Day 16: Monday, May 20

Cowboying by Mission Creek (PCT mi 230.7), walked 20.8 miles today. (I'm changing how I write the mileage stuff at the beginning of each entry to reflect the fact that there's often extra or supplemental walking not on the PCT itself, e.g. today I put in an extra mile going to the Whitewater Preserve and back)

Slept like a baby for the first time on the hike last night, up by 6:45 and out by 7:45 from Ziggy and Bear's. I was hiker 653 to come through their place this year. Felt sluggish for the first several miles and was sweating like a whore in church despite mild temps and a mild trail ... After puzzling for awhile I remembered from the AT that this always happens after town stops where a) I walk around a lot in flip-flops with no backpack, as I did yesterday in Palm Springs, and b) I get really cleaned up with a couple of showers. (a) makes me forget, briefly, how to walk with shoes and a pack on and (b) clears out all my pores for sweat to come gushing out at the first opportunity. After a few hours I was back to being my usual filthy hiking self.

Stopped for first lunch at the Whitewater Preserve, a hiker-friendly operation just off the trail that has shady picnic tables, water, toilets, camping, etc. Made extensive use of the first three, left around 11:45 to find that it had gotten dastardly hot in the last hour. Got 8ish miles done in ovenlike heat, stillness and sunshine before coming upon water and shade at the low end of Mission Creek, which the trail is still following. Read poetry and ate and drank in the shade til 5pm, then hiked out up the sweet-ass canyon in the evening light for another 5ish miles, saw a nice looking spot hard by the river and decided to call it a day here.

All along the canyon, I kept seeing what I could swear was poodle dog bush, the evil plant that sometimes gives people terrible skin reactions, but I can't ID it with 100% certainty and neither can the few other hikers I've asked about it. If I can't fit my swollen, rashy feet in my shoes in a few days, a la Spins last year, I guess I'll know I have it.