As I hike out here on the PCT, I can’t help but think of how the simple things in daily life can now turn my entire day around and become day makers. These days, living as an unemployed, dirty, thru-hiker, I get really excited to see things like a garbage can, pit toilets with toilet and running water. Week Five proved to be a huge shift in perspective for me. The things I get really excited about and are worth hiking for as a thru-hiker are a lot different than when I was just a day hiker.
Water Sources at Tentsites
One of my favorite things to do after hiking several miles on a hot day is soak my feet in water. A few times this week, we ended our hiking day at a tentsite with a flowing creek nearby where we could refill our water while soaking our tired, dirty feet. Having clean and rested feet is one of the best feelings out here on trail.
Satisfying Food Cravings
Hiking the PCT makes me hungry. Really hungry. There’s a phenomenon out here called “Hiker Hunger” and it’s real. Hiker Hunger started for me after 300 miles and it’s only gotten worse the farther I hike up the trail. It can do wonders for shedding weight from your food bag, but Hiker Hunger can also be quite expensive whenever you come into town. Twice this week, I was able to satisfy a few really big food cravings on trail.
On Day 29, Bleeder and I ended our 18 mile hiking day at Cleghorn Picnic Area, Mile 328.1, near Silverwood Lake where we were able to have a large veggie pizza, sides of ranch and a two-liter root beer delivered to us. Those 18 miles were long and hot, but a whole lot easier to do when we knew we’d have pizza for dinner that night. Yes, I’ll most certainly hike for pizza.
Then the very next day, at Mile 341.9, we spent five hours eating at McDonalds. I know what you’re thinking, who would be excited to eat at a McDonalds, let alone want to spend five hours there? The trail does some funny things to your brain while you’re out here. This is the only McDonalds close to the trail (only .3 miles from trail) and is so legendary, it has its own sign on the PCT.
We arrived at the busiest time ever – Saturday afternoon during Memorial Weekend. The place was swarming with dirty thru-hikers AND weekend travelers. There was also a constant long line for the women’s restroom the entire time we were there.
I took full advantage of the five hours we spent here. I started off ordering breakfast with a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit, hash browns and an orange juice. After a pause, I ordered Round Two, which consisted of a Big Mac, French fries, six-piece chicken nuggets and an apple pie. Before we left, I ordered an Oreo McFlurry and got two cheeseburgers to-go for dinner later that night. I ate so much food and I didn’t feel the least bit guilty about it.
Even out of my own food bag on trail, I’ve been able to satisfy food cravings on a daily basis. I look forward to eating Rice Krispies Treats for breakfast, crave Top Ramen for lunch and will now only eat instant mashed potatoes with a side of brown gravy. Brown gravy makes any meal out here worth hiking for. Who knew?
Hiking in Clean Socks Without Holes
As a day hiker, I always made it a habit to have an extra pair of socks in my pack at all times. It was rare I ever had to use the second pair. Most of the time this extra pair was just extra weight in my pack.
As we were leaving Big Bear (at Mile 266.1) I realized I only had one pair of socks…the same pair I was wearing. I had accidentally packed the rest of my socks in my resupply boxes for the Sierra. Ugh!
My socks were pretty tough for the first two days. But one hole in the big toe turned into two more holes in the heel. Since we never stopped in one place long enough for my socks to dry, I wasn’t able to wash off the dirt that was caking up on them.
I can’t tell you how incredibly uncomfortable it was to hike six days and over 100 miles, in dirt, sand, rocks and with over 16,000 feet elevation gain in socks that were literally falling apart underneath my feet.
I learned a VERY valuable lesson – never leave town without at least three pairs of socks. Have one to wear and at least two for back up. As soon as we got into Wrightwood, I bought a new pair of socks and put them on immediately. I will never underestimate the power and comfort of hiking in clean socks without holes again.
Town Days are really exciting out here on trail. Nothing can get me out of my sleeping bag faster than knowing I’ll be able to shower, do laundry, throw away my trash in a garbage can, eat a meal that doesn’t require boiling water and be able to use a toilet that flushes and is stocked with toilet paper in less than 12 hours. Town Days also mean my pack is significantly lighter because my food bag and water carries are practically empty.
This week, we took a Nero Day in Wrightwood. That means we hiked into town early in the afternoon, spent the night in a hotel room with my entire trail family and got back on trail the next afternoon. Our next proper Zero Day would be in Agua Dulce at Hiker Heaven in a week.
Other highlights that happened this week – crawling up Mount Baden-Powell, elevation 9,407 feet, getting a brand new hiking outfit sent to me on trail from the ladies at Athleta and enjoying daily afternoon siestas while hiding from the hot afternoon sun.
The simplest things in life are truly the best and always worth hiking for.