Day 32 – 36 Agua Dulce to Hiker Town

Day 32 12.04.18 zero

Making the most of my second zero I slept in till 7:30am, got up and hobbled on sore arches to the guesthouse and made a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit and yogurt.

After chatting with hikers Pirate and Bones I ended up banishing myself to my tent to get the last of my blog post finished. Often I can keep up each night and it takes only an hour in town to get everything posted, but most of my posts the week prior were yet to be written which always ends up taking longer to write. This results in me having to be antisocial to get the job done. Sometimes it’s a chore but overall this is something I enjoy and love having to look back on.

The rest of the day is spent on the couch watching movies while downloading new music on Spotify to keep me entertained on the trail.

With my Australian accent everyone mishears my trail name as “Rivah” instead of “River” so Private and Bones have started calling me Rivaaaa in an attempt to say the name authentically.

Ray arrives at midday and we have another reunion after spending the week apart. It’s great to always have at least one of the guys around, it will be even better once Kyle catches up and the gang is back together. Ray brings beer and I order pizza for dinner. Throughout the evening other hikers continue to arrive so we are joined by Mike and the Wild Boys who we originally met in Julian and have been following on Instagram. Later fellow Australian Steph arrives, she lives on the Sunshine Coast but turns out she grew up just a few suburbs from me. Steph is trail famous as “Wendy of the Lost Boys” (from Peter Pan) as she’s a semi motherly figure to everyone she meets. It was great to hear another Australian accent and have someone to sing the vegemite song with.

After resting for two days I’m finding my body hurts more than usual from doing nothing. I’m stiff every time I get up and haven’t reeped the stretching benifits of walking up a hill for the day. Zero days are not as therapeutic as you’d think. Utilising the foot buckets and epsom salts Ray and I decide to soak our feet and are eventually joined by a whole circle of hikers drinking beers with pants rolled up to enjoy their own foot baths.

The wind picks up so I move my tent inside a small dome shelter but still have a patchy sleep as everything outside rattles and flaps in the weather.


Day 33 13.04.18 10 Miles / 17.5km

After a long windy night we woke up covered in a fine layer of dirt. There was no rush to get ready so we slowly packed up, ate reheated pizza then walked the mile into town with our packs, joining a few other hikers. After coffees and burritos Ray repacked my awkward sitting bag for me, then realised he’d left his sandals at Hiker Heaven. I waited with our bags while he hitched up the road then ran back with them. It wasn’t until midday that we actually hit the trail so we opted for an easy day which is always smart breaking in new shoes. The North Face runners were added to the old shoe bin and I started fresh in my New Salomon Odessa Pros as provided by my ambassadorship. I suspect they might be half a size too small, but tied loose they aren’t bad, and after the first day I was still blister free. Farewell old shoes, hello arch support.

Nerve pain from an old mountain bike injury flares up and I feel tight and sore up the side of my right shin. The pain moves around as I hike uphill until it eventually went away. My body is begging for a big stretch session.

The majority of the day was uphill, and as usual I had to stop for a short laughing fit as I recounted Kyles distress after thinking he stepped on a lizard that ran under his foot. Not that it’s a laughing mater, but the fact I shouldn’t laugh seemed to make it funny….like everything else inappropriate that keeps me entertained.

We made it to the spring and loaded our already heavy bags with more water, ensuring to chug half a litre before we carried on. This was the last refill until the following night so I took 3.5Litres to cook, clean and hike with.

We made it to camp by 5pm so setup our tents, chilled in the sun to filter our water, cook dinner and dream about the endless possibilities of life after the trail.

Day 34 14.04.18 23.5km

From 6:30am we notice trail runners passing our tents, after a handful of them we also notice they all have race bibs and after chatting to them we learn they are racing the Loena Divide 50/50. Some competitors are running 50 miles, others are running 50 kilometres. From the warmth of our sleeping bags and through our flyless tents we woo and cheer them on for a good hour before we get get up. Some of them knew we were hikers, others were surprised to see us and had no idea why we were there. Many laughed when I got a cramp in my foot as they passed their tenth mile running with no idea that I’d just walked 465 kms (289 Miles).

These guys are insane, the amount of training and endurance to run distances like that is just unimaginable. They seemed to think the same about us hiking the PCT. Conversations sounded like: “You’re amazing” “No YOU’RE amazing” “I couldn’t run this, we just walk” “I only have to do this one day a year, I couldn’t get up and keep walking every day for months”. It’s funny how two different types of endurance athletes are in total awe of each other.

Not long after getting on the trail for the day we reach the first marathon aid station. They were so happy to see hikers they offered us all the racers food, water and ammenities. We stopped to eat and chat and eventually walked our first mile for the day after a very slow start. Throughout the day we stepped aside for the 400 runners, every time in awe and respect for the distance they were pushing themselves.

