There’s a whole host of regular occurances when hiking the trail. I wanted to write about a few, which seem to crop up multiple times per day.
1. LOOKING UP (Every now and then)
We spend approximately ten to twelve hours a day just looking at the floor, minding we don’t step on that wonky rock or one of its million cousins out on trail. So much so that we forget to look up and appreciate the whole reason we decided to hike the trail in the first place.
As there’s a fair bit of gradient and edges to worry about, it’s only when our lungs or feet are truly wiped out that we decide to take a break and look around. Fortunately, it always makes for a spectacular view out here.
We’re beginning to learn though. Looking up definitely keeps you motivated to climb or hike on that little bit further. When camping in the evening you really do appreciate where you are, but you can often forget it when you first wake up, get your first few miles in and begin whining about your pains. There needs to be some kind of message stuck to the end of our shoes, which reminds us to explore as well as hike.
2. TREKKING POLE DRAMAS
There once was a Lizard called Richard, who dug holes EVERYWHERE on the PCT. Along came a hiker called Ryan, who was bombing it along the trail. Ryan had been working on his newfound trekking pole technique and decided to pick up the pace. This didn’t last for long thanks to Richard.
When you’re hiking the Southern California section of the PCT, you’ll find hundreds of lizard or ant holes around each bend. When you accidentally put your pole into one it either drags you back, swings you around OR just stays put whilst you hike on. This happens a silly number of times a day for me unless I’m fully concentrating. It’s always a bit worrying when this happens on a narrow edge… luckily the trekking poles (www.palisadegear.com) are tough!
3. MILES IN THE AFTERNOON
We’re all lazy sods. Getting up super early and pumping out a gruelling 15+ mile climb before lunch at around 12.30 (it’s unpleasurably/dangerously hot between then and 3PM, so we take a break).
After lunch we generally act either super motivated or reiterate our desire to just limp to a suitable camping spot. Whichever way we feel, it only determines how soon we complete our inevitable 5-7 mile afternoon before reaching camp.
4. HORSE CRIME SCENES
Fear not, animal lovers, we don’t see five literal horse crime scenes a day. What we do see are several incidents of semi-fresh horse manure. This would seem perfectly normal to anyone who hasn’t hiked this trail, as it’s an equestrian trail (or so the PCTA say).
What we don’t see are actual horses themselves. It’s like the mystical horse ghost comes out at night just to leave us a few smelly surprises for when we’re already desperately gasping for air.
I struggle to fathom how one horse can get down some sections, let alone the thought of one coming either direction at eachother! Anyone with vertigo would be losing it.
5. NEW INTERACTIONS
This is and will likely continue to be my favourite part about the Southern section of the trail (before people begin dropping off and spreading out). Each day we meet a few more people, who could be thru-hikers, day hikers, section hikers or trail angels. It’s great!
This part is likely to fade away as we get further along. We’re likely to have long stretches where we’re alone or only see the odd person as we get up to Oregon and Washington. Hopefully I’m wrong though!
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