Anwen Roberts

Day 18: to Mile 220.5

We slept in that morning and took our time getting ready. Fancypants and Bucket were more proactive and caught a cab back to the trailhead before Rally, Squatchie and I were even out of bed. The rain had stopped and the sun was shining. It was hot enough even by morning that all evidence of last night’s storm had already dried up.

Justa had stayed at Ziggy and The Bear’s that night, so we aimed to meet up with her later that morning. We all decided to hike a short day since we’d pushed ourselves more than twenty miles the previous day.

The three of us walked a block over to the convenience store to resupply. We had to carry four days’ worth of food to our next resupply opportunity in Big Bear. It would be tough to plan since our appetites were growing every day. I was actually kind of worried; I’d stuffed my pack full of food in Idyllwild and nearly ran out in two days. My hunger seemed insatiable, and I could only carry so much.

I loaded up on cookies, chips, popcorn, chocolate, pastries – the highest calorie snacks I could find. I was breaking so many food rules that I felt like I was betraying the part of me that always skipped the snack aisles in the supermarket.

Our food supply replenished, we returned to the trail angels’ house to find Justa. All the other hikers who had been stuck there had already left. It was sunny and warm – and quiet. We spent some time chatting with the trail angels and I raided the hiker box for sun hats. No luck. I’d have to get creative with my bandana.

When the four of us got back on trail it was almost noon. We gathered at the top of a small rise and looked back to the sight of Mount San Jacinto towering over the desert floor. Now free of clouds, we could see the enormity of the mountain we’d climbed and descended. There was snow at the top from last night’s storm. Whoever was still on the peak that night would have had a rough time. We’d heard that a couple of hikers called 911, and that another was still missing.

I sped up a short way ahead of our group when I came across a sun hat lying in the middle of the trail. Real trail magic! It was better than my old hat and fit perfectly. I decided I’d claim it at least until I found its owner.

We entered the wind farm. The noise of the generators reverberated through the valley sounding like spaceships. There was a turnoff to the wind farm office with a sign that said “Water and shade”. I used my trekking pole to write “PT” in the sand with an arrow pointing down the path so that the rest would know where I went.

Near the office was an actual cabana roofed with palm fronds. Inside was a flat of water bottles. When the girls caught up we gathered inside and had lunch and checked our phones. It would probably be the last cell service we’d have for a while. We wrote a thank you note to the wind farm workers and returned to the trail.

I fell behind the group as we went up a brief but steep climb to a small pass out of the valley. Even though my pace was getting faster I was still slow on inclines. Squatchie, on the other hand, was great at them. Despite being nearly a foot shorter than me, I always struggled to keep up with her on climbs.

After the ridge it was all a gradual downhill to Whitewater Creek. We spread out again and I practically flew down the switchbacks to the Whitewater Preserve turnoff. I felt energized and alive. My sinus infection was history and I was getting stronger and healthier every day. Even the desert heat didn’t bother me. I waited for the rest of the group on a shaded rock at the bottom. When we reconvened we decided to split up for the night. Squatchie and Rally wanted to camp at the Preserve, but Justa and I felt like we had a few more miles in us. We said goodnight to the other two and continued on at an easy pace through the rolling terrain.

A mile in we came across a cow carcass on the side of the trail, all sunbleached bone and a partial hide that was still red and lustrous like the cow had died just yesterday.

“Cool,” we both said, taking photos from various angles.

Not long after we reached the creek ford. It was a beautiful open space on the white sandy bank, so we decided to call it a day and set down our packs. I soaked my feet in the cold water while Justa sat against a giant rock and read. The rock itself was maroon coloured with recesses and looked like it belonged in a giant aquarium somewhere. We layed out our sleeping gear next to it, just a few feet from the water.

As the sun set I read through the Kindle app on my iPhone while feeling very sedated by the sound of rushing water next to me. At some point mid-chapter I fell asleep, hand still clutching my phone.

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15 Comments

  1. Reply

    Mitch Lindgren

    May 4, 2015

    Keep on keepin’ on! Your posts are a lot of fun to read.

    I have a minor request – if it’s not too much trouble, it would be cool to see a map of your approximate location at the end of each post.

  2. Reply

    Mitch Lindgren

    May 4, 2015

    Addendum: I guess you’re somewhere northwest of Los Angeles now?

    • Reply

      Anwen

      May 4, 2015

      Yeah – just heading into Wrightwood right now.

