14.5 miles (86.6 to 101.1), plus ~0.5 mile to/from 3rd Gate Cache
Wind thrashes our camp all night. I’m worried about my companions in their trekking-pole-supported tents, so I finally strap on my headlamp and dash out of my tent to check on them. Both tents are flapping but standing strong. What a relief.
I sleep and wake, sleep and wake as my tent rattles and wind rushes beneath me. Come morning, my tent is still shuttering. The new Cyclone stakes haven’t budged, however, which inspires great confidence, as I’m sleeping on sand. These stakes are as serious as they look.
As I pack, I discover that my things are coated in sand. Across the campsite, I hear my dad and my uncle comment on the same issue. We’ve been sandblasted. Unlike previous nights, however, last night’s wind wasn’t just wind for wind’s sake. This wind brought us a huge dark cloud. I eat breakfast in a hurry and throw on my full rain gear, and we hit the trail with a rapidly expanding black cloud overhead. The lighting is fantastic. I’m in photographer mode, hardly able to put my camera away – and then the rainbow appears.
Now every shot is even more dramatic. As the trail takes us westward, we literally chase the rainbow around the mountain. The clouds darken, and spit on us, and cast spectacular shadows. What a gorgeous morning!
Under black clouds, we continue yesterday’s traverse of the mountain’s folds. In and out of ravines, up and up, until finally we head vaguely north and find ourselves at the fork to the Third Gate Cache.
Pain has been brewing in my right foot, and as we make our way down to the water cache the pain suddenly worsens, making me cringe. No no no, this is not ok. At the cache, I massage my foot and switch insoles while my dad and his brother fill a few of their water bottles. I hardly need any water after carrying so many liters up the mountain yesterday. We resume our hike.
Miraculously, with the change of insoles my foot pain is gone, and stays gone. Could it be a nerve issue? I doubt the pain would vanish if I was truly injured. We hike and hike and my foot stays pain-free. We crest a ridge and receive a pretty view of a village my uncle tells us is Ranchita.
We wind around the mountain on the north side, spiraling downward now, and in mid-afternoon we reach Mile 100. Dad and I have hiked 100 miles! We take photos and congratulate each other. This is the farthest I’ve ever hiked in a single trip.
Just one mile later we reach Barrel Spring and stop for the day. For the first time, we’ll have a water source in camp. How luxurious. We’re soon joined by Maria, who we’ve met several times now. She sets up her tent nearby and we all eat dinner and get ready for the cold, windy, potentially wet night ahead. Tomorrow we’ll reach Warner Springs, and our next resupply boxes.
*More photos on Instagram @eowynhikes