Day 28: 5/6/2014, PCT Mile 418.9

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Miles hiked: 18
Camped at: Mill Creek Fire Station, cowboy camping on their patio, under an overhang. Camped with Rei, Twice, Uke, Happy Feet, Apple Butter, and Chup

I was so hoping to make it 1 full month without personally encountering any precipitation while on the trail, but today broke my streak. It started to rain (lightly) as I was walking up to the Fire Station after doing the quickest 18 miles of my life, I was to the road by 3pm. Mr Gimpy 2.0 (my umbrella) officially had rain touch it’s surface. Well, at least I made it under cover of the porch at the station before it started to hail! Many hikers moved on, but a group of us kept looking at the clouds and hoping we could stay right here. There is camping at the picnic area by the road, but the wind break of the building is much appreciated. Happily, around 5pm a truck came back as many of us were eating dinner, and a really nice firewoman told us we were welcome to stay! I’m laying in my bag under one of the porch overhangs, hoping it doesn’t rain overnight or if it does that I’m in a good spot not to get wet. There was no residue of rain from the previous shower, at least. Sometimes it pays to be the only girl – I got my pick of spots! There is a privy a short walk up the hill, and fresh water, so this is truly golden in the life of a thru hiker.

I had a truly foul night last night. However I pitched my tent was the exact wrong way to do so, and I spent a miserable night in the high wind and the pole/stakes coming out of the rocky/sandy ground. Needless to say, I got little sleep. I’m shocked I hiked as strong as I did today, but the cold weather and threat of rain had me booking it for the most part. I’m almost 100% sold on the idea of getting my trusty BA tent back – I’d be in it on this patio tonight that’s for sure. I’m making myself get a good night’s sleep before making the final mayday call to Mom.

I entered the Station Fire burn zone today, and except for some interesting areas and views at the highest elevations, found it extremely depressing. The 1999 fire consumed more than 160K acres, and I’ll be hiking in it for a total of 40 miles, the longest prolonged burn area on the PCT. The dead and downed trees, the sooty soil easily giving way underfoot and, most annoying,the dreaded poodle dog bush were out in force. I’m going to road walk the next 10 miles in an approved alternate to avoid the worst of the poodle dog nastiness, hard as it is to believe it’ll be worse than today.

The truly bright spot of today was that I wasn’t alone on the trail itself – I leapfrogged with several folks and had lunch with Gotta Walk, brief though it was in the cold and wind. I still have a hang up about people passing me as I’m climbing, but I’m hoping that goes away soon. The guys and I had a fun evening on the back patio picnic table despite the cold temps – passed around tea and hot chocolate, and traded stories. Good times!

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