So far, major sponsors of the PCT include ziplocks, dirty shirts, and sunburnt knuckles. Supports vying for top marks include cheese, the sawyer squeeze filtration system, nuun tabs, and trail magic soda-pop. Fails are the adorable straw hat that disintegrated immediately, my previous assumptions about what I would and would not care about, and all desire to be anywhere but here. I am enamored with everything-especially the baby desert plants and multiple kinds of adorable cactus- even though the weather has ranged from blazing hot to blisteringly cold with ice bombs to 80 km hour winds and rain on top of a mountain with fog obscured views. The desert isn’t acting quite like the desert, but that is the nature of this hike: nothing is as I thought it would be, and that is a good thing. Today I finished section A- 109 miles (!!) and arrived (almost not limping) in Warner Springs. Here is a community festival of mini tents, free mashed potatoes, hot dogs, and saucy beans. People are hiking from all around the world and water is hard to find; we hikers cluster for snack breaks and it feels collegial. It is as if I have entered an entire undiscovered continent of meshed up humanity, not simply a trail.
At dinner there was no salad, but I have been continuing my love affair for vegetables by sneaking zucchini and peppers into my pack so my hankering for town food is shockingly low. Ghislain, my desert hiking partner and i both love old school heavyweight backpack eating. We have so far avoided staples like ramen in favour of cabbage and polenta and as such been affectionately deemed “team buffet” for our glorious explosion of dinner. I am a happy woman but am getting hungry so the days of vitamins over snickers are low.
The landscape is more broad and varied than I expected and I need more adjectives for pretty- we hiked up 12,000 feet in two days and saw everything from giant manzanita trees to obscene pinecones larger than my head to massive dry washes filled with blossoming flowers pink, yellow, burnt orange. I have taken to tucking bouquets in my pack hip belt for good cheer: but honestly at this point its not even necessary. I am sore, but so content.
Next up are the San Jacinto mountains and with them: garborater style appetite, continued rumination on the value of paper vs electronic maps, and the debate every solo-ish hiker runs into: where to stay, and where to go?