April 20, 2021
Ghosthiker was awake and moving around at 4:00am this morning. She was also awake and moving around three hours before that, but that’s neither here nor there. I laid in my tent mentally willing her to go back to sleep, but it was not to be, so at 4:15am I started getting up. I’m normally hurrying to be ready to go when Ghosthiker is ready, but I just wasn’t feeling it this morning, so I took my time. I let her pack up and leave before me, but I caught up to her soon enough.
We have about 18 miles of relatively flat dirt road walking today, which is good because Ghosthiker said she wants to do like 24 miles or something today in order to camp at a water source and not have to carry. That’s honestly fine with me. If the terrain is nice and we can do it, I’m happy to do a big mile day to not have to carry water. At least it wasn’t as cold last night as it was the night before, so I didn’t have to use one of my two remaining handwarmers since my other two were expired and didn’t work. Carrying used hand warmers is bad enough – carrying hand warmers that never worked to begin with just kind of sucks, lol.
Since Ghosthiker was way ahead of me, I spent the morning hiking and autopilot and listening to music. I was so lost in my own head I was kind of startled when I rounded a bend and there was a trailhead with parked cars, some people doing trail magic, and Ghosthiker shedding her pack for a break. I’d hiked 9.5 miles without stopping or even really thinking about it! Then I looked at the trail angels and realized it was Thumper! She’d finished the trail about a week prior, and now she and her boyfriend Yeti were doing some trail magic before they had to take off for jobs and other Front Country things. They had water, soda, snacks…all kinds of stuff, but I mostly ate out of my pack just to lighten my load. We had an early lunch because Thumper and Yeti offered to take our trash for us. Being thru-hikers, they understand the need to shed any and all unnecessary weight, and any opportunity to safely unload trash is always welcome.
After that lovely break, the terrain opened up even more and we were on the long, 18-mile stretch of dirt road walk. It was really windy and still kind of chilly even though the sun was hot. We had great views of the San Francisco Peaks behind us and spent the first few miles walking side-by-side and chatting, which is always nice.
4 miles from the trailhead where we met Thumper and Yeti, there was a ranch tank. Ghosthiker had already said she wasn’t going to stop there, but I wanted to make sure I was drinking enough water, so I stopped and chugged half a liter and then replaced it with water from the tank. After that there was a short, steep climb, and then more wide, flat road walking. We took a break at the top of the hill under a solitary tree, then hiked on. Let me tell you, finding places to go to the bathroom was a serious challenge on this stretch. There was just no cover whatsoever!
Once the trail turned back into an actual trail, we had to take a detour and bushwhacked a little to the Wildlife Tank water source. It was 5:00pm by then and we were both pretty tired and wind-beaten, so we started looking for a place to camp. Crossed paths with Bass as he was heading to the water source.
We found a really nice area in a sort of small, sheltered valley, but the ground was too soft and Ghosthiker was having a really hard time getting her stakes to stay in. No rocks to be had to keep them down, either. I already had my tent pitched and my stakes seemed fine, so I opted to stay while she hiked on a little ways to find somewhere to pitch.
Camping alone is eerie after almost 50 days of camping with the same person. I don’t think I like it very much. It turned out for the best, though, because my mysterious abdominal pain flared up pretty badly this evening, several times in a row. That’s never happened. It’s definitely disconcerting but there’s not much I can do about it. I think I’ve mentioned this issue before. It happens every once in a while (no idea what triggers it), and once while I was hiking the PCT it happened while I was sitting with Jay (of Jay Wanders Out on YouTube) taking a break. Worse than the crippling pain is having to wave away people’s concern and assure them that even though it looks like I might be dying, I’m actually fine. Then, once it’s passed, I have to calmly explain that it’s something I’ve been dealing with for years and, yes, I’ve seen a doctor (several) and had tests done (several) but to no avail. It’s seriously fine. I’ve learned to live with it.
Anyway, I was glad no one was around to see the ugly thing my face does when this pain hits me. It eventually went away like it always does. A few other hikers passed my tent before it got dark out, but I was tucked into the trees so no one saw me. We did 23.7 miles today, not including all the extra walking for water. I think that’s our biggest day yet on this trail.