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Day 8-11: Rainbows, Eagles, and Cowboy Camping

Day 8: Mile 87-101; 14 miles

We were battered by a fierce storm last night, but stayed dry. Rain continued into the morning, and we emerged from our tent to a sweet rainbow.

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We began hiking and found a crazy mix of wind, rain, sun, clouds, and blue sky — sometimes all at once! Looking across the valley, we saw billowing clouds resting on the top of the far ridge with deep blue sky above.

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We walked to the water cache at mile 91 where we found many water jugs. Several trail angels puts in a ton of effort to bring water up here. We were grateful as without the cache, this could have been a 33 mile dry stretch.

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A strong wind buffeted us the whole day. At the close of the day we crossed the 100 mile mark!

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Day 9: Mile 101-109; 8 miles + 2.4 off trail to Warner Springs post office

Since we were nearing a town we had not expected the morning’s walking to be anything special, but we enjoyed a lovely trek through a pasture with grassy hills. We saw our first cows of the hike, and they looked quite content, as they should given the scenery.

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Plus, we rode an eagle, which rocked.

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After several miles we reached Warner Springs, where we retrieved our first food boxes and bounce box from the small post office. Outside we chatted with Keala, washed clothes in the faucet, backed up photos, charged batteries, cut our nails, and wrote thank you postcards to people who have donated to the Nature Conservancy.

In the late afternoon we walked back to the PCT and set up the tent in a sandy area near a creek. Frogs serenaded us to sleep after sunset.

Day 10: Mile 109-117; 8 miles

Since we hadn’t taken a zero day (a rest day walking zero miles) yet, we decided to at least make this a more relaxing day. To start, we slept in until 8! Then we stopped at the Warner Springs Community Center, which is right next to the trail, for a pancake and egg breakfast. Around 11am we hit the trail for a couple miles. It wasn’t too long before we stopped and enjoyed the shade and cool waters of Agua Caliente Creek. Soaking our feet in the cold water was like icing them. It felt perfect. We saw critters living underwater on the rocks which indicated good water quality.

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Our relaxing day was going great until Anna started getting pain in her right shin. The pain was increasing the farther we walked so we decided to camp early. Our hypothesis was that the shin pain was caused by the trail which was tilted to one side for many miles.

In the evening, we cowboy camped (just sleeping bags, no tent) in a small area surrounded by scrub brush. Above us, the half moon hung in a pristine blue sky as night slowly descended.

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Day 11: Mile 117- 126.5; 9.5 + 0.4 miles off trail for water

Cowboy camping did us well last night! We both slept quite well, about 10 hours. Anna’s shin was better after resting but still irritable so we decided to play it safe with another shorter mileage day. We walked three miles, then stopped for water at Lost Valley Spring, which was 0.2 miles off trail. The sun hadn’t crested the ridge yet so the morning air was comfortably cool.

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Around noon, we passed through a huge bowl strewn with massive rocks. Tiny springs seeped through the rocks occasionally.

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We’re hoping Anna’s shin is back to 100% tomorrow because we want to start increasing our mileage. Fortunately, the rest of our bodies are adapting well to the stresses of the trail.

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20 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ang #

    So glad to see the horned toads are still around. We used to see them while in Utah every year when I was growing up, but they’ve disappeared from that area for a long time now. Such nice little critters.
    Hope the shin behaves from here on out!

    April 29, 2012
    • Weird, I wonder what happened to them. They are so cool looking. And not very afraid of people!

      Thanks, we’re taking a zero day today (zero miles) which should help rest our tendons and muscles.

      May 4, 2012
  2. Elif Ertekin #

    I love reading these posts, it makes me feel like I’m there with you! Well … not really, as I’m sitting in front of my computer afterall … but it does make me feel grateful to be able to share your experience in this way. Hope your shin feels better Anna! Hugs!

    April 29, 2012
    • Thanks, Elif! Glad the experiences are translating well over the interwebs. I think my shin will be fine as long as I listen to my body and don’t overdo it.

      May 4, 2012
  3. juicebox #

    Each time I read these posts, I think you must be near the end but no, you still have a long way to go. To wake up every day knowing you have 8, 10, 20 miles to walk…I don’t know how you do it. I’m just finishing up a 2 week trip to HI/AS and I’m ready to go back to my regular life. But you guys seem to be having fun! Hope the shin feels better;!

