Back on the trail…literally

Day 8: Zero at home


Epson salt bath for tired feet

Day 9: (16.3 miles)
mile 111 – 127.3 / 3030ft – 5090ft

So back at it.  Our son dropped us off early Monday near mile 111.  Even though there was a sign sorta pointing in the direction of the PCT, we again needed to get out and use the electric divining rod to get us reconnected to the trail.  It turned out to be a bit south of where we had pulled off adjacent to the bridge.  It was 0730 and the temperature was near 44 degrees so the jackets stayed on, but only for about an hour because it quickly warmed to near 70 degrees.  The terrain was similar to what we encountered in the last few miles before the community center. Oaks and sycamore trees lined the the sandy trail.  We paralleled and made several crossings of the Agua Caliente creek that was running fairly well.  If it had been later in the hike we would have taken the time to bathe and soak our feet in the cool water.  The wooded terrain and sandy soft trail quickly changed to what we refer to now as “ice cream”… Rocky Road ice cream, but absent the ice cream. Up. Up. Up we climbed. Shade becomes infrequent and sought after as the temperature climbs to just over 80 degrees and its only 10am.  It is in stark contrast from what we experienced last week.  So out of the freezer and into the oven we go.  We drink freely from our Camel backs knowing there’s a reliable water source ahead…even if it’s a little brown and tastes funny.  While at the watering hole at mile 120 we find yet another cache and drop our card into it.


Honestly we're not actively looking for these

We also see Alison, and catch up a bit as well as give her a surprise gift we got her at REI…her own titanium cup with a homemade cozy.  She is ecstatic. (She is 22 and recently out of college) We also meet up with Bipolar, and Ryan, a high school friend of our son’s girlfriend.  Since we had some background info on Ryan, Paul decides to “mess” with the kid a bit. When he walks up Paul greets him and says, “Hey aren’t you Ryan from Poway?” Ryan a little puzzled hesitantly replies, “…yes”. Paul continues, “you went to Santa Cruz right?”  Ryan’s friend turns to Ryan and give him a look like ‘this is getting weird’. Paul sensing they’re a little freaked out turns it up a notch and tells them not to “freak” it’s just a “mind thing”, “I kinda have this gift”, to which I decide to play along and add, ” ya, we rarely talk…its kind of annoying “. At this point Bipolar thinks its cool that Paul has this “gift” and Ryan and his buddy are visibly uncomfortable.  Recognizing this, Paul then let’s them in on the joke and tells him how we know of him.  Ryan and his friend laugh and let out a sigh of relief.  In addition to these encounters, and unbeknownst to all of them, I am writhing in horrific pain as my lower back has decided to grace me with uncontrollable muscle spasms.  It happened a little while after I had taken my pack off and while standing had turned and reached into my pack. BAM! I drop like a bag of rocks. Shit. Shit. Shit. Really? Here? Now? Shit. I tell Paul after they move on. ” What do you want to do? Can you walk?” I’m not really sure at this point. Lots of thoughts are racing through my head…mostly, ‘ Are you f#%#-+g kidding me?!’. Determined to “walk” this off, I pop a lone and last muscle relaxer I had squirreled away…just in case. Damn my intuition!  Its 9 miles back to Warner Springs and I’m not ready to surrender, and its only 4 miles to possible campsites and 7 miles to “hiker sanctuary” at Mike Herrera’s.  Were going to Mikes I decide, beside Alison heard there’d be pizza. Anything other than trail food is a great motivator.  After resting for 30 min or so I stand…hmm not so bad. Pack goes on.  This is doable. Grit the teeth. Breathe through the pain…which is remarkably similar to contractions with birthing a child. I can do this. There really are no options other than pushing the SOS button on our Delorme and that is NOT going to happen.  It’s only pain. No one is going to die.  Paul helps by taking my food and my liter bottle of water to reduce the weight of my pack.  It’s up hill most of the way…not surprised.  The scenery is inconsequential and ignored as I keep my eyes on the trail 3 feet ahead of me.  In between series of continuing spasms we march on.  What should of only taken 3 hours takes 5. In joyful agony we reach “Sanctuary”… And then the season finale of Walking Dead flashes through our heads.  Should we continue or walk on?  Peru arrives and raves about the place.  We join Peru.  What the hell, its only a TV show.  We stagger in…me because of my back and Paul because of his pack weight.  Sanctuary it was. We were greeted by Kush, Alison, Bipolar, Joel, Kathy, MaryAnn and Teddy.  We get lucky and don’t have to set up our tent and take refuge in the onsite motorhome. Ah yes a glorious bed, thigh high, so I don’t have to crawl into a tent and sleep on the ground. Dinner and vicodin are soup de jour (yes I have quite an ample stash of vicodin…left over from many of my other injuries from land based activities).  Hoping a rest works it magic.


