Day 38 5/21
Mile mark 641-663.9
South Mclevers Spring Road to Joshua Tree Spring
It’s around noon and I’m flying down Walker pass. My fast pace is because I’ve heard Yogi, the author of the popular PCT guide book, is down at the bottom making pancakes and burgers. As I approach the bottom I don’t see any cars and my pace slows.
At the bottom I find no treats. Thinking I may be early I sit at a picnic table and am joined by some fellow thrus. We knew we may be a couple days early as the herd is still a few weeks behind us. When we’re about to give up a van rolls up. It’s not Yogi, but they have chips and give us a few bags.
I set up off the other side of the pass and see the growing grey clouds overhead. The rain starts in intermittent spits and feels refreshing as I generate heat going up the climb.
Eventually the climb levels out and I’m getting hungry so I’m decide to take a break. The rain has started to pick up now and I’ve got my rain jacket on. When I get up, a shiver runs through my body and I realize I’ve sat for too long and lost too much heat.
I pick up my tempo but the rain and wind does too and starts turning to sleet. I’m on a ridge and there’s no water or spots to camp for seven miles so I trudge on. The trail has started to descend and I’m not generating heat. I stop quickly and put on the few layers that I can get wet to try and warm up.
The added layers don’t help and now my rain jacket has wetted out. My shorts and shoes are also soaking and I feel the water seeping up into my shirt. When the wind blows hard I feel icy tentacles wrapping around my chest. I check how much further I have to go and there’s still six miles down hill.
I begin to get nervous when I shiver. It doesn’t stick around, but I decide to further pick up my pace and begin a slow run down the mountain. As I run, I start to repeat to myself over and over again what I’ll do when I stop “put up tarp, crawl under, strip wet layers, put on dry layers, crawl in sleeping bag, heat water for dinner.”
When I get down to the spring and campsite the rain has let up and I’m a bit warmer. I follow my plan and when I’m in my sleeping bag I feel a little shaken up. I felt confident in my gear, but now I’m not sure I can handle cold rain. The trail has knocked me down a peg.