Day 12: Burger day

7.8 miles (144.0 to 151.8), plus 1 mile to Paradise Valley Cafe

My hair is gross. Greasy and dust-encrusted, it is easily the most disgusting part of my body right now. I can sort of clean the rest of myself, or at least smear the grime around until it’s invisible, but I can’t do anything about my hair until I reach a shower and a serious supply of shampoo. 

I give myself lopsided braids. I’m not brushing my teeth as often as I should. My clothes are filthy and they stink. 

I wonder if I look like a thru-hiker. I’ve section-hiked a few hundred miles of PCT around my home and seen many thru-hikers out there. Out here, my fellow hikers already have that thru-hiker look. From what I can tell, I still look like myself. These are the clothes I wear when I go backpacking for a weekend. This is the gear I bring. 


Today my pack is absurdly light. I’m nearly out of food (resupply is today!) and I’ve mostly depleted the 7 liters of water I schlepped up the hill yesterday. We’re all traveling light, and we speed up the trail to Walden Cache, where I take a liter of water to help get me down to Paradise Valley Cafe. That’s right: there’s a cafe within walking distance of the trail. Today is burger day!


After only a few hours, including multiple stops to photograph wildflowers, wildlife, and our 150th mile, we arrive at Highway 74. From here, it’s a one mile road-walk to the cafe. We order burgers and fries. Scarecrow and Jukebox also get a cinnamon roll and a muffin, and I get to polish off their leftover fries. 


We collect our resupply boxes, but we’ve decided not to head back to the trail today. We’re going back to Scarecrow’s house for a zero. (For those who don’t know, a “zero” is a day of complete rest on which a hiker covers zero miles.) We’d intended to zero in Idyllwild a few days from now, but Scarecrow has generously offered to chauffeur us to his house and then back to the trail, so we gratefully accept. After hiking 150 miles, we’re ready for our first zero. 

*More photos on Instagram

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