My angels

Day 10:
Paul (25 miles)
mile 127.3 – 152/ 5090ft -4764ft
Dee (90+ miles via vehicle)
mile 127 – home / 5090ft – 66ft

I finally sleep warm and comfy but once morning breaks I’m unable to get up without debilitating back spasms. Shit.  A plan is hatched with the help of personal Trail Angel, Joel. Paul will continue on his own and we’ll meet up once I’m healed.  Joel will give me a ride back to “civilization” so my son can pick me up and take me home to get fixed. Even though in pain, I had the most enjoyable day with Joel and Teddy. (Teddy had a nasty blister on the bottom of her heel so she was sitting this leg out to allow it to heal properly.  Besides she has nothing to prove as she is the first woman to hike the PCT solo in 1976.  I believe she said she was 49 when she did it.  She had wonderful stories of how it was when she first did the PCT) Joel is an absolute keeper!  He has a heart of gold.  Hopefully I will have the opportunity to “pay it forward” as he has done.


The culprit bladder

…and one more thing. Things happen for a reason. Turns out that just before Paul headed out into the heat of the day, he discovered that his Camel Back bladder had sprung a debilitating leak.  As luck would have it , I wouldn’t be needing mine…and when I got home my Avacado tree was severely dehydrated. So in a convoluted way things worked out.  Better my back goes when nearby home at the beginning of this adventure than in the middle far from help.  God is great…a little quirky in His plan though, but all in all…Life is good.

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10 Responses to Back on the trail…literally

  1. Greg Hanson says:

    What a bummer for Dee. I suppose if you’re going to have problems, best to have them here in the southern mountains where help and support are easily accessible than in the High Sierra or the middle of the desert. I hope you recover and can rejoin your husband soon. Paul, take care of yourself and good luck on the trail.

  2. sandykos says:

    Grab an Ice Cold one you absolutely deserve every gulp.

  3. dforgues1 says:

    Wow Dee. I hope you feel better soon! Since we missed you at mile 100 we left a package for you around mile post 210. My dad has a place out in the desert. At mile 209.5 you will pass under Interstate 10. Then you are in west Palm Springs Village. The stash is in the wood pile that is just inside the front arch. The address…. 13250 Cholla but the front of the house is on Cactus. Its about 2 blocks east of the trail. The house is unique. We left a gallon of water and some treats. Check it out if you need it! Loving the blog. We are traveling along with you!

  4. April says:

    Oh no! Do you need anything?!!! Call me if you do.

  5. Bob Hazelton says:

    Just an FYI, Teddy Boston was the first woman to hike the PCT solo SOBO. She is the volunteer coordinator for the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association. Kathy, MaryAnn and Joel are also SGWA Volunteers.
    I hope your back starts to feel better so you have a chance to enjoy a little corner of our Wilderness before you get to Onyx Summit.
    C’ya on the mountain!

    • I remember her talking about volunteering…I couldn’t remember where. Thanks. All were wonderful people. I hope to see them all again.

    • Jamie says:

      Thanks for the clarification, Bob. It’s my understanding that Carolyn “Ravensong” Burkhart was the first woman to solo thru-hike the PCT, starting in March 1976 and ending on Sept. 29 or 30 at the northern terminus.

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