May 29, 2018 | miles 436.1 to 454.1 | Agua Dulce Sweetwater Grill
I woke up to Macguyver packing up and started getting my things together. Macguyver always leaves super early, so I tried to keep up with her packing.
And I still ended up way slower! I spent much of my morning eating and pouring my drink mix into my bottle only somewhat successfully. Felix had started his morning dance, but he was still chilling around camp, so I started after Macguyver at 6:40.
The first eight miles to the Kingdom of Acton were primarily downhill with a view of the saddle between LA and Palmdale in front of us. I made it to KOA using only 1 l of water- that from my breakfast mix, so I thought I’d be good to continue the remaining 10 miles to Agua Dulce.
How wrong I was. The next ten miles included much uphill before the descent down to highway 14, and I was already consuming more water than expected. However after a turn, I received a second wind of motivation. Macgyver was within sight! I timed my walk to my song, arriving to where she was just as my song ended. 5 minutes more to catch up I thought to myself.
I chased after her, slowly but surely closing the gap. One final uphill stood between me and her, send I was cruising. Or so I thought. Sudden nausea and exhaustion came over me. I collapsed to the ground right on the trail to ensure that I wouldn’t pass out. Somewhere between the heat, my attempts to ration water, and my pace, I must have overexerted itself.
I spent the next 3 minutes lying down and drinking extra water as fear for my life started to set in. I was 5 miles from water, tired and dehydrated with less than half a liter of water leftover. I’d normally be able to hike that distance with that much water without issue, but my earlier wave of exhaustion did left me with a hint of wariness. At the same time I couldn’t sit still. Under the unrelenting midday hunt, I would surely bake should I stop moving, ensuring my dehydration.
So onward I pushed, slowing down to try to minimize the amount of water I lost to perspiration. I could make it to the tunnel under highway 14 I told myself; then it’d only be 1.7 miles to water.
I found Macgyver in the tunnel, resting her feet from the long descent. She was wondering where I was, since I was within a minute just 3 miles earlier. Angel that she is, Macgyver shared some of her water with me before we set off toward Agua Dulce.
The PCT turns into a roadwalk on its way through Agua Dulce, passing through a lawn full of succulents before entering a cute town. Both of us hungry from the busy morning, we devoured an amazing meal at Sweetwater Grill, a local restaurant with burgers, sandwiches, and some amazing pasta. Whether it was the hunger or the food, the chicken penne was perhaps my favorite Italian in many months.
As we wrapped up lunch, trail angels from hiker heaven pulled up in a pickup for their regular shuttle. 17 hikers crammed into a little pickup for the 1.5 mile shuttle over to hiker heaven- a little Oasis on someone’s property that offered showers, free laundry, a roll of porta potties, and one of the best hiker boxes to date. Hikers were sprawled out across the lawn space set out for camps, and there we made our stay for the night.
Clean clothes and a shower make a world of difference.