Time moves differently on the Pacific Crest Trail.
I’m fast learning to count kilometres (and miles) by how many minutes have passed, and it’s a sad equation.
I still expect to move at the usual walking speed I have at home; I feel like I should be able to cover similar distances just as fast, but the reality is far from that. I have to learn to be okay with it – the minutes don’t matter. When I’ve got an extra 20kg on my back, I’ll just get to camp when I get to camp.
But while time may not matter on the trail, the weather does. With yesterday being painfully hot, I had a genius idea: start earlier.
I had a TONNE of fun beginning this journey with the interview for Outside Magazine and having the privilege to meet Halfmile, the PCT legend who created the most trustworthy and meticulous maps for the trail. My fun at the border on Day One was more important than setting off straight away, so I just went with it. A decision I absolutely do not regret and would make again.. But today, with no photographers and just me and the trail, beating the heat for Day Two seemed a smart move.
I set my alarm for 3:45AM.
I didn’t even question it – we had camped at the bottom of a mountain, and scaling it before the sun came up would make a heck of a lot of difference. It did take me an hour to get dressed, pack up my tent and set off with two of the girls, but who moves fast at that time of morning, really?
It was the perfect plan, and we made scaled that mountain before making it to the little town fairly easily (with regular stops to try and resume regular breathing on the way up).
I had a coffee, and with some cell service, figured I’d update you all on my first day, crack out the oats and trail mix and enjoy a relaxed breakfast while I waited for Melanie and the others went on.
She and I had slept next to each other in a gazebo at Frodo and Scout’s place, and that girl is a kindred spirit. She too has a slightly heavier pack, but the German determination and funny attitude she has are more than enough to get her the whole way if she wants (she’s not sure yet).
When she caught up, Melanie inspected her blisters, looked at me, carved up an avocado and said wryly,
“The best thing about hiking is not hiking.”
Told you she’s funny.
I was really sorry to keep going four hours later, because we’re not sure when/if we’ll see each other again, but that’s the nature of this trail.
Contrary to Camino, we don’t all have a similar date we expect to arrive – some aren’t even sure if they will reach Canada. I have to consciously stop myself from comparing the two hikes, and instead appreciate each for what it is.
Today, I could have been adventuring through Sydney’s Royal National Park and not known the difference.
Except maybe for the border patrol helicopters that went flew over the trail.
It was another blistering hot day.
The heat here is insane.
Everything melts – Vick’s turns to liquid, hand sanitiser wants to explode, and protein bars definitely don’t hold up well.
I have learnt that nut protein bars hold their own, if you don’t count the yogurt coating.
In case you skim-read (Mum!) and missed it, I spent four hours at the campground this morning.
Totally voided the whole 3:45 wake up, but because I got to chill out with Melanie a little while longer, I didn’t mind too much.
I guess I just have short-term memory when it comes to the heat, because when I finally decided to leave it was 11:15 and the day was cooking. We had glanced at the temperature around 9:30AM – it was already 32’C! Looking back, I’m still not sure why it didn’t occur to me that setting off again another two hours after that would be a questionable idea at best, but I stuck it out.
Towards the evening, my body felt like it was going to give out. I caught up to Erin, and together we stumbled the last three kilometres around a mountainside to try and find our campground after a [self-inflicted] torturous day.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever moved so slow.
We moved forward for maybe sixty seconds and had to rest for thirty, continuously for the better part of an hour. It was like a tabata workout, only with beautiful views and not by choice.
Finally, mercifully, we spotted tents beside a creek, had a bum-shuffle down a small cliff face and pitched our tents for the second night out here.
Wasn’t a terribly bad spot to spend the night, either.