Location- Side of trail
Elevation- 5,243 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 17.4 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 406.6 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 70s 80s
Pain level- low
Days without shower- 4
Today was a frustrating, but overall good day. Right off the bat, we hit another trail closure and detour. Four miles of trail were closed off, due to the presence of an endangered frog. We had two options; road walk on a winding highway to another road that lead to a campground, then pick up a trail that would take us back up to the PCT; or hitchhike to a further point on the trail and pick it back up there, cutting off miles of walkable trail.
We opted to road walk, then take the side trail that would run us back into the PCT, at the far side of the closure, not missing any walkable miles. The majority of the people that we met… voluntarily skipped between 10 and 15 miles further up the trail. Hike Your Own Hike-HYOH I guess.
The road walk and side trail weren’t that bad, and only ended up adding a few extra miles than what we would have done had that section of the PCT been open. Not sure how many miles we actually hiked today, but it’s more than the 17 we gained on the PCT.
After Katana’s stellar 19 mile day yesterday, as well as her third day in a row without needing to be carried; she had tender paws this morning. I was more than happy and willing to carry her all day today, in order to give her a break. She would try to walk, but I couldn’t bring myself to watch her hop every couple of steps. Water was scarce today, so on top of the 20 pounds of dog I was carrying, I also had between 8 and 12 pounds of water; tipping the scales on my shoulders to around 60 or more pounds at times. The extra weight coupled with the heat, lack of a breeze, and a rather long and steeper-ish uphill section; made for some strenuous hiking today. Like I said, I’m more than happy to carry her when she needs it (it’s the hike I signed up for with her), but I generally don’t enjoy myself as much when I’m battling the extra weight, tough terrain, and heat. It’s hard not to focus on the painful strain it puts on my neck and shoulders, as well as the painfully slower pace; instead of thinking about other things, and letting my mind wander. The way I look at it is, she could be sitting comfortably on my shoulders, whilst on an epic cross country adventure; or…sitting comfortably on the couch back home, letting the minutes of her life tick by, doing the same things every day. I wouldn’t change our arrangement out here for anything in the world, but I sure can’t wait to get to those booties… I just hope she hikes in them.
A bit of good news today! As I was sitting down taking a break, I scratched my leg and inadvertently ripped off the small scab that was covering where the object had entered the side of my shin. I looked down and saw something black poking out; so I grabbed it and pulled. Out came about a thin, centimeter long thorn that was shaped just like a scorpion stinger. It fell off my finger before I got a picture, but I took a picture of the hole it left behind. It’s nice to be free of all foreign objects once again.
Other than the thorn, only one other thing stood out about today…we lost Mason. Absolutely no idea what happened to him; we can only guess.
Me, Schweppes, and Mason all walked the detour around the closure together. We stopped to get some water about 200 feet from where the side trail ran back into the PCT. Mason got maybe a 2 minute head start ahead of Schweppes and I from the water to the trail junction. It was literally just around a single bend in the trail. You only had three options once the side trail hit the junction; go north on the PCT, go south on the PCT, or head back the way you came. Mason obviously didn’t head back, so he either went north or south. The only problem is that if he went south, then he went immediately back into the closed off endangered species zone, and there were signs marking it at the junction. He was no where to be seen at the meeting of the two trails, and all of us always wait at junctions for each other, just to make sure no one misses anything. Since he knew we were literally only feet behind him, he naturally should have been waiting, it’s just what we always do. No Mason. We go north for over a mile and reach a campground with picnic tables, right around noon, when we all usually stop to have lunch. No Mason. Schweppes and I both hike faster than him, and would have surely caught him before the campground, had he gone north. So we wait there for over an hour, thinking that maybe he did go south, and he’ll realize his mistake and double back. No Mason.
We hike the rest of the day and hear no tale or sign of him. Nobody in front of us has seen him, and nobody that catches up from behind has seen him. He’s just gone.
We assume that the only logical thing that could have happened is that he went south, never realized his mistake, kept going until he hit the road where the closure originally started, and either started to back track, or hitched ahead, annoyed with the wasted miles. I have had zero service on my phone all day, so I haven’t been able to contact him or anyone else, but suffice it to say, we’re all very curious to learn what happened to him…
I have a feeling I’ll be carrying Katana tomorrow, and I’m at peace with that reality. One step at a time, we’ll knock out this desert and be on to greener and softer trails. We crossed the 400 mile mark today, so less than 300 miles of desert remain; I can’t wait to put it behind us.
Go to my book, “Racing Winter on the Pacific Crest Trail”