March 9, 2021
Another cold night. Makes me extremely glad I decided to bring my 0-degree quilt on this hike. While compiling my gear prior to departure, I remembered how freezing I always was during that first week or two on the PCT in the desert, and I didn’t want to end up in that situation again.
Last night was rough, though. I laid down to go to sleep around 7:00pm, then around 8:00pm I sat up to blow my nose and suddenly felt wetness all over my face. I quickly grabbed my headlamp to see what the hell was happening and found blood dripping all over my quilt. My nose was bleeding all over the place! I used lots of my precious toilet paper trying to stem the flow and plug my nose, as well as my carefully filtered water to try and clean all the blood off my face and quilt. It was a mess. I didn’t lay back down and try to sleep until after 9:00pm. I woke up again shortly after 10:00pm, then again around 11:30pm. Then I woke up fully at 2:30am and never went back to sleep.
I laid there in the dark willing my brain to shut off and my body to relax, but it was no good. By 4:20am I gave up and deflated my air mattress. We were both ready to hike by 5:30am but it was still dark, so we did lots of stretches while we waited for the sky to get a little lighter.
We were still hiking along a wide dirt road, so we walked side-by-side and chatted, unaware that there were a few other hikers sleeping nearby until we came right upon their tents! It was Private Idaho and his girlfriend Kayla. We felt really bad for possibly waking them up, so we kept our voices very low after that.
The road climbed almost immediately from our campsite and then dropped down to Walker Basin trailhead (lots of people camped here, including 8Track and Deacon) where there was water in a stone pool, but you had to climb some rocks to get to it. Ghosthiker needed to collect some but I knew there was a big climb ahead of us, so I opted to wait until Bear Spring. After wasting water trying to clean up my bloody nose mess last night, I knew I’d be rationing my water on the climb, but my knee was still hurting and I didn’t want the extra weight.
The climb was ridiculously steep. It almost felt like rock climbing and reminded us both of hiking in the Sierra on the PCT. A steep uphill climb on scree and large rocks for about a mile followed gentle switchbacks down the other side.
During this section, Ghosthiker and I talked a lot about why we like to hike long trails like this, and we came to the conclusion that our reasons are pretty similar. It’s a mixture of both physical and mental things for both of us, but a lot of it is the escape from the hustle and stress of the Front Country, and a desire to prove to ourselves how far we can push our minds and bodies.
We got to Bear Spring by 9:30am! Pretty good timing, considering the steep climbs. Here, we took a short break and ate some snacks while we filled our water at the big basin. After that, we went another few miles to Tunnel Spring Trailhead at mile 70, the last water before Kentucky Camp. We took a nice long break here and had an early lunch.
After that, the trail carried us along a high, wide ridge with views all around. The grade was gentle and made for easy hiking and quick mileage, but it got super windy and overcast and the clouds looked ominous enough that we put on our wind/rain jackets for a while. Then, of course, the sun came out and it got warm, so we had to de-layer again. Classic. Ghosthiker said I was hiking fast today and seemed happy that my knee is feeling better.
We got to Kentucky Camp but there was no one there. I guess it’s too early in the season for tourists. It felt kind of eerie, honestly. Kentucky Camp is a historic sight with lots of old buildings set up like a sort of museum. Even though there were no staff or visitors, the main building was unlocked and Guthooks said the people who run the camp welcome hikers to charge their devices and use the pit toilets and sink out back, which we definitely did. Even though we just did laundry in Patagonia, it’s amazing how quickly your socks get caked with dirt and sand on this trail. I rinsed my dirty pair quite thoroughly and attached them to the back of my pack to dry while we hiked on. We were also able to fill our water bottles and dispose of our trash in the bins, which is always a blessing. The wind is fierce today, so we took advantage of the open visitors center to enjoy a nice, long break indoors and out of the wind. Thanks, Kentucky Camp!
A little while after we arrived, other hikers began to appear. Some were thru-hikers and some were day hikers, and the thru-hikers were looking for outlets to charge their devices. Our stuff was mostly charged, so Ghosthiker and I decided to finish up our break and hike on, not only to allow others to use the outlet but to start looking for a place to camp for the night. It’s important that we find a campsite out of this wind because we both have fragile Zpacks tents, so we want to stay ahead of the crowd today. Like I said, there are no waypoints on Guthooks telling us where there might be places to camp, so we just have to keep hiking and hope for the best.
We had to hike up a dirt track away from Kentucky Camp, so of course, the wind only got worse the higher up we went and we were forced to keep hiking even as the sun was starting to go down. It wasn’t long before the trail started sloping gently down again, but it was still very windy and kind of stressful because there were some notes on Guthooks about possible campsites but no guarantees they’d be sheltered enough from the wind. I really don’t want to have to cowboy camp in this weather, especially since it looks like it might rain.
Ghosthiker read of a “great” campsite about 2.6 miles from Kentucky Camp, so we passed by some other sketchy sites in search of the one alleged “great” one. Turns out Ghosthiker’s gut can be trusted. The site we found seems pretty sheltered so far.
We did 17.4 miles today and have officially completed 10% of the trail. Our biggest day yet!! Woot!