  3. Reply

    Maja

    May 5, 2015

    Do you have a trail name yourself, by now? πŸ™‚

    • Reply

      Anwen

      May 5, 2015

      I do – “PT” ☺

  4. Reply

    Jill R.

    May 5, 2015

    Your trail journal is the most fun to read. I am glad you are feeling better.

  5. Reply

    Lacey

    May 7, 2015

    I just started reading your blog yesterday and couldn’t stop till I got to the last entry.. So inspiring and I’m enjoying reading about your journey more knowing it’s something your doing as I’m typing this.. There is a man from my town here in Sedro-Woolley that isn’t too far ahead of you, his name is Ryan.. Here is a link to a post about his journey too so far.. https://m.facebook.com/WoolleyMarket/photos/a.249742341867209.1073741828.195484980626279/450486475126127/?type=1&ref=bookmark

  6. Reply

    Bia

    May 7, 2015

    Love, love your blog. Best PCT blog I found. The way you write is very entertaining. One thing thouhg, when you got your first box and realized you had to much food, didn’t occur to you to mail the same box again to the next ( or a few ahead) pitstops?

    Looking foward to your posts. How are you charging your gadgets? do you have a solar panel?

    • Reply

      Anwen

      May 10, 2015

      Thank you! So, with the first box, I had packed exactly the same food I had set out with from Campo. By the time I reached Warner Springs I was really tired of a lot of it. I already had enough to go to my next resupply point and I knew when I got there I’d be buying all new food anyway.

  7. Reply

    Amanda S

    May 8, 2015

    Unsure if you saw this.! But you were in the article so I thought I’d share.
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/call-of-wild-lures-newbies-to-follow-in-cheryl-strayeds-footsteps-1431039093

  8. Reply

    Robin Marie

    May 9, 2015

    Hi Anwen! Your trail journal is fantastic to read. I am so enjoying sharing in your trail experience through your blogs! Hiking and the outdoors is a passion of mine and I hope to one day take on a trail of such magnificence. You are a great inspiration! Hope all is well with you, wishing you the best, and looking forward to future posts. Take care! πŸ™‚

    • Reply

      Anwen

      May 11, 2015

      Thank you! I’m glad you are enjoying it. The trail is beautiful and will be waiting for you if/when you decide to take it on.

  9. Reply

    Bia

    May 10, 2015

    Hi Anwen, thanks for answering about the box. Poor Rally! Funny I think it was you who mention a lot of women this year on the PCT and I wonder if it was because of Cheryl Strayed book. Now I will check out this link someone post ahead.Did you do a lot of training to take on this trail? I imagine some physical endurance training is pretty welcoming. I’d love to do something like that one day. Happy Trails πŸ˜‰

    • Reply

      Anwen

      May 11, 2015

      I do think the book and movie had a big effect on the number of hikers this year. I think that will also result in a lot of starry-eyed unprepared people dropping out. We’ll see. I’ve met a lot of great people on the trail and so far no one who I believed to be dangerously unprepared. Most people have done their research. If they’re hiking because of Wild, there’s nothing wrong with that as long as they know what they’re getting into.
      Having said that, I didn’t do much to prepare physically. I knew it would be extremely hard and that I’d just have to push through for a while. If you watch the video in the WSJ article there is a clip of me talking about the emotional difficulty of the trail. That’s something you can’t really train for, I think, and for me there have been many days where I’ve struggled more mentally than physically.

  10. Reply

    Bia

    May 11, 2015

    I saw the video and read the article right after I post this. Yes, I agree with you, I also don’t see anything wrong of the movie/book inspiring people. I loved the book and got curious about PCT after that, around 2 years ago. The movie didn’t like as much. I read other day as well about someone asking to be rescued ( using those emergency gps kind thingy- no idea how they called) only after 12 hours on the trail. That is interesting about the mental challenges, I’d fear most the physical ones as well all the critters you could find in the way. But I am sure once you are there and really experience, all things changes perceptive and like you said in other post, you kind focus only on the miles of the day, in the “trail life”.

    Another thing about the article of WSJ that caught my eye is about how many more people are doing the trail this year, and if is this packed if it would change one’s experience of solitude and self-discovery – I mean for those in search of that.

    But I think you are right, and that a lot of people will drop out. Im sure after the half point of the trail the number of hikers left decreases significantly.

    Im really enjoying your blog and I am super curious, so thanks for answering. ( Love the instagram pics too.. )

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