The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Friday 20 July 2012

PCT In Photos: Week 2

After eight days in the desert, suddenly on the morning of Day 9 we found ourselves walking through grassy grazing land. There was evidence of cows, although we didn’t see any.


This one isn’t really self-explanatory, is it? What you’re looking at is Mick holding a Platy-type container and a mug under some dripping moss. It took a very long time to collect enough water, and we rued not having taken the hit on our pack weights and carried more from the gushing spring we’d visited a few miles before.IMG_4334

As a break from barren desert, we were in a forest that day. I loved the forests! Such a contrast to our commercial plantations:


There was one other water source between the dripping moss and this water cache and, erroneously, we decided not to make the half-mile detour to visit it. If this cache had been empty, we would have had a thirsty and uncomfortable few miles and would have had to have made a 3.6 mile detour to get water, so we were very happy to find this cache stocked with about 100 gallons. In fact, I was so delighted that I offered Mick a cooked breakfast and quickly whipped up some noodles (at 6am!).


Later the same day came my favourite area of all of the desert through which we walked (others later expressed surprise at our enthusiasm for the place and some went as far as saying they hated that section; I think that the dislike was mainly due to its exposed nature and the arduous walking (a very long uphill on soft sand)). It was the lie of the land that particularly pleased me, with lumps and bumps spreading out in every which direction, without any sign of habitation. Incredibly, there used to be industry up there, with a few remains of mines being visible. Somehow, this skeleton of an old bus fitted well into its surroundings:


Here it is zoomed in:


You know I said that I loved the forests? I wasn’t quite such a fan when they were burnt and this was a huge burn area. This photo was taken at about 8.30 in the morning and we were still walking through the burn area the following morning. Apparently, because this fire was caused by lightning, it was allowed to burn, and burn it did, for over a month. We were desperate for shade when we came across three live trees. They were spindly (and who knows how they survived when surrounded by ones which had burnt), but we managed to get enough shade for a long lunch break. (Incidentally, that’s Maverick speeding off on the trail ahead of Mick; he’d just made me jump out of my skin simply by walking up behind us without me noticing)


“Could be in the Peak District” I said:


The next three photos (taken on Day 14, seven days after the last washing facilities) are all about the filth.

Part way through the first morning, we had a chat with a chap at a water cache. When he left, Mick said “Did you see the state of his shirt?”. A week later we fully understood that he wasn’t being lax in his clothes washing; it was just that his shirt was white and thus showed every bit of desert that had adhered itself to it. Mick’s shirt was dirt coloured, so didn’t look too bad, but mine was light blue. In this photo (where I’m gravity-filtering some water, in case you were wondering) what struck me is that even at that distance you can clearly see the dirt on my shoulders:


Then there was the state of our legs. Even though we wore long trousers the whole time, our legs were constantly filthy. At Vermillion Valley Resort we paid $6 each for a shower only to find that at the end of the following day our legs were back in this state.


And don’t mention the colour of my shirt collar! It looked this bad at the end of the first day.



Click here for 'PCT in Photos: Week 3’


  1. Good pics! The first picture of the old bus in particular - until I realised what was in the photo I'd completely underestimated the scale of the scenery!

    I did a bit a walking in the (not dissimilar) Sonora desert in Arizona, albeit on a day walking basis - not a multiday trek. It is all those things you mentioned - hot, dusty, dry, hard - and strangely beautiful.

  2. Great stuff! Keep it coming. Making me want to be out there. Only 284 days ;-)

  3. Great memories here - I did the JMT exactly one year ago. You mentioned having the Tarp tent doors open most nights. We had a trailstar tarp and only pitched it twice in public camp grounds. Slept under star the rest of the time. Bliss!