Trail miles: 16
Total miles walked: 18.3
Number of horned lizards seen: 2
Number of exceptionally pretty flowers seen: countless
Night hiking is popular in the current heat, and I don't mean just early starts like we're getting. Three chaps passed the tent at 1.30 this morning. Given that we were pitched so close to the trail that we were practically on it, we said hello as they went by.
Other than that very minor disturbance, I had a fantastically good night's sleep for the 6 hours that it lasted. We didn't get a particularly early start, though, because the starting plan was that we would walk just 10 miles (8 trail miles and a 2-mile detour) this morning, over to the house of some trail angels, the Andersons, which is apparently a can't-miss experience. We would then wait out the heat of the day there before walking another 8 miles this afternoon. That would leave us with a need to get into Lake Hughes in the morning to buy a few supplies, which would mean a late start tomorrow.
It was gloriously cool for the first hour and a half of the day and we made good progress, with just a few faffs. In fact, such good progress did we make that we were at the road to the Trail Angel's house at 8.20. That would have left us with 8 hours before we could set back out again, whereas it struck us that we had enough 'not silly-hot' hours left to make it over the next hill. We ummed and arred, detoured to a ranger station just along the road to top up our water, and opted to skip the Andersons house.
It was a good decision. The early hour meant that we were shaded at times on our way up and, comparing it to yesterday afternoon, I couldn't believe how quick and easy the 1000' ascent was.
Marvelling again at the immense variety of wild flowers as we went (Martin - Sue would be stopping every few paces for a flower photo), we didn't just make it to the top, but all the way down to the road to Lake Hughes. 16 miles covered by noon.
I would very much have liked to pause on the way down for a decent break, but flies were being the bane of our day, and as soon as we stopped in any shade we were set upon. All of the other people we met made the same comment.
Needing to go into Lake Hughes, and not wanting to walk the 2.3 miles in the midday sun, we tried our luck at hitching, but in the 20 minutes we waited only 8 cars passed and we couldn't help but think that we could have walked there before we got a lift. It was another good decision as only 3 more cars passed us on our way.
The pub in Lake Hughes is a biker hang-out, so it was full of Hell's Angels, but we were met with a friendly reception and the food was good and plentiful. They also have rooms and I confess that part of our plan in going to town was to take a room in a quest for a good night's sleep. Their 3 rooms were available, but they are right above the bar and being Saturday night they have live music on until 1.30am. That didn't seem compatible with an early night for a 3am start.
The shop was our next stop for a few supplies, and then we needed to get back to the trail - and with me struggling so much with tiredness and the heat, I really *really* couldn't face the walk. So, I accosted a woman coming out of the shop and asked if she was going our way. She wasn't, but said she would take us anyway. What a saviour!
What I didn't know when I begged the lift was that her son (9 years old) was asleep in the back. He didn't wake up until I was installed next to him, with my pack on my lap. The look of horror on his face to wake up and find a complete stranger next to him was priceless. I'm giggling again at the thought.
Back at the trail, we found Orney, Snowflake, Waffle and someone whose name I can't remember (we also found the cache to be dry, making us pleased to have filled up all of our containers in town). They were surprised to see us, as they'd also been here when we passed through a few hours earlier.
We sat around chatting until at 6pm they set out for their final 8-mile stint. Five minutes later, we had the tent pitched, where we are now installed. Bedtime is at 7.30 tonight, so I'd best prepare some tea (cheese and crackers, so not much preparation).
(As an aside: most PCT hikers are, of course, male. When hitching they like to pair up with a women where possible, as drivers tend to stop more readily for a woman. Such women are known as 'ride brides' (although Mick thinks it should be 'hitch bitch'). Alas, he came to realise today that I may not be useful to him as a hitch bitch, as this morning he was asked if I was his son. Seems that the pretty blue (and now very grubby) low-cut blouse isn't having the desired 'I'm a girl!' effect to counter the short hair and absence of curves!)
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