May 4: This morning started out COLD! Campin at 9000 feet will do that. So it was up and out early for hiking and warming up. No problem there- it warmed up quickly as we had a 7500 foot descent.
Unlike the AT, which would have dropped 7500 feet in 8 miles ( not that the mountains went that high) the PCT took a leisurely, meandering 19iles for the descent. At times, it gets a bit frustrating- hiking sideways along an exposed ridge for 3/4 of a mile while looking down at the switchback you will take back another 3/4 mile- 15 feet below you. Occasionally you'd see a slide down between switchbacks where frustrated hikers decided to cut a half mile out of the hike. Myself, I did not. Because I care about erosion and I do not want the PCT to slide right off the mountain!
Then I started thinking about the extreme elevation changes we have been going through and how several years ago I experienced elevation sickness climbing Mt Shasta and in Kings Canyon driving between vista points. Maybe these slow gradual descents were, in fact fantastic acclimating tools? Preparing us for the higher elevations in the Sierra?
Hey, maybe the architects of the PCT really knew what they were doing! Thanks, guys.
So after the 19 mile easy (but very dry) start, we hit the bottom of our descent and the final 5 miles for the day? Near Carbazon, CA we passed through a 6 mile wide canyon between two 9000 mountain ranges. The result? Giant wind tunnel! Outside of the wind farms and the power lines going in and out, there was nothing much to see here except lots of loose, gravelly sand, sage brush (sniffle, sniffle) and lots of unhappy rattlesnakes. Getting blown all over the place. The last 5 miles were harder than the first 19!
At the end of that 5 miles was Ziggy and the Bear's. Ziggy and Bear are retired former thru hikers who recalled that section as being particularly difficult. So they bought a house near the PCT in this area specifically to host tired hikers! How freaking nice is that!
I'll tell you, the shower, hot chocolate, and relatively wind- free sleeping spot were greatly appreciated. As was the fruit and snickers bar. Plus, the nagging feeling that if Ziggy and the Bear were not there, I would have spent the night camped under the interstate with cars zooming overhead because it was the only place where you could get out of the wind!
Peace, love, and trail magic!