PCT 2019: Day 53, Spanish Needle Creek to Manter Creek

Only he who is running, running, running knows

Descending toward Manter Creek on the PCT

When I mapped out a hiking plan from Tehachapi to Kennedy Meadows, there were a couple of question marks for today’s part of the plan.

I was unsure how far we would want to walk because I knew Gilligan was having trouble with her feet. I also knew camping opportunities were limited. According to the information I found in trail guides, the terrain ahead was exposed and there were only a small number of tent sites with sufficient room to pitch all of our tents.

“Might be possible to go farther, though, due to lighter food load,” I added to my notes for today’s leg of the plan. Now that Gilligan and Captain were not hiking with us, it seemed more likely we’d want to take the farther option.

DateWednesday, May 15, 2019
WeatherCloudy, cool and breezy, then partly cloudy and warmer before becoming cloudy and cool again
Trail ConditionsMostly easy, with long climbs and descents
Today's Miles24.8
Trip Miles694.7

There wasn’t an in-between choice. We could either go about 14.5 miles or go nearly 25 miles. The longer option would mean arriving in Kennedy Meadows sooner tomorrow.

When I collected and filtered water at 7 a.m. and prepared to leave, I still didn’t know for sure I would be up to hiking to Manter Creek. That would be the longest distance I had ever hiked in one day.

Leaving Spanish Needle Creek

The trail left our campsite at Spanish Needle Creek with a short climb of less than 400 feet. A smooth footpath, switchbacks, and cool, cloudy weather made the ascent especially easy.

View into canyon

Once the trail reached near 7,000 feet in elevation, it continued along a ridge for a couple miles.

Rugged mountains

Some rugged mountains appeared ahead, but the trail remained smooth and easy.

The steroid shot I was given in Tehachapi to treat a cough I developed about three weeks ago had not helped at all. In fact, the cough was getting worse and in recent days I’ve had a runny nose.

I’ve enjoyed the desert, but lately, my nose and throat have been miserable.

View of Mojave Desert

Because it wasn’t a clear day, the views weren’t as good today as most days. If it were clear, I might have been able to see the town of Pearsonville, which was on the other side of a ridge in the Mojave Desert. Not that there would have been much to see there if I could.

The town has a population of 17. It was known as the "Hubcap Capital of the World” because of a resident's collection of 80,000 hubcaps, but those are reportedly gone now.

With limited views and the possibility of hiking extra far today, I put on my earbuds to listen to a podcast and pushed on, stopping only for lunch when I reached Chimney Creek. I ate quickly and didn’t collect any water.

A couple miles later I arrived at Fox Mill Spring, where I finally filtered some water. I hadn’t been drinking as much as normal today because of the cool weather.

While I stopped I took a look at the map. I saw just 10.4 miles remained to reach Manter Creek, so I decided to go for it.

I hadn’t seen any tramily members in a long while, but I figured they were making the same decision.

Burnt log next to trail

It was easy to put my head down and power ahead because the views remained mostly uninteresting. There were a number of burnt trees along the way, but not much else that was interesting to see.

Frustratingly, though, there were several false summits. In hiking terms, that means just when you think you’ve reached the top of a climb, you discover there is yet more climbing to go.

View of Sierra Nevada

The climb eventually topped out at 8,000 feet. From there I could again see something interesting: snow-capped mountains in the Sierra. Admittedly, I didn’t see them well because of the clouds, and some of the clouds looked like snowy mountains.

I was grateful for the clouds and cool breeze. Otherwise, this section of trail would have been miserable on a hot day.

Twisted, burnt tree

Except for one, lonely, twisted and burnt tree, here was nothing near the trail to offer any kind of shade.

Creek in view

The descent was easy as it followed a canyon down to where Manter Creek crossed the trail.

View of campsite at Manter Creek

As I neared the bottom of the canyon, I could see where the others had camped. I shouted, “Woohoo!” to let them know I had arrived, but also to celebrate the end of the last full day on the trail.

Last Woohoo Crew campsite

The campsite was flat with plenty of room for our tents, but the soil was so sandy it was difficult to keep tent stakes in the ground. There weren’t many rocks big enough to help anchor the tent guy ropes. With extra effort, I was eventually able to keep my tent pitched without blowing over.

We didn’t linger during our last dinner together on the trail. The evening quickly turned cool and no one wanted to stay outside for long. Later, a brief rain fell.

It’s going to be hard to leave the Woohoo Crew. Still, I can’t wait to get home and see my wife again.

Those two things have been foremost in my thoughts lately. Or I should say, I think about these things when I’m not coughing or clearing my nose.

The best thing about going home will be a chance to get away from the allergic effect the desert has had on me. I need to get well so I can come back and hike the rest of this wonderful trail.

As Hyperion across the flaming sky 
His chariot, chariot, chariot, his chariot did ride
Iphigenia, nia, nia, Iphigenia 
Iphigenia herself in Brooklyn found

And lo, she found herself within a market
And all around her fish were dying
And yet their stench did live on

Dying, dying, dying
And yet in death alive
Dying, dying, dy-y-y-y-ying
And yet in death alive
Die! Die! Die! Die! Die!
And yet, and yet, and yet, and yet, and yet in death alive

And in a vision Iphigenia saw her brother, Orestes
Who was being chased by the Amenities
And he cried out in anguish: ‘Oh, ye gods!
Who knows what it is to be running?
Only he who is running, running, running knows'

Run, run, running knows


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.