunscreen break, so they’re a bit red and sore now, but my feet are actually feeling pretty alright. I’m just a couple miles from Scissors Crossing, where there is usually a water cache, so that will be my first stop of the day tomorrow. I’m really tired tonight, so hopefully I’ll fall asleep easily. 

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