11.2 miles (454.4 to 465.6)
For some reason we think it’s a good idea to leave Hiker Heaven on the 1pm shuttle. So we do, and now we have to start hiking. And it’s hot out here. Really hot. That frigid day on Mount Gleason seems like a distant hallucination. What were we thinking? We should have left this evening and hiked until after dark. The forecast is frightening: higher temperatures each day until we’re in the 100s. At least we’re finally heading north again after the PCT’s long western tangent.
Today I’m wearing my new Altra Lone Peaks. I wasn’t sure if I’d need the same size, so ordered two pairs and kept the pair that’s 1/2 size larger than the shoes I wore for the last 450 miles. The old shoes look squashed and flat next to these bright beauties. I didn’t realize how broken down they were. I’m carrying them on my pack, though, because every time I get new shoes something goes wrong, and I can’t afford to ruin my feet. I’ll carry them until I’m sure the new shoes are ok.
After four miles of hot afternoon hiking, including two miles along paved roads, we stop for a rest in a sliver of shade cast by a tall shrub. I don’t know how I’m going to survive the next few hundred miles of desert heat. Even resting in the shade, I’m sweating. And it’s not even 100 degrees yet.
Eventually we have to start hiking again. When we do, the temperature seems to have dropped a little, possibly thanks to the breeze that’s started up. This is the ideal breeze: strong enough for evaporative cooling, but not strong to force me to take down my umbrella. I power through the climb to the top of a ridge. Once we get over the ridge, it’s a quick walk down to Bear Spring.
Three hikers are already here. We join them and chat and eat our dinner and fill up on water for the next 15 miles. Then it’s onward. Due to our late start, we’re only going to hike for a few more miles. Down the hill we go, and stop just after sunset at Bouquet Canyon Road. The camping area is directly below the paved road, and there’s a lot of traffic. If Dad’s foot was feeling better, I’d press on to the next site down the trail. But is acting up, so we put up our tents and agree to a 5am departure tomorrow. We need to do at least 20 miles, and I’d like to avoid hiking in the hottest part of the day if possible.
In my tent, I use a rag to clean my feet. The area between two of my toes itches when I rub there. Something’s wrong. I turn on my headlamp. The skin between my toes has split, the same problem that’s been plaguing Dad’s feet. When did this happen?! Why am I only feeling it now? I squeeze some antibiotics ointment on it and cover it with a bandage as well as I can. Maybe it won’t get any worse.