Day 3 - 16miles
Well what a night....I eventually dozed off and woke around midnight to a sky full of stars. I watch them as a few thin clouds pass between me and distant twinkles before I return to the world of sleep.
Then I awake feeling damp. I peer from my nest and feel wet clouds engulfing me. This goes on for the majority of the night. I pull out the outer part of my tent and turn myself into a human burrito attempting the shield myself from the water droplets. I gaze up and see blinking stars in the dark sky between the intermittent clouds as they fly over me. I doze till 5 am and then pack up. My tent is wet, my sleeping bag is wet, I'm wet and as soon as I climb up and out from where I slept I am instantly hit by actual rain and wind, the combination turning into an icy blast. My hands begin to freeze. I pine for the sun and follow the trail feel miserable. I check the water report and see it's 10 miles till my next water and I'm soaked. I'll have little opportunity to dry my things in this weather so I decide to get off the trail. I see a detour leading back to the main road and make my way to the campsites. There should be a water tap and a shower block. Maybe I can have a warm shower, the mere thought of it filling me with joy. I pull out my puffy jacket and hike on into the campsite. A dense fog has filtered to the campsite and the ground squelches beneath my feet which are sodden. I pass by a campsite notice board and see signs reading...
"WARNING DO NOT DRINK THE TAP WATER - ECO-LIE PRESENT"
My heart sinks. Bugger! Does that mean the showers will be closed too? I walk on and pass by a trio of deflated tents. The wind had won and I could see peoples sleeping bags inside. Their tents laying directly over them, water easily making it's way inside. I walk on and reach the shower block. It's locked. I sit in the dry-ish doorway and open my tin of mini sausages congealed in a white paste, I don't finish them. The wind picks up and I huddle against my bag and put my thermals on which are dry for now. I zone out for a bit and an hour passes. The tent trio emerge slowly from their dismal shelters and pile everything into their car and drive away. Eventually I repack my bag and head out into the wet fog. I've decided to walk back to Laguna and go from there. My feet feel like tiny ice blocks as they pound the concrete road. Cars pass by whipping water my way. Least by walking I begin to feel warm again. All I can see is fog up ahead.
I hear a car from behind slow and it pulls in. I catch it up and see the smiling face of a man. His car is full of boxes and gear.
"Do you want a lift? I'm heading to Laguna"
"Yes please!" I say
My natural instinct of getting in a car with a stranger left at the door. I slide in hoisting my bag onto my lap. The car owner, a man called Dave revs up the heating and I begin to get the feeling back in my hands.
"You made a good choice to head back the village" Dave said "It's only due to get worse"
"O Right" I say pleased to be out the cold and moving fast than 2.5 miles an hour. Dave, it turns out to be the owner of the mountain supplies shop and invites me to spend the morning there. He lets me dry off inside, starting up the wood burner and helps me strewn my wet belonging all over his shop, including hanging my sleeping bag. My feet are happy to be dry again. He boils a kettle in the flames and makes me a hot chocolate. We chat about the trail and he mentions about a freak snow storm which happened only 2 week earlier.
Then the door opens and two hikers enter, it's Stefan and Kyler. They got in last night and camped at the campsite, they don't know where Darby and Dan are. Dave checks the weather for us. He says he runs the store intermittently and as soon as he hears of a decent snow fall in the Sierras he closes up shop and goes skiing. Even though the items in his shop were a tad pricey for me he offered invaluable advice to hikers and did pack-shake downs for free! Which lightened the loads of some hikers by 10 lbs!
He recommended that if we were planning on hiking out today that we get to a spot 17 miles from here which offered shelter from the winds. We chilled for a bit in the restaurant, a few other late starting hikers had gathered there. Kyler and I decided to head out for 11:30 am. It was a little annoying to be hiking the same 5 miles again but hey-ho.
It was just as horrible as when I left it a few hours earlier but the rain soon eased, only the wind keeping up a gale. We were suddenly joined a lady with a strong Irish accent. She'd hike the Appalachian trail last year - 2,200 miles up the east coast of America and she'd decided to hike the PCT this year. She was in a mad rush needing to be finished by early September. Which I calculated doing at least 27 miles everyday till then with hardly any zero days. I was at the front of the pack and felt that I had to keep up a decent pace. After storming along for 2 hours I paused for a break, Kyler joined me and the Irish lady jogged along. We crash hard, devouring cereal bars with ease.
"I'm glad you took a break" Kyler said "I was debating it"
We hike on, my leg muscles already beginning to seize up from the little respite. The weather was still dismal and we came across two guys called Rite and Matt. We walked as a group till we reached mile 56 where we think the sheltered area will be. There are large boulders dotted everywhere and few sunken sections off the trail. We head down into the shallow parts and pitch our tents. I use both parts of my tent and climb inside. It's only 6 pm but seems later due to the darken sky. I hope I sleep better to night. I scribble a few notes down into my journal and zip up my sleeping bag. I can hear the tiny patter of rain as it crashes into my tent and slowly drift off into the land of nod.