PCT Day 39: Crawling to Canada

May 27, 2022

Campsite at mile 585.8 to Landers Meadow Spring at mile ~608.9

23.1 miles

I wake up groggy, slow, and wanting nothing less than to stay in bed and sleep for twelve more hours. And that pretty much predicts how the day goes.

The morning is easy downhills and ridge cruising with DLT. I walk with him until he dives into the woods for a cathole. Then, even though the next bit is relatively level (though fairly uninteresting) ridge lines along windmill-dotted hills, I still feel like every step is a struggle. I spot Petra pulled over on the side of the trail, and I join her, shoving some chip drink and bars in my mouth in hope that they will give me an energy boost. They don’t, but soon Rob and DLT come along. DLT breaks open and shares a pack of Kendal mint cakes his family sent from home. It is pretty much solid sugar, and it propels me for about a mile.

We walk together for a bit, talking about animals, then when it gets hot I hear DLT right behind me and I can tell he’s in power uphill mode. I let him pass. Soon after that we’re going up a hot and dusty hill, and I’m absolutely dying so I put on some music. I don’t make it very far before I have to pull over in a lovely shady campsite to dig a hole, stretch, eat more food, and filter water. I feel so tired. What is wrong with me? I could lay down right here and sleep for a year.

Catless comes to join me, and we sit and chat for a minute. Then I let him go ahead because I know I will be slower than everyone today. I finally start going up the first of two extremely steep climbs for the day. The first one is agony. I have to count every step. I hardly make it to 100 each time before stopping and sucking in deep breaths of air. Shit. This is not a good sign for the Sierras. Am I just going to be this tired now? How long will it take me to crawl through those mountains?

Catless taking a photo of a huge horny toad!

At the saddle between the two hills, I sit for another minute and drink some electrolyte water and eat yet another bar. Come on, Passport. You can do this. I start up the hill, step step step. It’s steep, but I’m feeling okay. So okay, in fact, that I think I can put on one of my favorite albums, Father of the Bride by Vampire Weekend, and get lost in the music. Something kicks in and I feel better. Yes, finally! I rocket up the rest of the hill.

When it finally starts to go downhill, I spot Petra on a rock. “Best lunch spot ever!” she calls to me. She says we’re so close to 600 miles. I don’t want to lose my rhythm, so I go ahead. I hit the end of the downhill and turn up again, this time on an underwhelming dirt road. I start to fantasize seeing the 600 mile marker. Is that DLT? No, it’s just a log. Is that him? No, it’s a shadow. Is that the 600 marker? No, it’s a pile of sticks. Come on. How can 0.3 miles feel this long.

Finally, finally, I see a shock of blond hair and an orange foam pad hiding behind a tree. Then I see a pile of rocks on the road that form a 600. Six hundred miles!

I have hardly any water left from that insane carry and I’m starving because I haven’t eaten lunch yet, but I’m still amazed we’ve gotten this far. I plop down in the minimal shade next to DLT. Petra joins, then Rob. We take low-energy photos with the mile marker, then start hiking uphill two miles on the road to Robin Bird Spring, the first water source we’ve seen all day.

So many hikers are sitting around at the spring when we get there. I trudge up to the water and get a few liters, then drink one, and then take a power nap. I wake up with a start when DLT calls my name. I feel so rested even after just a few minutes. Maybe that’s all I needed!

We have seven more miles to the campsite we’re shooting for. Apparently this is where Andy and Beetle are going too. DLT and I start up the hill together, and then we realize it’s going to be very slow. It’s just one of those nights. After the uphill it’s a nice ridge and then, out of nowhere, a beautiful conifer forest with needles all over the ground between boulders. We catch up to Catless and then cruise a smooth three miles. This feels like a different trail now. It feels very Sierra-ish. It smells like mountain and high elevation and I feel peaceful here in this light with my friends.

I probably should have guessed that this would be the case, but when we roll into the Landers Meadow Spring campsite and Andy and Beetle are in fact not there, I’m upset. I just don’t understand why anyone would pass up this campsite under huge pines, with the most beautiful water source I have seen in a long time, in service of getting three more miles done. I especially don’t understand why anyone would choose not to stay here when Spice tells us that there is going to be breakfast trail magic in the morning: coffee and biscuits and gravy, my favorite. We call it a day and set up our tents on the soft pines and cook dinner together. I’m excited to sleep in this peaceful place and wake up to magic in the morning.

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