More crazy-vivid dreams, about a “The Departed” style man-who-is-me inside the mob attempting to evade detection. My alarm goes off, I snooze it, and I switch perspectives; I’m the mob boss’s daughter now, and having been put in a room with other “traitors” and told only one is leaving, I find a key and let everyone go and berate my mob boss father for doing what he does. My alarm goes off again before I reap any consequences.
Today is McDonald’s day! We’ve been talking about the McDonald’s at Cajon Pass, 0.4 miles off-trail, since before Deep Creek Hot Springs1, and I have 15.5 miles left to get there. I’m one of the first ones up – I’ve been warned this stretch can be hot and miserable, and I’m trying to avoid that as much as possible. But dat sunrise, tho.
There’s a beautiful layer of cloud hovering about once I get moving, sheltering and protecting me as I curve around the lake, enjoy the morning’s views.
And then there’s the campground most people were aiming for – probably couldn’t’ve made it anyway – and I walk along a bike path and under a highway until the trail turns back into trail again.
And then, it’s up up up through the green, with beautiful views of the lake through the clouds.
I leapfrog with Nightcrawler through the ups – it’s just so pretty, and between the writing I’m doing and the miles I’m making, I’ve been feeling something missing. So I take time to just look at the views. Just look. Run my eyes over the landscape like it’s a lover, or at least beloved. It’s a peaceful exercise, and it helps bring my mind back to the present, to being. They say it takes 21 days to get used to anything, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to this.
And then, the saddle! Bye Silverwood Lake!
Down and around the hills – such a different landscape on the other side! – and there’s V-Dub, and she’s gone again once I stop for a bathroom break.
The trail passes under some power lines, and then starts climbing again. I’m a little fussy about it, but the trail knows what it’s doing. Just trust.
I’m on top of the world, or it feels like it – highway in the distance, earth stretched out before me. The wind and water have drawn grooves in the cliffs, home to bird- and other life forms. It’s a special landscape, and one I spend a little time with before moving on.
It’s suddenly blustery, but only on one side of the ridge, and when I get to keyhole the wind jokes with me by pushing me and everything else around.
Down down down, along a ridge that looks better suited for mountain bikers; down some more until my feet can’t handle it and I have to sit. 0.6 miles in 15 minutes, and I will have done 15 by noon – on track for timing for a 30-mile day2, not that I’m ready for that. But my legs demand tribute, so sitting it is.
Said legs were too cantankerous to put my sitting pad down, so when I stand my butt comes up covered in seed pods that will not be removed with a brush of the hand3. Nightcrawler comes across me picking at my ass; I don’t know what she thinks, but she laughs when I explain myself.
Those last six-tenths of a mile provide some gentler downs, and my first horny toad spotting. It’s over too quick for me to snap a picture, but I’m happy that such pointy, waddle-y animals exist.
Wandering along a sluggish, sketchy creek, then suddenly, the highway!
And miles to Canada!
And exciting signage!
I race the tiny roadwalk to air conditioning and cheap, hot food; order an egg mcmuffin and two hash browns and a large fry and a Dr. Pepper the approximate volume of my brainpan. Chat with hikers – run into a guy I haven’t seen since mile 1, finally meet Big Salad Puma, another black man on trail – charge things. Go back to the counter to order a Mcflurry. And again for a medium fry.
I want to make more than 15 miles today, so I decide to go another 5, into Swarthout Canyon. Guthook’s says there are 5 tentsites there, but when Guthook’s says that, it usually means closer to 12. A commenter on the app says it too, though, so since most folks are aiming for there I start to get nervous the more people leave. So I’m up and at it, too, going to the Chevron for snacks before heading off.
I sing a silly song as I make my way under the underpass4, start to haul ass up the hill as I hear people behind me – I want one of those sites, so I’m barely stopping, flying along the trail. I see what I believe to be poodle dog bush off trail, and make a mental note of it.
I pass a person or two, including Steffen, who paces me as we arrive – to near-on a dozen tentsites, of course. Womp womp.
I set up near Rain Man, offer Steffen my extra stake when one of his breaks, pitch properly into the wind for the evening, assuming the direction doesn’t change. The three of us stand around talking about gear until we all get hungry again and rustle for our food bags and our beds.
Start: 326.4 • End: 347.2 • Day: 20.8
Notable Accomplishments: Almost did 15 before noon • Was not violently ill at McDonald’s • Managed to get out for 5 post-McDonald’s miles
 Because food trumps comfort these days.
 10 miles by 10am, 20 miles by 2pm, is how that wisdom goes.
 These grasses and other plants out here, fr srs – their seed pods are tenacious bastards, always getting stuck in shoes and on fabric. A good, if annoying, propogation method.
 Sketchy freeway underpass! This is the PCT!
…doesn’t really translate well to text. Also, it was actually super clean in there. 3-star hiker accommodation. (Only 3 because it’s a wind tunnel.)