Cowboying a mile or so shy of Walker Pass Campground (PCT mi 650.3), walked 30.0 miles today
Woke up at the indulgent hour of 6:30 and, more indulgently, didn't leave til 7:30. Immediately recognized this as a mistake, as the road to get back to the trail went uphill, was mostly loose sand, there was zero breeze, it was already about 85 degrees, and the sun was straight in my face. Was laughing because the conditions were so shitty right off the bat. Had to take a break at the trail junction after 1.8 miles because I was so whupped.
Continued to be whupped by the next 7 miles of trail, which at least had a nice breeze and wasn't insanely hot, just hot. For 4 straight miles, mile 625-29, it was a sandbox and some of that was straight uphill, the flat parts weren't much easier. Would love to be a fly on the Joshua trees, so to speak, and watch thru-hikers go through that section all spring. I guarantee multiple people this year alone have sat down on the trail and started bawling. It's just so stupid and mean, that PCT.
Got to the massive cache at mp 631 at noon to find it well-stocked, also saw from the notes that the entire herd from yesterday had been through already. They had all planned to go to the spring I was at last night but changed their minds when they read notes that both big caches (615 and 631) were fully restocked yesterday. I still couldn't make myself rely so heavily on caches, not because of the risk of them being empty (minimal, given the info we all had), but because someone else afterward might need it more than me and I'd hate to be the guy who took out 2 gallons and helped empty the cache faster when I could have filled up at a natural source instead. There's also the perhaps foolish ideal/principle that I'm supposed to be having something close to a nature experience out here, ergo Plan A is always natural sources, and Plan B, or at least a supplement to Plan A, is caches. I'm probably one of the only people thinking this way by this point, as evidenced by the fact that I was totally alone all last night and today because of my decision to go off-trail for natural water. Oh well ... That's what I get for having silly hiking ideals.
Took over a gallon from the 631 cache anyway ... Much like at Golden Oak spring two days back, I drank a gallon of water over a 6-hour break in the shade and couldn't pee. This time I was also parched the instant I left, around 5:30, like I hadn't even made any progress in rehydrating myself. It was crazy hot in the afternoon, even with my shirt off in full shade and a breeze blowing I wasn't really comfortable. I want to know what it peaked at ... I would guess over a hundred. It was the hottest day so far of the hike, I'm just lucky I had a shady bower to rest in during the worst part.
Had about 20 miles to go when I took off ... the first 5 were hard, the rest were easy as could be. Last 11 happened after dark. All of this completely alone, I did not see a single other human today. No one camped by the trail as I night-hiked, no cars off in the distance during the day, no interaction whatsoever with any of the dozen people I met yesterday. I saw what I hope was a campfire wayyy off in the distance across the valley on my last descent, but otherwise I could be the last man on Earth. Didn't talk once today, not even to myself. When was the last time that happened? When's the next time it will? It seems extremely rare, for me or anyone.
Stopped at about 1am just before the Walker Pass campground, where there is probably a water source for tomorrow morning. The crazy dry stretches calm down a little from here the rest of the way to Kennedy Meadows, so I will hopefully not have to do any more insane night runs.