Day 21: (18.7 miles)
mile 268.7 – 287.4 / 6878 ft – 6430 ft
Happy Easter! Today was pretty easy miles…mostly flat and a gorgeous day to hike.
We had a slight breeze, maybe 2 mph and temps no warmer than mid 70’s. We hiked through high pines and burnt out hillsides and then down into a river canyon strewn with boulders, pines and we think maybe poodle dog bush. (Poodle dog bush is supposed to be 10 times worse than poison oak and grows in burn areas).
One would think the burned area would be stark and devoid of visual stimuli but it was not. We found ourselves comparing trees and their response to the fire.
Why one would expire and another would survive. And why some that apparently survived later succumbed and parked themselves directly across the trail. Ah yes, the things we think about.
Traffic on the PCT was semi congested compared to days past when we’d rarely see anyone. The group we saw several days earlier caught up with us at mile 275. (Van Dusen Canyon Dr, 2.8 miles to Big Bear City) “Why Not” is hiking with that group (she did the PCT in 2009). We also met “Wet Burrito” who had two different shoes on and “Dainty Fingers” from Bend Oregon…I’m sure there’s a good story behind the name but didn’t ask why he took that trail name. And best of all, just as we were about to start up again after a quick break, who should wander up but “Big Easy” and “Bull Dog II”. We thought when we left Mt. Laguna in the blizzard that we wouldn’t see them again. What a treat! It was fun to catch up with them a bit and share some trail stories. Alas we would not see them for long as they were heading into town for a Nero and a Zero. Once we started back up, we could have kicked ourselves for not getting a group photo of us all. We vowed that the next time we met up and talked with a PCT hiker we would take their picture. Not 5 minutes after we were on the trail we ran into a SOBO section hiker ” Bonanza” from North Carolina. We chatted for nearly an hour sharing trail notes… What we should expect and what he should expect over the next 50 miles or so. “Bonanza” has been working on completing sections of PCT since 2009 from what “Why Not” said , and who she had met in 2011 when she did the John Muir Trail. (Why Not is a Triple Crowner) The PCT community is connected in so many unlikely ways. What are the chances you meet up with someone from 4 years ago while walking the PCT in opposite directions? Before we continued, I took “Bonanza’s” picture and gave him one of our blog cards.
We continued on as “Bonanza” and “Why Not” had some catching up to do. Along the way we met two more thru hikers, “Arizona”, who’s on a “walkabout” and “Willey” (there’s more to his trail name, but I can’t remember), he’s a Lifeguard for Ventura County and is only able to section hike until Memorial Day. We hiked with them for a while till the end of the day when we stopped and they continued on for another 5 miles. I was toast and didn’t want to wreck myself as things were going so swimmingly. The sun has set. Dinner has been consumed.
We touched base with friends, family and our kids via the DeLorme. We are on this sandy knoll well above the slowly meandering Holcomb Creek to avoid the morning dew, and the darkening sky is filling with stars. We are truly blessed.