Day 49: Saturday, June 22

Tenting at my own special tentsite (PCT mi 873.1), walked 21.4 miles today

Got walking around 7:45 and the first five miles were so easy they shouldn't even count--the gentlest of downhills. Walked through real forest for a piece until getting to the side trail for Muir Trail Ranch. This is a ranch that super rich Californians apparently visit and/or rent out in the summer, but the location is such that JMTers and some PCTers send resupply boxes there, even though they charge a modest $55 holding fee. I reread the description of the place in the Yogi book and it said they let hikers charge electronics and that sounded good to me, so I headed on down. They were very friendly to me, I charged my phone, ate some lunch (my own), scored a Mountain House Chili Mac from the hiker box, and read the register to learn that the Israelis had just left there this morning. Also got some water and mingled with the staff and one of the dogs, Jax. A good-vibes type of place ... I had gotten the impression from things I read before the trip that there was mutual enmity between hikers and the MTR people, but I experienced just the opposite.

Left there and climbed straight uphill back to the PCT, then almost straight uphill a few more miles to Selden Pass. Easy pass by the standards established so far, no snow, nice and sunny and green, but at the top there were terrible mosquitos for the first real time so far ... I swear the first one that buzzed by my ear said, "We're heeeere" in its dreadful mosquito-y drone because it was that level of bug ambience or worse for the rest of the day, and presumably it will stay like this for a few hundred miles. Definitely buying a head net in Mammoth, assuming people haven't already wiped out all the outfitters' head net supplies.

Mosquitos, or musquetors if I'm channeling my Meriwether Lewis journal-writing skills, change everything ... Walked much longer without a break than I would've liked and only took one 3.5 miles later, after the Bear Creek ford (knee-deep) when there was a spot inexplicably devoid of bugs. They returned after that, I thought about just walking until I caught up to the Israelis, wherever they are, but that could have easily been 10 miles past here and I was tired. For the second day in a row I walked alone the entire time, only today I didn't even run into anyone else from the PCT however briefly, just the odd weekender coming the other way. One of them was playing a ukulele as he walked, very competently I might add. I have no idea how this wave-and-trough thing works, because three days ago I couldn't have sneezed without hitting a PCTer, and now I'm so roneryy, a rittle ronery.

Calculated yesterday on one of my breaks that if I want to reach Canada by September 20, I have to average 19.8 mpd from here on out, or 18 mpd to finish by October 1. I immediately wondered if that was a good thing to know or not, but as soon as I saw it on the calculator screen, I couldn't un-know it. I think when people say the PCT is a huge mental challenge, they mean something like this ... At some point everyone realizes that the amount of work they have to do to finish by winter is going to require a massive sustained effort. 20 mpd is certainly achievable, but now every time I sit down for a break or want to be a lazy ass in town, I'm going to think about that number, and that may wear on me after awhile. I'm sure it will for everyone who really intends to finish, once they run the numbers for themselves. I just hope I can balance an embrace of the present with the background knowledge that I've always got to be moving.