May 22nd- Day 31- 14.3 miles from Buckhorn Camp on Endangered Species Detour mile 3.1 (between miles 390.2 and 394) to Sulphur Springs Trail Camp at mile 406.6
I get my food from the bear box and go to the bathroom, and am packed quickly with my new groundsheet. I head through the campground to the trailhead that will take me back to the PCT. I'm hiking by two dayhikers and two other thru-hikers for a while before they drop behind. Soon I'm back on the PCT, along a green mossy stream. My feet ache from walking on asphalt on the road walk yesterday.
The trail has been a steady up with very few stretches of down since Cajon Pass, and today is no different. It's hot and I put my head down for the most part and push through it. I'm walking through sparse, dry pine forest, along the ridges and flanks of endless pine-covered hills. I don't see anyone all morning, which is super nice.
I am startled by a rattlesnake on the side of the trail as it moves away. It's about two and a half feet long, black, with a blonde rattle that sticks into the air as it moves unhurriedly in the shade. I watch it for a while and eat some string cheese, then move on.
I hike around a girl named Kristen as we get close to the 400 mile mark, even though we don't really talk much. I see the marker and take a picture, then move on. I've been hiking for a month today. 400 miles in a month- I'm pretty happy with that. 400 times 5.5 (the months I'll be out here, about) is 2,200. With my faster speed in Oregon and Washington I'll be set to finish on time. We'll see my time through the snow in the Sierra...
I find two girls I met in Wrightwood, Hop-Along and Kyra, at Camp Glenwood a half mile later. It's basically just a locked-up building with some outhouses, picnic tables, and a faucet that sprays everywhere when I try to fill up my dirty water bag. Hop-Along is hilarious, and Kyra is super quiet. They decide to walk to the Highway 2 crossing in another half mile, in the slim, tragic hope that there will be trail magic. At the very least there will be a trash can, an outhouse, some picnic tables, and shade.
I join them and we goof around and talk and crack up. We sit in the shade by the front of the outhouse and eat our food. Kira and I make some ramen. The outhouse vent is right by me and whenever I talk it echoes back at me. We discuss Gatorade and whether it actually tastes good; I don't think it tastes very good at all, but I say I'd definitely go for some right now. I mention that I don't have any earphones, and it turns out Hop Along has an extra pair that she upgraded from, and she gives me her old ones. Yay! I can't wait to listen to music at night, and maybe some podcasts.
There aren't many people driving by. A couple of dayhikers we saw hiking here pass by to use the bathrooms and tell Hop-Along and Kira they won't make it to Canada at the pace they're going, even though they're both recovering from knee injuries so they have to go slow; they also made rude comments about their pack sizes. Rude-jerks.
A car pulls up and a guy hops out. "Would you guys like some Gatorade?" he asks.
"Yes!" we say, and he hands us two big bottles of cold Gatorade. There was trail magic at this parking lot after all! We just had to wait for it.
We eventually head out in the heat, Hop Along and Kira right behind me. We catch up to Swayed, Larry and Amanda as they're filling up their water bottles from a small cache. I hiked with Larry and Amanda coming down from Baden Powell. We hike in front at first, and then they leapfrog us as we stop at yet another outhouse along the trail to pee.
There is a ton of Poodle Dog Bush along the trail here. It looks like such a friendly plant! Hop Along, Kira and I catch up to Swayed, Larry and Amanda again and we form a big hiker train. I hike in front because they designate me as the fastest, even though my legs are sore and tight right now. Kira and Hop Along continue hiking, and I go with Swayed & Co. to a campsite with picnic tables and outhouses along a creek.
I'm fully planning on making some dinner here and then hiking some more, but soon there are people trickling in and I don't have the motivation to leave. I hang out with Swayed, Larry, Amanda and Godongo at a picnic table, with a big group at the picnic table over. They're all hilarious and awesome. Larry and Amanda are from Canada and Larry is always saying "Eh?" At the end of his sentences.
I make a ziploc of chocolate pudding after my dinner and snacking, and I'm too full to finish it, so I trade it for some high chews with Shakedown at the other table.
As we're getting ready for bed, some puffy little cloud cover is coming over the mountain. Swayed teases me about me cowboy camping, saying it's going to rain even though it's obviously not. His 2-person tent is right next to mine, so I tell him I know who I'm crashing if it starts raining. We all crack up. I really enjoy those three. I think I need to find some people like them, who aren't super into drinking and weed and partying and other boring things.
I'm sitting in my sleeping bag in the dark, putting my new earphones from Hop Along in, when the plug snaps in half. I stare at it for a few seconds and then resign myself to another couple of days without music. I'll finally stop being lazy and get some in Agua Dulce.
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