The rain that began to fall last night before midnight ended around 3 a.m. I know this because I kept waking up throughout the night. When you’re sleeping in a tent with paper-thin walls, you know immediately when the weather changes.
Rain began to fall again at 5:45 a.m.
|Date||Saturday, May 11, 2019|
|Weather||Foggy and intermittently rainy with a high temperature in the mid 50s|
|Trail Conditions||Long, gradual climbs and descents; footpath is occasionally muddy|
Once I decided it was time to get up and prepare to leave, rain was still lightly falling. By this time, my quilt was damp. I wasn’t sure if this was due to condensation or if my tent had a leak.
When I was set to go at 7:00, Rainbow Sherbet was the only other person in our group who was also ready. Everyone else was still in their tents.
The rain had diminished by the time we left, but a heavy mist continued to fall. Silent windmills and burnt trees could be faintly seen through the mist, giving the trail an eery feeling.
Visibility didn’t improve much in the morning because the mist never completely let up.
The trail made a couple moderate climbs, but the rest of the trail was easy.
Aside from Rainbow Sherbet, who soon got well ahead of me, I didn’t see many hikers on the trail. Falls passed me, but he was the only member of the tramily to do that.
A couple of hikers we had begun calling “the Oregon boys” also passed me.
While I didn't see people, I saw a plant I had not noticed before. It was a wild cucumber, also known as marah, manroot or old man in the ground.
The fruit is said to be bitter, which explains how it came to be called “marah.” The term comes from the name in Exodus 15:22 where the Israelites first found water after crossing the Red Sea, “They could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter.”
Marah are part of the gourd family. Of the six varieties, five are native to California and two are not found anywhere else.
After starting at just over 4,700 feet in elevation, the trail made a gradual climb to above 6,000 feet. Trees were more plentiful at the higher elevation, though they had been charred by a wildfire.
The trail continued three miles along the top of a ridge, then dropped down to Hamp Williams Pass. It then climbed again to go by but not over Weldon Peak, which stood at 6,320 feet.
The views here would have been nicer if the sky had been clearer. Scattered along the way were boulders, some of which made nice spots to sit. I sat on one to take a short break and send a text message to Kim.
Later I stopped at another rock to eat lunch.
At 2 p.m. I passed a mileage marker written in pine cones and with an exclamation mark. I had now walked 600 miles. By the end of the day I would have less than 100 miles to go to finish the desert portion of the PCT.
About a mile farther were two cows standing near the trail. They had a menacing look, as though they didn’t appreciate intruders onto their land. Despite their apparent annoyance, they didn’t make a move to defend their turf and I was able to walk by without further provocation.
A mile past them was Robin Spring. It was the only reliable water source since Golden Oaks Spring yesterday. The day had been so damp I wasn’t yet out of water, so I decided I didn’t need to stop. I knew our intended campsite was near a stream.
When I reached the campsite, Rainbow Sherbet was the only one there. She told me Falls had decided to keep hiking with the Oregon boys. We wondered if maybe we wouldn’t see him again.
The campsite wasn’t a Forest Service campground, but it looked like locals often drove up here to camp. I found broken glass all over the campsite and picked up a large pile of it to clear some space for our tents.
The rest of of the Woohoo Crew arrived about 45 minutes later. Rain began to fall a short time after that, so I cooked dinner in my tent's vestibule.
When the rain let up again I decided to hang my food bag. Glass wasn’t the only thing I found scattered around the campsite. I had also discovered some bear scat.
No one else hung their food, which wasn’t surprising. Though almost everyone did on the Appalachian Trail, almost no one has done it so far on this trail.
Of course, hanging a bear bag isn’t usually practical or necessary in the desert. Nevertheless, seeing evidence of a bear being in the neighborhood made me think a little extra precaution was worth the effort.
And I will stroll the merry way
From “Sweet Thing” by Van Morrison
And jump the hedges first
And I will drink the clear
Clean water for to quench my thirst
And I shall watch the ferry-boats
And they'll get high
On a bluer ocean
Against tomorrow's sky
And I will never grow so old again
And I will walk and talk
In gardens all wet with rain
Oh sweet thing, sweet thing
My, my, my, my, my sweet thing
And I shall drive my chariot
Down your streets and cry
'Hey, it's me, I'm dynamite
And I don't know why'
And you shall take me strongly
In your arms again
And I will not remember
That I even felt the pain.
We shall walk and talk
In gardens all misty and wet with rain
And I will never, never, never
Grow so old again.