We woke up at 5:00 from the alarm clock on our watches that we had pre-set the evening before. We usually just wake up when we wake up but because we were camping right on the trail we wanted to be packed before anyone had a chance to stumble upon us. When we started packing the sun was still behind the mountain ridges on the opposite side of the valley coloring all the sky above it bright orange. It was beautiful and the sun came over the ridge just as we were finishing our breakfast and we could instantly feel the warmth that it laid upon us. The air was still very brisk so we couldn’t just pretend to be snakes (reptiles?) and wait until the sun would warm us up; we had to get going.
It was a big day ahead, 30km (19mi) and 1800m of ascent, and we wanted to get into Wrightwood before 17:00 o’clock. It was due to the closing hours of a Mtn Hardware store that has a book with contacts of all the hiker hosts (trail angels) in the town. If we didn’t make it there by that time we wouldn’t get the contacts and pretty much sleep somewhere in the bush, if unlucky. Therefore the importance of our mission for the day was outlined very clearly.
The hike started with uphill and continued like that for pretty much the rest of the day. It felt like it was never ending – it continued up even when you thought you are already on top. However, we much rather prefer going up the hill than down, it’s just easier for knees and joints, plus it’s the best training you can have – going uphill with a backpack. Even though we still had a couple of days of food worth with us because of our shopping madness in Big Bear, the backpacks did not feel that heavy. And the best part of going uphill is always the views: they just get better and better the higher you go. Other than that the hike was pretty uneventful, we met a couple of hikers on the way and had a small chat but that was about it.
There was an important decision we had to make though: once we got to the Acorn trail junction we had to decide whether to go down that – 5km (3mi) and 600m of descent – and we get straight into the town, or to continue 10km (6mi) and 800m of descent to the Inspiration point from which we could hitch a ride into the town. The dilemma was that if we took the Acorn trail we could get sooner to the town, but we would then have to get back up it with all our new resupplies to get back on the trail at the point we left. If we continued to Inspiration point we would get later to the town but we could then just be dropped off right at the trail where we left. We decided that we like the PCT miles more than the other side trail miles so we continued on towards Inspiration point.
Once we got there we stood on the roadside for maybe 2 minutes and got picked up by a nice lady who was heading straight into Wrightwood and she knew about the Mtn Hardware store so we got dropped off right at the entrance, lovley!
It was around 16:00 o’clock when we rolled in and asked straight for the book. The next 20 minutes we were just calling all the people on the list but everyone seemed to be either already full or had some other plans. And then finally a guy named Rich Emanuel gave us a positive answer, he sounded enthusiastic and came to pick us up from the store in less than 5 minutes, awesome.
Rich lives alone because he enjoys the solitude of a quiet mountain town. Even though he is a doctor in a clinic and interacts with people every day the PCT season is his peak social activity period when he just likes to host hikers and enjoy their stories. He is a really nice guy and he used to do a lot of mountaineering, hiking, rock climbing and other activities, but the age and various injuries have currently made it harder for him to get back on the trail. But he is working to fix that and still drives a motorcycle, sweet. We are so glad that all the other trail angels couldn’t host us and Rich could, we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way!
The evening in town never gets old: shower, laundry and food, after which you eat some more food and just to make it for sure you eat even more food and then a little bit extra, yummi. However, this town day was different: we got to sleep in the bed for the first time since we started the PCT (thanks Rich)! I had forgotten how comfortable the beds are: must acquire one, one day.
The plan for tomorrow is a zero day, which means no hiking other than to get to and from food, we can do it!
The sleep in the bed was so good that we slept until 7:30. It was Sunday and because it was a zero day there could not be any less rush. It’s a bit funny how the time on the trail works as 7:30 feels already a late wake up. Even though I felt like just laying in the bed the whole day, my hunger had other plans for me and I was putting bagels in the oven and frying up some Beyond Meat ‘chicken’ strips at around 8:00, great.
Rich grabbed a cup of coffee and a bagel and went to the Church as it was Sunday. But he doesn’t do it because he is very religious – he just likes to hang out with the other people that go to church on Sundays. Apparently they all pretty much went there for the same reason…sounds like an interesting thing this ‘church’, maybe should try one day?
We just continued our breakfast and as we had all the time we could possibly want we just caught up on some TV shows from our previous lives, such as Silicone Valley, which was a nice change. After watching all 3 episodes of the new season 5 we were like, emm, what do we do now? Should we just go hike? Luckily Rich came back and we started chatting about everything and then we turned to his new tent he had just bought online which was now just laying in the corner of the room. The tent was our previous one that I lost in the jungle: the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2. He said he had difficulties to assemble it so we threw ourselves at it like hungry wolves and assembled it in around a minute. Rich was a bit stunned by our efficiency, but I just fell back in love with that tent – the materials, the frame, the fly, the pegs – it all just felt so much better than our current one, the REI Quarter Dome 2. It might have been just because it was brand new but something clicked, I was just so excited to see that tent again. About 20 minutes later we were on the way to REI store at Rancho Cucamonga. The great thing about the REI is that they are supper flexible and friendly on their return policy so you can pretty much return anything if you are not satisfied with it. The thing was that our current tent wasn’t bad it just didn’t feel as good as the previous one. So technically we weren’t satisfied; also it went flat twice (collapsed) in front of our eyes during a slightly higher than normal wind speeds. Well, we payed the 50$ difference as the MSR was slightly more expensive and now we were fully satisfied with the purchase of our new house!
On the way back to Wrightwood we went to the grocery store to resupply for the trail – rice and beans, oats and Cliff bars. Once back we re-packed all the food and it was lunchtime. Wrightwood is an awesome hiker-friendly town so in Wrightwood Market you can get a free (vegan) hot-dog if you are hiking the PCT. That’s where we went first; then we went to the Mtn Hardware store again to buy some leukotape and sign the book, which we had forgotten the day before and we got a free PCT badge for that. After that it was time for coffee and wifi so we went to the Village Grind, a lovley wine, beer and coffee place with live music. We sat there until it was dinner time and the plan was to meet up with Team Seattle. We did that at the Mile High Pizza to catch up on the trail tales and to celebrate our new house.
After coming back home we met two additional hikers who had just arrived, so we spent our evening just sitting, talking and telling stories. After such a marvelous day what other perfect ending could you have than to simply sleep in the bed?
Tomorrow the weather promises to be very cold and slightly windy so our zero day was just at the perfect time. Tomorrow we get back out there and get slapped on our faces, hard.