Days 7 & 8; April 23 & 24; Campsite at mile 82 to Barrel Springs (mile 101)
Tried for another early morning start yesterday, but after the usual routine of snoozing and blister care, didn't leave camp until after 7am. My feet were really bad from the first step, and another sunny day made things even more uncomfortable. The water cache at 3rd gate was only 9 miles away, but it may as well have been 90 for all I could tell. While the landscape was probably awesome at one point, it's fire scarred now and I can't say I found much beauty in it as the trail traveled through it, try as I might. We didn't get there until 1pm, but upon arrival, I found the first shady spot I could to spend the heat of the day and wait out the heat for a little night hiking.
Spent a long, lazy, lovely afternoon under a juniper (and alarmingly close to a cactus). We realized that if we pushed on for a longer night hike than initially planned to mile 101 at Barrel Springs, we'd be able to enjoy our first day zero at the springs. We had no idea what was actually there but hoped it would be a nice spot to while away a day and rest the feet. Making it to Barrel Springs would put us only 8 miles shy of Warner Springs, the official end of the first section of the PCT, at mile 109. It was tough to leave the huge water cache, but we hit the trail at 7pm and slogged on 10 more miles...and I couldn't be happier about the decision! It was midnight by the time we rolled into camp, and there were plenty other hikers already there. Set up camp as quickly and quietly as possible, and went to sleep with the knowledge there'd be no alarm tomorrow morning - quite nice. Couldn't see much when we got in, but the oak leaves on the ground as we descended into the area were a promising sign of some shade. Indeed, upon leaving the tent this morning, we were greeted with a lovely green little area to spend the day. Water, grass, oak trees, etc. It's great.
After sleeping in today, the Flying Hons made it to B. Springs and we spent the morning with them - I adore them! They're 3 retired women from Boise, all very friendly and kind, and always look like they're having more fun than anyone else around. They're fantastic - it's refreshing to see people who seem so genuinely happy to see you too, and they're a good reminder that we're all out here to have fun - so we may as well enjoy the journey even when it's rough! Atlas also arrived for a short break before pushing on, and then Tracy and Ingrid arrived to spend the day - some more of my favorites! I'm curious if we'll see Marshall today - our first trail friend, and I miss him! I'm curious how his trip has been since we last saw him a few days ago.
Tomorrow is the meet-up with Jon & Gail in Warner Springs, and I'm definitely looking forward to some more time off for my feet! I can already tell this one day off is helping tremendously. If they'd stop hurting, all this madness would be making far more sense!
By the end of the zero day at Barrel Springs, I was shocked by how much I enjoyed a day of doing literally nothing. It was the leisurely, slow paced kind of day I've never been able to appreciate - until now perhaps! I spent the day journaling, napping, eating a nice big lunch, playing cards, etc. It was awesome, though I started to feel weird about that fact that I didn't get bored even once! So unlike me, and I feel pretty relaxed. Fingers crossed this becomes a pattern...but if so, my Mom would wonder what happened to her totally on the go, antsy and over extended oldest daughter. Might not be so bad!