March 5, 2021
Yesterday, because we hadn’t exactly hiked a full day or anything and I wasn’t especially hungry, I just made normal coffee before we hiked out. But today I added the protein mix I brought with me and YUCK! I’m gonna have to change it up or something because I cannot stomach it without some kind of sweetener or something. I mean, I knew my trail diet was going to take some tweaking, so it is what it is, but I struggle to eat solid food early in the morning on trail, so I hiked out with very little in my stomach.
I also didn’t sleep all that well despite being physically exhausted. The pain in my knees kept me awake and the air was so still and silent that every little rustle of woodland life made me jump. Ah, sleeping in the woods. There’s nothing quite like it!
Ghosthiker and I got an early start, hiking out around 7:45am. Taking another lesson from my last hike, I woke early enough to give myself plenty of time to wake up and get myself sorted before we hiked out as soon as it got light enough to do so. Ghosthiker’s headlamp is only bright enough to serve her inside her tent at night, so there won’t be any night hiking for us on this trail. That’s alright.
I had a lot more knee pain today, such that I was actually going pretty slow and sometimes limping. It’s incredibly frustrating because the trail is really easy today – a fairly gentle up and down and not much scree at all, and yet it hurts so much! It’s a sharp pain and makes me nervous. I have some travel-size packets of Deep Blue pain relief cream with me, so that helped for a while. I also took a couple of ibuprofen. I’m trying to avoid taking tons of painkillers straight away for a couple of reasons, but mainly so I don’t numb the pain so much that I can’t recognize if something is seriously wrong and I need to stop.
Just as the pain was getting pretty unbearable, we came to Parker Canyon and Ghosthiker saw a white sprinter van she recognized. Back on the PCT, we met a hiker near Sonora Pass named Sailor and hiked with her for a bit. Apparently, she and Ghosthiker kept in touch and Sailor is slack-packing the AZT this year! She’s just somewhere behind us on the trail and her husband is meeting her at trailheads in a van they renovated for off-grid camping. Neither of us had met Sailor’s husband, but Ghosthiker knew his name and when she called “Pasta Alfredo!” in greeting, he was surprised and thrilled to meet us. He was doing trail magic while he waited for his wife to arrive, so Ghosthiker and I took advantage of the opportunity to rest in camp chairs and eat some of the wonderful snacks he brought out – fruit, cookies, and ice tea! We hoped Sailor would catch up to us there, but after about an hour we knew we needed to get going. It was wonderful to sit and chat with Alfredo, though. It was a tremendous relief to be able to rest my knee for a while and listen to so many stories of Alfredo and Sailor’s adventures!
We hiked another 2 miles to a nice water source, where we met and chatted with a hiker named Big Dale for a bit. I preemptively taped a few little hotspots on my feet, replenished my water, and we set off again. Lots of dry riverbeds and cattle gates to cross, and we’ve seen tons of cows and a squirrel or two but thankfully no snakes. Ghosthiker said she saw some deer when we first set out this morning but she was ahead of me, so I didn’t get to see them. That’s okay. I’ve seen plenty of deer in my lifetime!
We met another hiker along the trail today, Private Idaho from Boise, ID. He seemed surprised to meet someone else who is (technically, if not permanently) from Idaho.
We camped at mile 25.7, at about 5540’ elevation, just before the next saddle. Big Dale passed us as we were setting up camp and said he was going to try to camp on the saddle or just after it. He’s so fast! I left the Parker Canyon water source before Ghosthiker did and she said Big Dale was gonna hang out there for another hour after we left, and yet he’s already caught up to us! Then again, I am going fairly slow due to my knee, and Ghosthiker and I decided from the beginning that we weren’t going to push hard at the start. Plus, there’s really no rush because we can’t pick up our resupply packages in Patagonia until Monday. So, really, our pace is fine. Plus, in addition to my knee pain, Ghosthiker has been having some stomach problems, so slower is better for now.
Something I love about this hike so far is how dry the nights are, which means no condensation! I carried a Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 on the PCT and didn’t have to worry about condensation much because of the great ventilation and the double-wall, but with the Zpacks Altaplex I’m using for this hike (hard to beat that 1.5 lb total shelter weight, stakes included!), I have to be careful about condensation. The lack of space inside is also a bit of a challenge, but I rather like it. I can’t do yoga in my tent like I could in the Big Agnes, but that and a few other minor inconveniences are small prices to pay in my opinion. I bought the Altaplex used, so we’ll see how it holds up. So far so good.