May 11, 2018 | miles 26 – 48.7 | next to Penny Pines Campground
Second day! I started feeling arch pain in my right foot almost immediately, setting the tone for the day. Brandon and I set off from camp shortly after dawn after Felix, Hardtime, and Heaps.
Brandon and I started our ascent into Mt. Laguna together for the first 8 miles, but my arch pain slowed me to the point where he eventually marched on ahead into the distance.
After a short while, I ended up coming across Gautam and Felix, who had chosen to rest before an uphill to dry their quilts. Together, we finished our walk to Mt. Laguna by 1 pm. To think I had originally planned on staying at Laguna for my second night!
I joined a throng of hikers at the Mt. Laguna cafe where we feasted on burgers, fries, salad, and mac ‘n’ cheese. Unfortunately they had run out of ingredients for a “Brandon Burger” – a monstrosity that I jealously watched Brandon fittingly eat per his namesake as I enjoyed my own also delicious burger.
After lunch I took a nap in the Mt. Laguna campground while laying out Heaps’ and my quilts to dry in the sun. I woke up when Heaps came to grab my quilt, and packed my stuff up to leave only to find that the crowd at Mt. Laguna had already left.
Behind again! I quickly set off after them, ignoring the growing pain in my right foot. Fortunately, the section past Mt. Laguna is one of favorites yet. After three miles of sweeping views over the surrounding hills, you find yourself walking along a ridgewalk overlooking the sawtooth range. The entire trek was unbelievably windy with sustained winds over 30 mph and gusts much higher.
James and Sam also caught up to me, and we walked another mile or so together before finding Heaps, Gautam, and Felix hiding from the wind behind a bush. We learned from Heaps that the next seven miles or so were more ridgewalk, and with only a couple hours if sunlight leftover we were hesitant to continue. Eventually we decided to bunker down – Felix and I set up our bivies where we were hiding while everyone else found shelter at a nearby campground with a spigot.
Felix and I spent the rest of the evening watching the clouds hurry overhead and in the distance, wondering if we’d get rain overnight. Weather forecasts were promising though, so we decided to make do with just our bivies. Felix shared with me some of his experiences from previously hiking Te Aroroa down in New Zealand.
A moment of calm later revealed the stars overhead, and I learned from Felix that they call the Big Dipper the “Big Wagon” and the brightest star, Sirius, the “Morning Star” in Germany. Even then, I knew the moment would be imprinted on my mind forever – one of what I hope to be many memorable snapshots of the PCT. It still seemed so surreal to be on the Pacific Crest Trail, but I already knew that I love hiking with these guys.
- Tough day. Right foot arch is really hurting. Had to push through the pain.
- Woke up early but took a while to break camp. Walked first 8 miles with Brandon before he left me in the dust; foot not doing me any favors.
- Thankfully made it to Laguna by 1 pm. Enjoyed a great burger and laid down for a while drying my quilt. Got up to find everyone had already left, so I had to chase them down.
- Trail after Laguna has been my favorite so far, but the wind also picked up. Starting Mile 45 you reach an outlook over the dessert, which was unbelievable. You walk along the ridge the whole way down. Unfortunately, I encountered sustained winds of over 40 mph with crazy gusts, making hiking tough and I could hardly take photos.
- Finally got to water and found my friends hiding from the wind. Sadly, I missed my chance to hike with John Z., but it still was great to meet and talk with him on so many occasions. Next 10 miles were on ridges, so we bunker down for the night. Felix and I set up a bivy where we bunkered, while Heaps and Gautam found a nearby campsite.
- Felix and I stargazed and chatted. It was a beautiful night sky so we also chatted about the stars. Found out that the Big Dipper is called the Big Wagon in Germany. The brightest star is the Morning Star.
- I’m going off-trail for a wedding but I really don’t want to lose my friends. I need to work out logistics.
- I love hiking with these guys. This trip still feels so surreal.
- 3: 40 am – we’re getting drizzle or dewed on – high winds continue. Felix pitches his hexamid tarp and I wrap myself in a tarp burrito. Felix says mist should go away by 7 am.