8.4 miles (101.1 to 109.5)
Another cloudy morning on the PCT. With a short hike planned for today, we don’t leave camp until 8am. Then, we repeatedly put on and take off layers as we move in and out of fast, cold wind.
Soon the trail drops down into rolling grassland. This section is so different than anything we’ve seen so far. I hear Horned Larks and Meadowlarks. We watch a pair of ravens follow the trail.
We cruise into one grassy valley, then another, and then the landscape really opens up. Eagle Rock, an iconic PCT landmark, appears in the distance. When we reach Eagle Rock, Katrina is already there. She camped at Barrel Spring last night, too. She’s dancing her way to Canada by filming dance breaks along the trail. She invites us to join her, I accept, and the two of us dance in front of Eagle Rock. You can watch us on her Instagram account @trailjams!
Afterward, I take lots of pictures and we sit and use the rocks as a wind break. This is a beautiful place.
After Eagle Rock, we cruise down to Warner Springs. The trail follows a creek for a portion of the hike. On the way down, my dad accepts a trail name: Jukebox, so named because he bursts into song whenever anyone happens to say anything resembling a song lyric (classic rock songs, in particular).
At Warner Springs, we show up at the Community Center and quickly snag a ride to and from the post office, where we collect our resupply boxes. Back at the center, we sort through our food. We have way too much food. How did this happen? We aren’t hiking any faster than I’d planned, yet I have a least one too many of each meal.
Originally we planned to stay here tonight, but now I’m considering hiking on. We repack our backpacks and eat lunch, and by the time we’re ready to leave I’ve decided to stay. I don’t want to push it after all, especially with my reappearing-disappearing foot pain.
We claim camping spaces and set up our tents. Dad and I take bucket baths and do bucket laundry. I sit in the Community Center posting pictures and blogging as other hikers come and go and strike up conversations around me. I hear hikers speak of averaging 18 miles a day, of doing 21 miles yesterday and 17 today, and I feel like a slacker. I’ve averaged only 12 miles per day. But then I hear one hiker describe tendon problems. Another says she walks with a limp now. Everyone seems to be in pain, and lots of it.
I’m content with my decision to start slow. I’ll never be the fastest hiker on the trail, but I hope I’m building strength that will carry me through the next 2,500 miles.
*More photos on Instagram @eowynhikes