PCT Day 4: Unplanned Zero

April 22, 2022

Campsite at mile 47.7 to Julian via hitch on Sunrise Highway

0 miles

Yet another night of hardly any sleep. This time it was because of the wind, rain, sleet, and now hail that pummeled the tent all night. It’s still standing when we wake up, amazingly, but it is a precarious pitch.

We don’t make an effort to get up. The forecast says that the rain will stop mid-morning, so the plan is to wait for that. One of the tent stakes rips out of the ground at last. Andy gets out to fix it, and as he does, we hear Petra’s voice outside in the wind. “Can I come in with you?” she asks, sounding cold. She piles in the tent with us, shivering violently. It’s concerning. Like, pre-hypothermic concerning. We squish our pads together and put her between us, sharing sleeping bags and listening to more Fellowship of the Ring as the wind and rain keep pummeling us.

Eventually, the wind gets so bad that the tent stakes won’t stay in the ground. We decide we’ve had enough. Screw hiking, we’re hitching into Julian two days earlier than planned. We pack up our gear as quickly as we can, Andy extricates the puddle from the floor of my tent, and we hike up to the road. Two cars pass, and the second picks us up. It’s driven by a guy whose name also happens to be Andy. He is super nice, driving us all the way into town and asking us about our hike, all without accepting money for gas. Thanks, Andy!

After breakfast at the Miner’s Diner

In town, we eat breakfast and drink hot drinks at the Miner’s Diner. It is divine. Next we move to Mom’s Pies, which is famous among hikers for giving a free slice of pie and drink when you show your PCT permit.

Then we make a much-needed trip to 2 Foot Adventures, the local outfitter. It’s only one small room, but they have the most impressive hiking-specific inventory of gear I’ve ever seen. Petra and I buy some super nice Montbell rain pants since we didn’t have any before and were a little scarred by the weather this morning. They have the added bonus of making a high-pitched fart sound when one squats down. We have a lot of fun with this when we discover it.

We sit in the coffee shop Regulars Wanted until they close, trying to get in touch with the trail angel Becky, who lets hikers camp in her yard. We have trouble getting through until Andy calls her and confirms a pickup in front of the market. Becky’s niece comes to get us not long after and takes us to the house. There are lots of dogs, cats, and wild turkeys meandering around. I can hear the gobbles from my tent.

How to identify a hiker-friendly town

The shower feels absolutely divine. We put in a load of laundry and dry our gear out in the yard. My tent is actually in pretty good shape considering what it went through last night, though my sleeping pad is looking rough. We sit around in our rain gear talking and playing with puppies until we can’t stay awake any longer and finally head to our tents for bed. It’s so good to be clean for a little while, but I’m excited to go back to the trail tomorrow.

Puppies!

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