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PCT Days 48 - 52

Day 48

Back on the trail - having found a different route that by-passed the hideousness that was miles 180 - 190. I rejoined the trail via an alternate eight mile ascent to get me to 7,500 feet and then began the rapid descent to 1,200 feet over ten miles. Alas, my legs, and particularly my feet, are screaming in shock at their requirement to work again, especially after two days of lying around in bed, where a trip to the loo has been all that’s been expected of them. I didn’t quite make it to mile 200, which was my ambition, but am now happily back in the Clingfilm Castle at mile 197.

Tomorrow, I am once again in the desert at low altitude. It’s nice to be away from bear country. Just gotta get past an angry bee swarm and two rattlesnakes tomorrow according to our navigation system.

Day 49

A day of being bested by insects.

Packed away tent, and disturbed a scorpio-looking thing, and a very hairy spider. Then, was attacked by a swarm of bees on the way down the mountain this morning - stung on the ear! I killed two, and nearly threw my hiking poles down the gully trying to escape them. I then pitched my tent at 6pm, following a very hot, very exhausting day, only to discover the entire population of American flies had moved in before I did. Disgruntled, I de-camped to find a better spot - which was a race against sundown, and it turns out, another swarm of bees. Got stung on the hand. Lost my fingerless glove to the fight. Nearly threw my hiking poles down that gully too.

It’s like each hive has these kamikaze bees whose entire job is to seek and destroy.

Added to shopping list: bug spray.

Day 50

‘Mission Creek’ is the name of six miles uphill. It should be Mission: Creek.

Last year’s heavy snow, avalanches bringing down trees, plus neglect of the PCT by the PCTA means the trail is practically unfindable in places. Others, I note, just call it ‘hell’.

In the end, I decided the easiest way to navigate the full six miles was to walk up the river. No easy task because although it was flowing well, the large stones meant every foot had to be secure. Slow going. Sometimes I could edge to the sides and try to find trail but mostly it was just following someone else’s confused footprints. I did, however, enjoy crossing and re-crossing the river - the water was cool, but not cold and it kept me fresh. Until, of course, my water-logged shoes and socks started to cause blisters.

It was a bit unfortunate that four miles in the river forked off. And I forked off with it. It was well over an hour before I realised, and then I was mighty forked off indeed!

Today’s mileage: a disappointing fourteen. I’m not even through Mission: Creek yet.

Day 51

It took four horrible, long, frustrating hours to navigate my way out of Mission: Creek, only, of course to then face a 4,000ft ascent to 8,500ft. The trail conditions were terrible: it is badly neglected and slow-going. I can honestly say it was my toughest day in a while, not helped by seeing my first rattlesnake. I had so wanted to be part of the “There’s no rattlesnakes on the PCT” club. Thankfully, it darted one way and I darted the other. I also startled a stunningly oranged-striped, and very harmless, mountain kingsnake, which are very rare. Then, clearly I pissed off yet another bee because I was stung again this time on my back -through my top. I did not enjoy much of today at all aside from the last two hours when I was back in lovely alpine conditions.

Funny because I should be celebrating the fact that I completed 500 miles today! Still, tomorrow is re-supply day so yay!

Day 52

I made it out to Big Bear! I've eaten, I've shopped and now I'm in a hostel for PCT Hikers for the night - and met two people I've met before, who like me have flip-flopped around. We last met at the Aqueduct briefly but I didn't stop to chat for long.

I can say this though - coming into civilisation is a real shocker indeed. I have to form words and coherent sentences and interact and stuff. But it's kind of cool coming into towns and people being so lovely "Are you a PCT Hiker?" they ask.

They can smell us an hour away.

My legs are now so tired, I'm often overtaken by these...

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