Miles hiked today: 18.7 (plus 0.8 miles round trip to 3rd gate water cache)
Camped at: Barrel Springs
The definition of utter decadence? Maybe I should qualify this (fellow hikers, banish your fantasies of free all-you-can eat buffets): while thru hiking, currently out in the backcountry, and tromping through a desert? Best lunch spot ever – Billy Goat cave! Just large enough for 1 person (or 2-3 if you want to get really cozy), the ideal shaded area to take a siesta when the sun is beating down, it’s hot, and you have several more exposed miles of ridge walking in the San Felipe Mtns left to do. Plus, thoroughly enjoying the apple you packed out of town yesterday while enjoying a lovely view, and then a nap using my food bag as a (surprisingly comfy) pillow. Ahhhhhh. Followed by goofiness when hiking partners invade!
Today’s story actually begins last night. I had set the alarm on my phone for 11:30, well past hiker midnight, for the beginning of the lunar eclipse. What a spectacular view we had!! The moon was literally overhead, in our direct line of vision while laying down (we were cowboy camping – i.e. no tent), and the sky was completely clear. Incredible. Of course, I was woken out of a sound sleep, and the first thing that came to mind was (and of course I blurted out): “hey, it’s not red!”, in reference to the Blood Moon phenomenon I had read about. Hemlock, Susan, and I watched the eclipse, marveling at how bright and numerous the stars became as the lunar light, which had been unbelievably bright, had faded. And then…..Susan said: “I think the moon is red!”. Definitely a change in color, though not red per se, either way it was incredible. When we hiked out of camp this morning, saying a fond farewell to Farwalker who is deliberately going slow, we had the setting moon before us, and the rising sun behind. Stunning.
Today’s hike along the San Felipe ridgelines featured lovely views, and incredibly gentle trail, I barely knew I was climbing from the graded switchbacks. 2 landmark moments: 1) Passed 100 miles! 2) I hiked 12 miles before 12pm, which is a “benchmark” in long distance hiking, though even better is 10 before 10, which is the new goal, especially considering the heat can get oppressive as early as 10-11am. Today, I deliberately slowed down my pace so I wouldn’t sweat as much, and that seemed to do the trick to continue adapting to the heat, in addition to drinking lots of water and Gatorade. Otherwise, I had some good conversations with Hemlock and Susan about how our group is doing together – with a trio it’s a very different dynamic than just having 1 hiking partner. We’re also pretty independent people normally, so finding the balance between alone time and group togetherness has taken some time, but I think it’s going well so far. They’ve made my PCT hike so special, I’m so grateful for both of them :).
My cave siesta: