Rounding Out the Month With Bonus Miles

Location: Sweetwater Cafe, Agua Dulce, CA

Day: 32

Cumulative Miles: 454.5

Avocados Consumed: 24

Showers Taken: 8

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What do they say about being a mom? The days are long but the years are short? Well, thats what hiking feels like (hah!). We hike for about 10 hours everyday, see so many wonders, meet new people, catch up with people we’ve been leap-frogging since Mexico, savor the shade, filter muddy water, slap duct tape on our blisters, and enjoy every moment. The moment, however, that trumps all others is when I’m in my tent in the evening, and take off my sports bra. It’s the best feeling in the world. If someone were to tell me I could sleep in the worlds most comfortable princess bed that night (but have to keep my bra on), or take my sports bra off…I wouldn’t hesitate, I’d rip my sweaty crusty bra off and sleep on a jagged rock with a yucca box spring.

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For whatever reason, the Mile 55 Crew likes to really swing for the fences. The best answer for this is that we were all bred in the Northeast, we are strong-minded purists that want nothing to do with easy things! Shortcuts? Safer options? Less miles? Us? No way!

The crew celebrates with the "local brew" (Tecate)

The crew celebrates with the “local brew” (Tecate)

Okay that’s just what I like to think, but sometimes it’s due to being oblivious to reroutes because we’re too busy singing and chatting about Tom Hanks movies. The main event this week was a 3 Mile PCT closure in order to save the Yellow-Frog who is on the brink of extinction (oh no!). A fellow hiker from Israel (Animal-Style) said it best, “WHY, in your country, can’t we CO-EXIST with thee YELLOW FROG??” Now I’m not the biggest fan of domesticated animals, but wild animals rock, so I think it’s pretty admirable of them to go to such lengths to save the yellow frog, ya know?

The Devils chair, part of the bonus 20 miles

The Devils chair, part of the bonus 20 miles

The PCT gave us 2 options, a 7 mile road walk (in which a lot of people hitched) or a 20 Mile trail detour of loose rock, ridges, and punishing steep climbs. We barely discussed it, of course we are going to hike 20 extra miles! In case you have trouble understanding, road walking sucks. It added an extra day, and only 2 other people we know did it (an awesome young couple from Ohio, shout-out to BOOM and FAYE!). It ruled, we finally had the PCT to ourselves, the way we imagined it. As you can guess, the trail is quite crowded in these early stretches. Once we hit Northern California we may start dropping out due to mental instability, physical woes, home sickness, or because we just can’t kick it anymore. But for now, hikers galore! It’s a social scene, for sure.

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After completing the detour, we realized no one else did it. We awarded ourselves 10 PCT points for the extra effort. Everyone called us crazy, just how we like it. There was also another detour later in the week that we just had no idea existed. There is a plant similar to Poison Oak, but called “Poodle-Dog Bush.” The name is so erroneous that I awarded it none of my time. It’s pretty heavy in a certain 5 mile stretch so people took a road to stay safe. We all wondered why we didn’t see a soul for close to 10 miles that day. Then we saw people walking on an adjacent forest service road, and got clued in. “Ohhhhh, yeah no we walked right through it! Shorts and a tee! Here’s to hoping we don’t break out in full body rashes tomorrow!” Well that’s what went through my mind, everyone else was kind of skiddish about it and more careful. There were a lot of green plant varieties that day, so not knowing what it even looks like, I gave it no further thought and charged through whatever got in my way (I’m so tough). And really? Poodle-Dog bush? Who named it that? Ridiculous.

This is chuckles, not poodle dog bush

This is chuckles, not poodle-dog bush

We headed out last Sunday (Mothers day) and one mile in we saw this.

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At a picnic area there was the nicest family. Two years ago, Jason (strawberry) thru-hiked the PCT. He asked his mom what she wanted to do for Mother’s Day and she said she wanted to provide trail magic and meet the hikers this year. Her mother came as well (90). They had so many treats, sodas, and she was boiling eggs in soy sauce as we walked up. It was adorable, generous, and heart-warming.

Mother's Day magic ?

Mother’s Day magic ?

OH! And then we saw the BRIT FAMILY ROBINSON! My favorite fellow hikers! We were lucky enough to see them several times this week and I particularly enjoyed one water stop where I asked Jack (captain obvious) my most burning and important question: What do you guys call a ‘fart?’ Growing up my mom and dad told us ‘fart’ was a bad word, so we called them Pineapples. With them being British and polite and adorable and hilarious, I was very curious. Captain Obvious fell into a fit of laughter at my family’s ridiculousness. They call them “smelly windys” which in turn, had me in a fit of laughter. It was a solid lunch break. I love being around that family, it’s so nice to see a young family do something so pure and raw together. Very relieving since I am so used to seeing all kids glued to electronics and ignoring everything and everybody around them. These guys are the best! Shout-out to the coolest cats on the trail! Next time I see you I’m gonna give Pippy some braid competition, the greasier my hair, the tighter my braid!

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The rest of the day was miraculous. We climbed up a mountain into and then over the clouds. The views were either nothing at all, or amazing. After the summit, we hiked along the ridge and then in and out of beautiful forest. I was in a zen-like state, floating on the trail. I couldn’t have been moving fast, I was so entranced with everything around me, I was so relaxed, I was so happy.

sketchy snowy sections towards the top

sketchy snowy sections towards the top

Don't go left

Don’t go left

What a view!!

What a view!!

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Fingers weren't too fond of the temperature

Fingers weren’t too fond of the temperature

I like to call this one: #lifeanddeath ?

I like to call this one: #lifeanddeath ?

It was a cold night, got down to about 30 degrees. I slept well though, I found that if I just devour my face in my sleeping bag I can sort of stay warm, breathing can be a challenge, but I’m willing to compromise it for warmth. Spoon left a mug of hot coffee at my tent vestibule in the morning, it was amazing. We didn’t start hiking that morning until 9:30 LOL.  As we left we passed another group having a slow start, a friend named Waterboy is in this group and he just yelled “Roll out late or not at all!” hah, it’s a pretty nonchalant life.

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The rest of the week was a lovely temperature, but then ended with really high temps. Towards the end I definitely felt dehydration effects. When we reached a KOA I downed a litre of coconut water trying to reverse the effects of also downing a tecate. I may never rehydrate again.

Dehydrated, dirty, fulfilled

Dehydrated, dirty, fulfilled

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Instead of taking a full day off this week, we are doing 3 short 10 mile days. We are in Aqua Dulce at a place called Hiker Heaven. A family opens up their home to hikers and host up to 50 a night. Most camp but they also have a guest house with a kitchen and couple rooms. All out of the kindness of their heart. Showers, laundry, Netflix, BBQ, bonfires, 5 porta pottys etc. Incredible. They are a mile from town so as I walking back with my groceries the Sheriff of Los Angeles PD stopped and asked if I needed a lift. My mind immediately skimmed about 17 Dateline and 20/20 episodes where this went very, very wrong. So of course I said I’d love a ride! (Sorry mom, I’ve learned nothing from your nightly tv obsession). His name is Fred and he said he’s really looking forward to hiking the PCT one day. In that mile stretch we stopped at his house to check on his horse. He apologized for the delay, but horses are important around these parts. He left me in his car with all his weapons, this mutual trust in strangers thing is going quite well. He dropped me off at the house and I went nuts and ate an abnormal amount of fresh vegetables. We hung out all night and was a great stop. Back to the trail in a couple hours!

Thanks Fred!

Thanks Fred!

Turns out hikers have quite the mixed bag of talents

Turns out hikers have quite the mixed bag of talents

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3 thoughts on “Rounding Out the Month With Bonus Miles

  1. Marti says:

    Way to go Julie! Congrats on over 450 miles! Jim and I have really enjoyed reading your blog and keeping up with your hike. As well as a fantastic hiker you are a talented story writer and your posts are filled with heart warming and witty stories. Wait till I tell Jim how they say fart in England! He loves that kind of stuff. I hope you have a wonderful week. We will head back to Idyllwild on Friday to our new cabin that finally closed!

    Marti

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