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Day 4: When the Wind Blows

Day 4: When the Wind Blows

hiker.dykes Apr 26th, 2024
hiker.dykes's 2024 PCT Thru-Hike

Tentsite (59.7) - Scissors Crossing (77.0) | Mileage: 17.3 + 1.9 (Around Julian and to the Airbnb)

This morning was really hard. The wind was brutal over night and when we woke up, our yellow sleep pads were covered in a film of dirt that had blown in below the flies and through the mesh. I got up first and peed in the bushes behind the tent. My menstrual cup started to leak but it was cold and I was worried someone would walk by if I tried to change it, so I just stuffed a wad of toilet paper into my underwear and stood shivering outside the tent, helping Katie pack the bags. We made it out of camp before 7 for the first time! so I was feeling pretty good despite my frozen fingers as we rounded the first few curves. But the trail was uneven and rocky so it was hard to get into a rhythm with the poles, and the fog didn’t lift and as soon as we climbed up out of the water ditch where we camped the wind whipped and hit and swiped and slapped. It cut through my leggings and gloves and fleece and puffy and chilled my core. It seemed to come from every direction and would knock me off balance sideways into the cactus and bushes. It wasn’t raining, but the thick white clouds sat directly on top of the pokey green hills and big drops of water slid down our sleeves and packs. I walk-jogged down the trail, trying frantically to out pace the weather. If only we could descend off the ridge and get down down down onto the slopes where the sun shines and the delicate little purple flowers grow. Only 2 more miles. Or maybe 6. Either way. Just so the wind would die down enough for me to warm up and eat something and wipe away the fog and water obscuring my glasses and fix my increasingly sticky and soggy and bloody pants.

Katie called me back. She said I couldn’t run walk away every time I got stressed or uncomfortable on account of the fact that walking faster doesn’t fix anything and also she wasn’t wearing a bra? So we stopped despite the beating wind and put on our raincoats so our warm clothes wouldn’t keep getting wet and passed Mick and Wayne and sped on. Eventually we did come around a magic corner where the wind slowed and so did we. I still felt sad and uncomfortable and cold and hungry and frustrated and so sleepy and stuck so I cried a little bit to myself but then sweet smiley Brad who has three shorts but no pants from New Zealand came by so I had to smile and say hello and pretend that I was just wiping the rain from my glasses. And after that I actually felt okay. We sat in the sun on a bit piece of white granite overlooking the valley and smeared the thick zinc sunscreen on our filthy faces and legs. Katie mixed chocolate protein and two packets of instant coffee in the double sized peanut butter jar and we passed it back and forth. I was so happy and warm then. Mick and Wayne walked by and the face of Wayne’s Garmin said 9:30 and I remember thinking he must have left it in the wrong time zone because it felt so late in the day. But I checked my phone and it was right.

All afternoon, the views were stunning and the desert plants were so dense and colorful and plump and vibrant they looked more like coral than cactus. We talked while we walked about making friends and bike packing and FLETCHER and what would happen if we didn’t work real jobs and just wandered around like this until we turned thirty.

The trail wound down the foothills and across the desert floor where it ran along a fast road for about a mile. A guy called Rusty introduced himself under the underpass at Scissors Crossing. He was a thru-hiker too, but he wore big jeans and a heavy sweatshirt and carried a frameless backpack with a giant Walmart shopping bag hanging from one of the straps, swinging side to side across the backs of his knees with every step. We stood in the parking lot blinking away dust (it was still too windy for our hats) until Rangel the trail angel picked us up in his big Ford pickup. We threw our packs into the covered bed and he drove us up the 7 miles of highway with the most curves in the world (according to the Guinness Book of World Records) to Julian, a tiny ex-mining town with Wild West facades and big coniferous trees and low-hanging fog and Vermont vibes. We went to Mom’s first and found Mick and Wayne sitting in a booth. Katie ordered a bumbleberry pie with cinnamon ice cream and a hot cider and I ordered sugar-free apple pie with espresso ice cream and all of it was free because we’re hiking the PCT. Almost everyone in the crowded little shop was a hiker (there was a whole pile of packs along the back wall) so it was amazing they stay in business.

Katie made the rounds to find us accommodations for the night and learned from two women at the booth across that someone had rented an AirBnB two miles out of town. We popped into the gear shop across the street (the owner couldn’t believe it was our first thru hike because of my perfectly small pack) and then we went to Julian Beer Co and ordered a garlicky artichoke pizza. We sat and ate at the little bar next to Sweet Pea with the shoulder-length curls and the rainbow bandanna who works at Snoqualmie and then we walked backward through town toward a road called Sunshine Trail for the Airbnb. It was overcast and windy and a little cold in shorts, but the walk was really nice and we got to see the library and the high school and a cute apple farm. Three! different trucks pulled over and offered us rides back to the trail. People are so so nice to thru-hikers it’s really insane.

The Airbnb was this big farm house on a small hill with two actual mule deer in the front yard. There were maybe 10 other people hanging out watching TV. They all were a lot younger than the people we’ve been hiking with. We washed our dishes and shorts in the kitchen sink with the nice windows and trimmed our toe nails and showered (so much hair fell out of my head when I took it out of my braid) and sat on the floor and chatted a bit but the TV was loud and I wasn’t feeling very social. It was really late (9:30) and everyone was still hanging out so we went upstairs to the couch in the loft and fell asleep listening to all of the horrible gorey sounds of people getting brutally mutilated by Cocaine Bear.

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