The second aid station fed us pizza and refilled our water bottles. One of the volunteers is hoping to hike the PCT next year so we chatted for a while as we were particularly well taken care of.

Eventually we made it to the highway where we hitched a ride into Green Valley to visit Casa De Luna, a famous trail angel house run by Terri and Joe Anderson. We stopped at the grocery store for fruit, and Ray made me spray my iced coffee all over myself in a laughing fit.

Casa De Luna lived up to its name as we camped up the back in a forrest of trees decorated by colourful rocks painted by hikers. Hawaiian shirts are handed out, couches make a communal space out the front and Terri made us a Taco salad for dinner. I painted a rock to add to the tree outside my tent which I’m hoping will last as a piece of art for years to come.

Tradition is that there’s a PCT Bandana made every year and here’s the place to earn it. Your qualifying act to receive the banana is to dance for it. I head off to the tent to change into warmer clothes and return to see everyone with one…except me. Not only did I miss out on a bandana but also on watching everyone earn it. I wasn’t happy. I’d missed my chance and all the fun. Terri had gone to the shops so as soon as she returned she’d barley turned into the driveway when I’d jumped up and was busting my moves in her headlights to earn this dam bandana. I wasn’t going to miss out…regardless of how ridiculous I looked. I got me an official 2018 PCT bandana and went to bed a happy hiker 🙂

Day 35 15.04.18 14.5 Miles / 23.6km

Determined not to have another slow morning I was up and packed by 6:30am. Joe cooked us pancakes and coffee starting at 7am, so we ate like kings before our day of hiking. It turns out breakfast in my tent may well be the slowing factor like Kyle suggested.

Kyle night hiked and caught up with us arriving at 7:30am. He planned on getting some sleep then hiking through the night for a few more days so we’ll constantly be just out of reach while he makes the most of cool nights to hike.

After getting a lift back to the trail from Terri, Ray and I walked the ridge line for 10km with a handful of others and then rested by the road at a water cache. A car drove past then turned around and stopped next to us. Before we knew it, Just Scott jumped out saying “I knew I’d find you eventually, want a beer?” Beside ourselves to see Scott again we then spent the next 3 hours sitting on the tray of his ute (truck) catching up on how he’s recovering after getting cortisone injections in his knees to then return to the trail. With the week rest Scott has been driving up and down the trail giving hikers lifts into towns, refilling water caches and keeping an eye out for us to share his esky (cooler) of beer, soft drink, water and smoothie juice with. Such an unexpected way to spend the day but we couldn’t be happier.

Looking at the map we decided on a closer campsite and continued on our shorter day of hiking with huge grins on our faces. It’s amazing how much we’ve grown to be a family after just a short period of time.

After all the hospitality from Trail Angels, Marathon Aid Stations and Scott, I’ve hardly eaten anything from my own pack. Instead of our packs getting lighter Scott gives us each some honey he harvested from his hives, a beer to celebrate tomorrow’s mile marker, and we collect 3 Litres of water for an upcoming dry stretch. The next hill was slow.

A few hours later we found our site and set up camp. We notice that we’ve finally got set up down to a familiar routine. Put up tents, make bed, clean ourselves, change into thermals, climb into bed and cook dinner from the tent while the temperature drops around us. I’m not looking forward to bear country when we can’t have food in or near the tents, that sounds cold.

I finally eat the ramen I’ve been thinking about for two days, soak my chia seeds ready for breakfast the next morning and relax in my tent until bedtime.

Day 36 16.04.18 18 Miles / 29km

For the first time on trail I was ready for a morning poop. This is the ideal time with lots more hiding spots than my usual midday scramble over poodle dog bush to hide behind a rock on the side of the trail. It was luxurious. Birds were chirping, the ground was soft and I started the day feeling light.

By 11:30 Ray and I reached the 500 Mile marker (800km) which was extremely significant. We carried beers to celebrate the distance we’d covered and recorded our victory dances. In the past hearing the song 500 Miles I’d never considered being able to actually walk that far, let alone doing it myself, but here we were, 36 days later having done just that. What a special moment, I’m so incredibly proud of myself.

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The temperature dropped at lunch and we found ourselves walking towards grey skies. Checking the weather we brace ourselves for a freezing night. Getting closer to camp it starts to lightly hail on us and continues while I set up my tent.

We hide in our damp tents for the hail to stop so we can go collect water at the stream. We stay out by the road for 20minutes where we get phone service to upload our videos and chat with friends, returning as frozen social media addicts that can’t feel their hands.

After dinner we had an early night, cocooning up we couldn’t chat anymore, giving up after saying “You’ll have to speak up I’m wearing both my hoods” so we fell asleep by 8pm. I woke up periodically to find it was snowing, needing to shake the snow off the fly of our tents. For a cold night I stayed super warm in the new Big Agnes sleeping bag, and stayed in a ball to avoid touching any condensation on the walls of my tent. Mission successful and I wake up to a winter wonderland.

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