Mile 144 in small boulder field to small campsite near top of mountain at beginning of , mile 160 (+2 miles to/from the Paradise Valley Cafe)
18 miles today, and it's the best I've felt the whole trip, except for possibly Day 1's adrenaline rush. For the first time in a while, I feel like I'm equipped to be here and am not a total loser who is entirely unfit for the trail. At day's end, my feet hurt, but my spirits are higher than they've been in a while. Yay!
Woke up and broke camp by 5:30 this morning - way earliest yet! Hustled 9 miles up and down to Highway 74 for what is purported to be the best burger on the trail. Unfortunately, a big group of us hustled so quickly we got there by 9am. I thought about waiting until lunch was served at 11, but everyone else ordering breakfast around me got the best of me - so I went ahead and ordered a breakfast burrito and a root beer float (which came highly recommended by a fellow hiker). Thru-hiking is definitely one of the few things that makes such a meal at 9am on a Wednesday acceptable. Brett went for a modest meal of: an 8oz steak, 3 sunny side up eggs, hashbrowns, a plate of bacon, a side of biscuits and gravy, and a breakfast beer. After breakfast, a number of hikers decided they'd stay on til lunch - it was too hot to hike anyway so may as well. I was still full, but Brett's binge continued with: a half pound burger with jalapenos, avocado, and bacon, as well as fries and a few more beers. I was disgusted and impressed all at the same time. Where does he put it?!?!
Biggest news of the day is that we now have trail names! Shotput arrived at Paradise Valley Cafe shortly after us and mentioned she'd been thinking about a trail name for me, and come up with Smiles. According to her, I'm always smiling, and even if not, my eyes always smile. I thought that was sweet, and a pretty decent trail name, given some of the names I've heard so far, though I'm not sure if the fact that my "eyes are always smiling" means I have lots of wrinkles! Even if so, the wise Jimmy Buffet reminds me that "wrinkles only go where the smiles have been." So, I suppose my name on the PCT is now Smiles. Brett actually earned his trail name today - Slosh! The sloshing is the sound his stomach made as we returned to the trail.
Speaking of sloshing, Slosh himself definitely had a rough afternoon. His new pack fits great, but seems to be cutting off circulation to the outside of his thighs, and they go numbs. Add to that a hot afternoon of climbing up the side of a mountain after a seriously copious amount of food, and he was not a happy camper. I found it ironic that my best day came on his worst so far, but for once it was nice to not be the one who was miserable all day! I'm sure he appreciated the break from hearing about my woes, as well. Hopefully, tomorrow is awesome for both of us.
Only 19 miles to Idyllwild, and I'm really looking forward to the time off. We were able to reserve a room which is great, because apparently they all book up during a long weekend. The cheapest room in town - only $50! - so I'm not expecting much. A shower will be a complete luxury at this point.
There is a huge wind storm expected tonight, so the campsite was carefully selected AWAY from any dead trees, etc. The winds are already kicking in, and it's loud! It's a little eerie. I also read a report there's a fire not far from here, so that freaked me out. Luckily, the winds are pushing the fire away from this direction for now. Something to keep an eye on though. Another night in bed by 8, and hopefully asleep by 9, with a lovely little afternoon nap in between. Yep, I now have the sleep schedule of a toddler!