Day Fourteen

Today's miles: 17
Total miles: 180

Today will go down in infamy as the day that I discovered caffeinated energy gels. And I got my trail name. (No relation). But more on that later.

Since last night was so cold, we got a much later start than usual this morning. Without desert temperatures to worry about, we don't have to fret about running from the sun all day, which is a welcome change.

We were on the trail at 8 and climbing, once again.  The elevation was still kicking my butt, but I was so happy not to have 100 degree temperatures at 9 am that it didn't matter as much. It just meant slower traveling. The views on this section of trail have been absolutely stunning. Everyone agrees it's the prettiest stretch we've done, and I'm glad we didn't do it in poor weather, because we would have missed all the views. We were up at 9,000 feet now, higher than I have ever hiked, and could see down into the valley on either side of the ridge line. We walked among pine trees and cool breezes and I was in heaven.

However, we were still moving along quite slowly. By 3:00 pm we had only done 11 miles and I was very winded by the high elevation climbs. I was also growing quite frustrated by the shrubs that overtake the PCT. You see, the trail is only a foot wide most of the time, and often it is rimmed by prickly brushes, shrubs and other thorny things that hang over into it and force you to walk through them. And clumsy me, I get stuck in those damn shrubs every. Single. Time. They beat me up and take my lunch money and then spit me back out. Rude, I tell you. But my inability to get through those shrubs on the first try earned me my trail name today: Bramble. And since I'm a slow hiker anyway, the name works as a contraction of "Brittany Ambles", so it fits. My trail name is born.

We took a short snack break midday and that's when I discovered a caffeinated energy gel that had been hiding in my backpack for a week.

Ok, here's what you need to know about this situation. First, I never have caffeine. Like, ever. No soda, no coffee, no nothin. Not that I have anything against it, I just don't generally like the taste of those things. But this also means that my body doesn't quite know what to do when given the equivalent of two shots of espresso. But today I needed a pick me up, I had the gel shot, and several thing happened in quick succession:

1) I turned into the equivalent of a drunken five year old with ADD. ("Hey guys! Hey! Hey! Whatcha doin? Hey!")
2) I went from plodding slowly along the trail to something similar to a light jog. While giggling about it.
3) I started making up ridiculous songs about climbing mountains and singing them. Loudly. Off key. And they sounded like this:

"This is my uphill song!
Why don't you sing along?
Going uphill's really lame!
But soon it'll go down again!"

4) I sang in a funny accent so that the words "lame" and "again" rhyme. (They do. I promise.)

Basically the moral of the story is that caffeine changed my life. Or at least made me scale 3,000 feet of elevation in a somewhat drunken state, which is kind of the same thing.

So the rest of the day's hike was pretty awesome after that. I was feeling good, climbing mountains and kicking ass. We did 17 miles and then found a nice campsite with Hitch and Chris that night, feeling satisfied with a good day in the San Jacinto Wilderness.