By the end of May, Courtney—my daughter—has hiked over 700 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail.
The LA Aqueduct and a huge wind turbine energy farm forms a 24-mile brutal section of the PCT that crosses the Mojave Desert with no reliable water sources. Many hikers choose to hike it at night because the temperature is cooler and they can carry less water than if they hiked in the heat of the day. Plus, hiking 24 miles in the heat of the Mojave day is harsh. Courtney’s group purchased glow sticks to help light their way. However, the glow from the sticks provided just enough illumination to locate each other but not much more. It was too dark to see the wind turbines at night, except for their eerie red blinking lights that gave the hikers chill bumps as they hurried through the area.
Courtney is wearing the glow necklace in the center and top of the picture with the purple and teal glow.
The uneven terrain of the trail is a source of knee and ankle injuries. A couple of people Courtney met on trail had to leave due to sprains. Hiking with a 30-pound pack is tough enough when a hiker is healthy, and definitely exacerbates injuries. After her foot slipped on a rock, Courtney suffered a minor knee injury. This happened right before they needed to hunker down in Wrightwood, CA for two days due to an approaching snowstorm. Her knee improved with rest and she was able to continue. The snowy forecast resulted in a hiker backup in Wrightwood for a few days as hikers from the north waited out the storm and those from the south spent the night after racing through to beat it. This has been a record year for snowfall around the PCT.
Once the storm ended, the groups heading north trekked through the snow. The hikers’ shoes and socks get cold and wet from the snow, and the shoes freeze overnight. So, the next day is like hiking with your feet in a block of ice. The highlight of snow hiking was glissading. A new word for me. It means the act of descending a steep snow-covered slope in a controlled slide on one’s feet or buttocks. I used to do that back when I went snow skiing, except my descent was not controlled. Glissading allows hikers to descend the slopes quicker. However, glissading on one’s bottom results in cold and wet clothing.
The hikers enjoy hitting the hiker towns and eating a warm meal. Most meals on the trail
consist of dried food packets. Laundry is often accomplished with a bucket of water, and soap. Yet for some strange reason these hikers are having the time of their lives.
Kennedy Meadows, CA, represents the end of the desert section of the PCT. As hikers enter the general store at Kennedy Meadows, the other hikers in the store applaud them. On May 30th, Jay drove 14 hours each way to pick Courtney up at Kennedy Meadows. She will spend a couple of weeks with us in June and explore the Oregon Coast Trail. More about that in July’s blog.