    April 29, 2012
    • Yeah, when I look at a map and realize that we’ve moved only a tiny piece of the way to Canada, it can be overwhelming. But I mostly think about the trip in daylong pieces. Each day seems to bring its own surprises and excitement.

      Hope your trip went well. Surprisingly some of the greener mountain sides in SoCal resemble pictures I’ve seen of Hawaii, just less rain in the summer here.

      May 4, 2012
  4. I’m so glad I met you while you breezed through Fort Collins. I love following your adventure!

    April 30, 2012
    • Thanks Emily, it was good to meet you too, and so glad you’re digging it! Much more to come for sure. We’ll let you know when we’re back in Fort Collins in a few months.

      May 4, 2012
  5. Charles #

    Anna – i hope the shin heals up quick! Love the Eagle photo as well.

    April 30, 2012
    • Thanks, Charles. My shin is healing up. Eagle rock was pretty sweet. That picture of us flying on the wings reminds me of a Shel Silverstein poem.

      May 4, 2012
  6. Margaret #

    Ditto about eagle rock! We once had a ‘litter’ of horned toads. THat was until we realized the parents were eating the little ones…

    I’m so impressed by the little I know about how much attention you pay to the lighting of each pic. I can see a foreground that’s light, then it goes to shadow, then back to light again. I have a suspicion that isn’t easy to capture…
    Love, mLo

    April 30, 2012
    • I had no idea those guys were so ruthless! We watched an ant tear the leg off a fly a couple days ago, but I would say your story more gruesome.

      Thanks for noticing the light. It’s inspiring to see all these peaks from high altitude and to see how distance, clouds, and the angle of the sun change the scene.

      May 4, 2012
  7. Jan #

    I agree about lighting. It is wonderful in these pictures. Between the horned toad and the eagle the wildlife you are seeing is great! 😏 Who took the eagle picture? Surely you couldn’t use the self timer on that one and scramble all the way up those rocks!?

    Can you tell us more about the water cache? Were you sure it would be there or we’re you prepared to carry 33 miles worth of water?

    Awesome post again. You two are wonderful writers not to mention the awesome photos. Thanks for sharing you adventures with us all!

    May 1, 2012
    • Thanks Mom! After the storm rolled through, there were a lot of clouds which made for ever-changing light. I was always watching for the best moments.

      Our friend Keala took the Eagle Rock photo. She happened to be there when we were so it was very convenient. We’ve run into her a few times and it’s always fun.

      You can’t always depend on water caches, so we try to be prepared with enough water just in case. This year there is more water along the trail than usual due to a couple recent storms, so we still would have been fine without the cache. There’s a great water report we check constantly to stay up to date:

      http://www.4jeffrey.net/pct/

      May 4, 2012
  8. Jan #

    And I forgot to congratulate you on the 100 mile mark! Though I guess with something like this, the journey is what is most important, not the end point. And you sure seem to be enjoying the journey!

    May 2, 2012
    • Thanks! Yes, it’s definitely more about the journey for us than the amount of distance or how fast we’re traveling. It’s amazing how much there is to see and hear and smell every day. But the mile markers are a good way to solidify things in our heads. It’s crazy that 100 miles is only 1/26th of the trip. On to 200 soon!

      May 4, 2012
  9. Dante Rodriguez #

    oh no! Take care of that shin, Anna! It’s too early for pain. Be cool, take it easy . . . 100 miles in 8 days is a heck of a good start. Looking forward to meeting you guys in July.
    -Dante

    May 2, 2012
    • Thanks, Dante. My shin has been doing a bit better. Plus, we are taking a rest day in Idyllwild today so hopefully it will be back to normal soon. It’ll be fun to meet up in July!

      May 4, 2012
  10. Greg #

    Following you from Missoula, Anna! Thanks for a great account of your adventure.

    All the best,
    Greg

    May 4, 2012
    • Awesome, good to hear from a Walnut running buddy! It’s funny because even though we aren’t running these trails, we are wearing running shoes, not boots. It’s worked great so far. Nice and breezy and light. Hope all is well in Missoula!

      May 9, 2012

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