PCT Day 19: Twenty Mile Magic 

​April 29, 2017

Mile 235.48 – Arrastre Trail Camp (235.48-256.18)

20.7 miles

It was a cold morning. My alarm went off at 5AM and it took everything I had to change out of my warm sleeping clothes and stuff away my cozy quilt. I finally managed to get hiking just before 6.

The first 5 miles of the day were rough. There was a lot of steep uphill, and we were entering the area burned by the Lake Fire, so the trail was a bit of a mess, with lots of downed trees and somewhat washed out areas. There was also a brutally cold wind blowing. I had to hike in my rain jacket and fleece gloves, and briefly considered even putting on my rain pants. 

First light. 

The burn area was pretty desolate and a bit creepy. It must have been an intense fire because the tall trees were scorched black from bottom to top. Far above, bits of rock broke off and tumbled down the slope, sending echoes off the silent canyon walls. After 5 miles of climbing on legs that felt like they were made of lead, I stopped for my coffee break, but the cold wind made it difficult to enjoy the rest. I ate a single serving cup of peanut butter with my spoon, hoping the fat calories would somehow warm me. 

In the burn. 

After my break, the trail flattened out and got much easier. I took deep breaths of the pine needle-scented air and felt the sun on my skin and thought “Everything is alright”. I wound around ridges with views of the snow-capped peak of San Gorgonio. I had climbed back up to over 8000 feet, and there were a few snow patches alongside the trail, but luckily the trail itself stayed clear and dry. I came around a corner to find an awesome view of San Jacinto in the distance. It’s insane to think that just a few days ago we were standing on top of it, and now it looks so far away. 

It was almost noon, and I was looking for a place to eat lunch, when I finally caught up with Gummies and joined him on his lunch break, with an awesome view of San Gorgonio. We walked together the rest of the day. I like hiking alone, but I need a good balance of alone time and hiking with other people. 

Shortly after lunch, we passed a bunch of sad looking animals in tiny cages. I think they were animals that were used in movies or something, but there was a grizzly bear pacing back and forth in its few feet of living space, and a lion sprawled out behind bars, among others. It was kind of depressing. 

We’ve walked 400 kilometres!! 

All day, rumours of magic were swirling up and down the trail. When we saw lawn chairs set up in a parking lot just off trail, we ran down excitedly, but it turned out to be something set up for cyclists on a training ride. Somewhat disappointed, we ended up just lying in the parking lot for a while, picking at things from our food bags. Yard Sale tried to get the Domino’s in Big Bear to deliver pizza to the parking lot, but it was outside of their delivery range. 

About a mile after we moved on, we found the real trail magic. There was a couch set up beside the trail, and a dumpster filled with snacks. All the soda and fruit was gone, but we were able to snag some cookies. There were only 3 miles left til camp after that. As I was hiking along, I suddenly realized that I felt great. Amazing, even. This was my longest day yet on the trail, and nothing in my legs hurt, my feet didn’t hurt, and I didn’t feel tired at all. It was awesome. I felt like I could hike forever. But I only went 3 more miles. 

The real trail magic! 

We’re camped at an official “trail camp” tonight, so there’s tons of tenting space, plus picnic tables and a fire pit. Most of the hikers from last night’s tent tetris site are here, as well as some new hikers. I had an absolutely delicious dinner of some kind of quinoa and rice salad mix. It was actually somewhat healthy and tasted really good, so I’m definitely going to buy more. 

After dinner, some of the other hikers had started a campfire, and most of the people in camp gathered around. Jokes were told and stories shared, and the warmth of the fire felt sooo good. It’s going to be another chilly night tonight. But there isn’t supposed to be any wind, which will be super nice. Tomorrow it’s just under 10 miles to town, woooo! 

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