Oct 3, 4
PCT: 652 – 670.2
Total Miles: 934.5
Elevation gain: 4639
I took a bus from Bakersfield to Lake Isabella on 10/3 and spent the night in a hotel. The next morning I took a very early bus to Onyx and arrived around 8 am. It took an hour to hitch a ride to the trail (Walker Pass, so I started hiking by 9.
The weather was beautiful but somewhat warm. There were hazy clouds that gave some cover from a bright, direct sun. The terrain was so different from Washington/Oregon with few trees and dry, high desert wide, expansive views. There were 3 difficult climbs for the day that were reminiscent of Washington 5k elevation gains. The trail was often rocky and difficult on my feet, but overall, my feet did much better today than the days in Washington.
I knew that there would not be much water as California is in a drought and this is a low water year, so I carried my maximum water load of 7 liters. With the water and full food resupply and bear canister and warm, winter clothes, I was at a breaking point in pack weight. I didn’t have a way to weight it but it had to be over 50 lbs. My pack is rated at 40 lbs max, and I find that over that weight, it becomes painful to carry. Also, the steep climbs were very difficult carrying all that weight. I suffered all day and had to take many short breaks to get some relief.
I ran into Tim (Mrs. Dash) and two other southbounders. Tim was with me during my intitial southbound attempt in mid-June and helped me after I fell off the trail. It was a man-hugging reunion.
None of the designated water stops had water today. This worried me since after 18 miles with no water, my next water stop was in 10 more miles. If I stretched my supply I may be able to make it (the next day) but if it is dry, the next one is in 17 more miles. I could not go 27 miles on the 3 liters I had left. After much self debate, I decided that I would find a campsite for the night and tomorrow I would turn back to Walker Pass. Maybe I could find a way to Kennedy Meadows and skip this 50 mile section.
Just before reaching my campsite, I noticed a small wet patch on the side of the trail. I followed it back to the origin and found some stagnant pools of water. A little further back, I found some moving water. Behind that was a small dribble of water coming out of the ground. I rigged up a leaf with a rock and was able to channel the water into a stream that I could fill my water bottles with. Hallelujah! I have water. I changed the plan and decided that I could camp for the night and to push on tomorrow with a 7 liter water load.
One of the Southbounders with Tim.
Tim is the guy with the big, goofy hat and big smile.
Walker pass at 9 am.
Bill (Blackhawk Down)