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Day 9: So This Is Paradise

Day 9: So This Is Paradise

hiker.dykes May 1st, 2024
hiker.dykes's 2024 PCT Thru-Hike

Tentsite (144.0) - Tentsite (166.6) | Mileage: 22.6 + 2.0 (To Paradise Valley Cafe!)

First day over 20 miles!

Woke up and actually got moving decently early (5:50 and 6:45) becuase trying to get to Paradise Valley Cafe (PVC) in the morning because Mick says it’s known for breakfast. Packed up quicker than normal and first few miles were nice. Huge white clouds hung over the valley and slowly receded like the tide. Skirted the ridge (again) so some small up and down but pretty shaded (so so nice to get moving before the sun is all the way up and it’s hot)

Stopped to poop and had a minor freakout because we ran out of toilet paper, but it turns out a stick works just as well plus you don’t have to pack it out, i.e. ZERO WASTE. May need to implement this into our regular routine. Caught up with Julia (so much earlier than yesterday woohoo) and hiked down the sunny side trail with the wooden power lines and the yellow flowers together to PVC. The restaurant was way smaller than I expected. All the hikers were sitting outside on patio. We saw Mick and Wayne and Madi for the first time since Warner Springs but they were hitching into Idyllwild after breakfast and zeroing so we said we’d see them the next day in town. Julia grabbed a plate from a recently vacated table and ate the leftover omelet and potatoes because no waste. Apparently she has an even stronger belief system than me. The waiter came by carrying someone else’s leftover toast and she to eat it but he said no and definitely assumed she was just hungry and had no money because he brought a fresh toast for her later which was nice in theory but made her very mad. We ordered a banana bread beer (decent) and a spinach and feta omelet and pancakes. The menu was odd because they aggressively advertised brands and frozen stuff like [Tyson logo] Chicken Fingers. We sat for a while with Poppins and Queen Bee and then headed back to trail.

Hot hot hot and lots of uphill. Between 1 and 4 pm every day, I feel like a walking zombie. Never thought hiking was more like push ups. I do 10 and I think wow that was easy I’m so strong but I don’t want to do any more and then I do 2 or 3 more okay and think that’s it but I told myself I would do 20 so I lose any sort of form and wobble side to side and manage the rest at half speed with frequent grunts before collapsing. We went from sandy desert to boulder fields to an exposed rocky ridge (not much shade but we found a nice spot up on a boulder below a rock wall to eat beans and quinoa and a protein cookie. Realized the lid to our mega peanut butter jar was missing so we need to replace it in town and pick up a lot of trash this stretch to compensate for the litter. I had a bit of a meltdown because so so tired, but Katie was nice to me and said we’re strong and good and ahead of almost everyone which I guess was true for the first time in days. Unexpected pretty views and big trees. Got cooler and started to feel better and faster but elevation gain still really hard. Developed a very real fear that my body would tear at the hip and leave one of my legs just stuck in the ground like when you fold paper back and forth too many times and then it just tears apart.

Caught Sweet Pee (learned the name is for peeing not peas) and he suggested a site 4ish miles away so we hiked together the last few hours. We climbed up onto ridge line with amazing views of Palm Springs and Coachella and the mountains up ahead. There was very lush, green undergrowth and these beautiful, brilliant white bush skeletons with smooth pointy interlocking branches that looked like giant bleached coral. Then I realized they were dead and had been petrified (does that happen?) in a huge wildfire and that was sad. Footing was hard and views were good so it took a while but I was really hungry and wanted something wet and cold but we only had dry dense salty stuff. We dropped through a grove of huge trees and the huge mountains were right there and dramatic and dark and pokey below the setting sun and I thought a dragon should live in them. We bushwhacked through dense dense overgrowth so the last mile took a really long time. Not sure why all of the rest of the trail is maintained so well.

We set up our tent under a tree and cold soaked chili and quinoa and textured vegetable protein because we were low on water and ate on a rock overlooking Palm Springs with Sin Nombre who just happened to be there. Learned he’s 41 and from Pennsylvania and gay and moving in with his partner for the first time after many years of distance for work. Also learned Sweet Pee’s real name is Brock. The lights all came on and there’s so much development down there wow. It looks way more remote and desert and rural during the day. Everything was quiet except for some birds and the stars.

Also gila monsters are my favorite part of the desert! Thanks to Ethan Smith’s Instagram post about the AZT because I didn’t know what they were called before.

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