Day Twenty Nine

Miles today: 19
Total miles: 444

Since we were so desperate for somewhere to sleep last night, we ended up camping on the intersection of the PCT and what we thought was an abandoned jeep road.

At 1:00 this morning I was woken up suddenly by a loud rumbling noise that could only be one of two things. Thunder, or -
"Oh shit, a TRUCK!" Katie yelled, shooting up in her sleeping bag.
I shot up, too. The tent was suddenly washed in bright headlights and the sound of a large truck barreling down the road threatened to run us over. We held our breaths and suddenly a loud crashing noise sounded right beside us and the truck idled. We heard men's voices and footsteps, and then someone saying, "sorry about this, guys."
"No, sorry we're in the way!" Katie said.
"You're fine," they replied.
"What's going on?" Rotisserie's voice asked from her tent.
"There's a truck on the road!" Milkman said from his.
"Their trailer fell in the ditch," Katie said, peeking out the tent door.
There was a scurry of feet, the loud creaking of a trailer, and the grumbling noise of the idling truck as the men tried to get it back on the road.
"I think we got it," the men said, and a few minutes later the truck rumbled on.

In the wake of so much noise, there was a sudden, pulsing silence, and then Papa Bear's sleepy voice called out in the darkness,
"What the hell is going on?!"
We laughed and Milkman said, "well, now that we're all awake, should we start hiking?"

We attempted to go back to sleep after that, but ended up being woken up a second time at 3:30 am when the truck came back through. It was a long night.

When my alarm went off at 5, it was much colder outside. There was frost on everything and a cold, wet fog hovering in the air. It was a struggle to get moving. Rotisserie, Katie and I got ready, but Papa Bear and Milkman refused to leave their tents until it warmed up, so we began hiking without them. It was nice hiking in the cold, for once, and the fog over the mountains was beautiful by sunrise.

Though the trek was steep, we kept pace together all morning and stopped mid afternoon at a ranger station for lunch. The Chain Gang was there, too, so we hunkered out of the wind together and joked about all the things we had to avoid today: Poodle Dog Bush, poison oak, thorny bushes, and battering wind.
"You know why it's called Poodle Dog?" Sunshine joked, "because it's annoying and no one wants it!"

After lunch we only had eight more miles to walk to get to the KOA campground, so we didn't linger. The trail went mostly downhill, but there was no shade and the lower we descended, the hotter it became. The sun was brutal by 2pm and the only thing keeping me from heat exhaustion was the somewhat constant breeze.

We soldiered on. The PCT made some ridiculous choices, going around mountains and in unnecessary circles when a straight line would have sufficed. Later Sunshine would joke, "as I came to the road junction and saw the road leading straight down while the trail went around, I thought, 'really, PCT, really?! Is it completely necessary for me to see the back of this mountain, too?? Am I going to see something different? Something wildly exciting? Oh... nope... Just more fucking desert."
We laughed and he said, "I figured out how the trail was created. Everyone got in a room together and one guy said, 'you shall take a chicken and cut off his head. Wherever he runs, there shall you lay the PCT.'"

Finally, we came to the end of the descent and arrived at the KOA campground where we were able to buy snacks, showers, and a place to camp for the night. The Chain Gang was already there and Papa Bear and Milkman caught up shortly afterward, so it was a fun reunion of an evening. 

We discovered that a local Chinese restaurant delivered to the campground, so soon we had 19 orders placed and one poor delivery boy had to cart in the three huge boxes of food for all the hungry thru hikers.

Milkman was overjoyed to be reunited with his old hiking couple, Pickles and Lucky Irish. As we relaxed in the hot tub for the evening, we listened to Pickles and Irish joke about their day on the Trail:
"When we get really bored we pretend to be news casters," Irish said. "Pickles will act like the interviewer and she'll ask me, 'so, Irish, what did you do on the PCT today?' and I'll say, 'we went up.'
'And then what?' she asks.
'Then we went down,' I say.
'There you have it, folks!' Pickles says. 'Another exciting day on the PCT! Back to you, Bob!'"
'Then I pretend to do the weather report and talk about it being hot as balls for the 47th day in a row."
We were all laughing at Irish's reenactment, much to Pickles's dismay. She blushed dark red and rolled her eyes as she said aloud, "Irish, these are the kinds of things you're really not supposed to tell people..."

I went to bed when my toes grew pruney from the water, enjoying the simple pleasure of being full, clean and refreshed.