a journey of 2,652 miles
THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL 2018
starts with a single step.
Miles 415.1 to 436.1. Bushcamp to North Fork Ranger Station
We get up quite early because - surprise - another long day is ahead of us. With the town of Agua Dulce and the trail angels' house Hiker Heaven in the near future we really want to make good time and reach it as soon as possible. We are already getting excited about being reunited with our friends and of course food, drinks, laundry and shower.
When we exit the tent there is the most beautiful sunrise awaiting us. This all-time fantastic weather really makes it easy(ier) to get up this early in the morning. By 5.30 am we are ready to go. The first part today is a rather steep downhill hike to the Mill Creek Fire Station where we can get water at a running spigot. We are the first ones to get there this morning and have the place all to ourselves. After we fill up our bottles and filter the water, we make fresh coffee and eat breakfast and then even give our hair a good rinse because, well, it's disgusting. Never mind the rest of our unshowered bodies. But by then other people are showing up and we have to finish our shower party.
Of course, after a steep descent there is always a steep ascent. In the bright sun - as pretty much always too. Luckily it doesn't take too long. It is really hot today, already at 7.30 am! And unfortunately there isn't a lot of shade to take breaks in, so we are just dragging ourselves along and when it gets closer to lunch time we start looking for a place shady enough to stop at. Which is nearly impossible. So we keep hiking up, up, up the hills until finally we find some shade. By that time I am exhausted and not feeling well and just annoyed with the whole situation. My bad mood rubs off on Dario and we both start arguing over nothing really. After lunch he uses his anger to climb yet another mountain and makes it in record time while I am still just limping along, frustrated and angry, at nothing really. When I finally reach the top of the mountain, Dario is waiting for me and we make up. We also run into Sirio, another Swiss hiker of whom we will also see much more in the upcoming days.
Tonight's goal is the North Fork Ranger Station where, rumor has it, Hot Dogs and Sodas are waiting for us. This is a huge motivation booster and we practically run down the next mountain. For 15 minutes. Then I realize that today I am just not in a good place. But I pull myself together to do the last 6 or so miles and we finally make it to the Ranger Station around 6.30 pm. Another long day and 21 miles, but sure enough, the best reward is waiting for us. Fresh drinks, fruit, a lovely campsite where some hikers (hi again Sirio, and soon after hello there again Christian, our two Swiss guys) have already set up camp for the night - aaand Hot Dogs! I offer Ranger Ron, the caretaker there, to help him with the Hot Dogs and so he tells me to come to the Ranger's house with him where there will be "a treat waiting for me". Yes, it does sound kind of creepy, but I don't care because by then I am hopeful that I might get to use the bathroom and wash my oh so filthy hands. Thankfully I am right, he actually lets me use his bathroom to wash my hands and I even take some time to wash my really dirty face. It's those little things that become so special when living in the wild.
After the Hot Dog dinner and one, two (in Dario's case 6!!! cokes) we happily get into our tent and fall asleep instantly.