Racing Winter on the Pacific Crest Trail – Day 20

Day- 20
Date- 5-3-16
Location- Side of trail near creek
Elevation-  6,467
Distance Traveled Today- 18 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 286.7 miles
Weather/Temp- clear,  60s 70s
Injuries- object in leg
Pain level- low
Spirits/Morale- High
Days without shower- 2
Hunger/craving- low


Well,  Katana did not share in our grandiose fantasies of a 30 mile day, but it’s not her fault..

I got up early and was on trail by about 6:30. Katana was walking,  but she was going about half our normal speed.  Not wanting to ruin a semi good thing,  I went with her pace.


The entire day was spent hiking around 8,000 feet.  No snow, no ice,  just a beautiful day with moderate temperatures. I can’t recall walking through any real desert like sections today;  it was all mostly just pine forest, mixed in with some desert like shrubs and bushes.


There was plenty of shade, and plenty of places to sit and rest with beautiful views.  After all the freezing, rainy,  burning hot,  or shadeless sections, today felt more like a walk in the woods than any day previous on this journey,  and it was wonderful.


While I was hiking,  I felt great,  but every time I stopped in a nice shady spot,  the wind would go right out of my sails. The breaks were long and relaxing today,  and that’s  ultimately what killed our goal of 30 miles (not Katana taking her time).  We’d set down on a log or a rock for a bit,  then want to recline some, and move to the ground,  then want to lie down,  break out our pads and snooze for a bit. Why rush through such pretty scenery and natural sitting/resting spots?  It would be a waste to pass them all by, in a hurry to get back down to the desert and subsequently  more water and shade woes. Smell the roses, and never pass up a good thing.


So it was a stop and go day,  without any real animal sightings, or super exciting experiences. I carried Katana a couple times for a short distance during the middle of the day,  but other than that,  she mosied along at her own comfortable pace.


I figured out a trick to get her energized when she was beginning to look lazy.  If I knew she was about to lay down or get rebellious, I would quickly dart off the trail and act like I was trying to catch a lizard or snake; flipping over rocks or small logs and burying my hands in the dirt.  She would immediately perk up,  bound to my side, and begin frantically looking for whatever it was I was after.  I would then snatch up a stick or a rock, flash it at her real quick,   then throw it down the trail. It got her going every time,  and she would ride off the excitement of these “fake encounters” for at least another 20 mins to half an hour,  on high alert,  looking for the next creature. I don’t know how long this trick will work for, but I’ll need to be careful not to run it into the ground.

We had some gorgeous views of Bear Lake,  and walked through a section of forest decimated by a past fire.  The burnt land looked sad,  and that sadness was contagious. Only lizards seemed to inhabit this stretch of scorched pines and rock.


The pine Grove we’re camped in is also burnt,  but everything is still green here.  The only clue that gives away the past fire, are the charcoaly black trunks of the pine trees; luckily these ones survived.


No plans or goals for tomorrow. Just going to wake up,  walk, and see how far our feet take us.  I prefer not having a set plan or schedule while I’m out here; I feel that it keeps me more in the moment,  less in the future, and saves me from any potential disappointment when those plans or schedules fall through.

We’re on a long descent back towards lower elevations tomorrow, so it’s only going to get hotter, not to mention less shade-ier.

The weather and terrain has really had me disoriented.  One second you’re in a desert,  the next you’re in freezing snow.  One second it’s hot without a cloud in the sky,  the next it’s freezing and sleeting rain.  One second you’re surrounded by lush trees and vegetation, the next you’re surrounded by cactus and thorny bushes, with no shade in sight.  One second there’s zero wildlife,  the next you can’t take a step without spooking some kind of lizard.  It’s a confusing yet amusing environment, and despite its lack of predictability, it’s growing on me.

Go to Day 21.

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