Day 18: The Worst Five Miles of the PCT

Started: Water Faucet (205.7)

Ended: Whitewater Preserve (218.5)

Total: 12.8 miles.

Do you want to see euphoria? I’ve never been so excited to find water. I used to be excited about beer or ice cream. Now I find joy in water. Pure joy is camping at a water source.

After the long hike yesterday, we knew we were going to have to take it easy. The Mess Wind Farm is commonly called the worst five miles on the PCT. With daily temperatures around 110° and a strong wind, you don’t sweat. The heat is total, and it eats you up.

We hiked just three miles in loose sand where every step felt like two. We got to the I-10 where two local trail angels told us to stay there even though it was 9:30. We took their advise, and watched the tortured come in and flop down with us. It seems kind of ridiculous to be sitting here, but to travel on requires a liter of water per mile or two. The local hikers were waiting, therefore I waited.

About four o’clock we decided to make a go for it. It was no longer 110°, just 109°. Our ultimate goal was an oasis, the Whitewater Preserve, a hiker friendly place to camp. We didn’t have enough water to do that, so we would first hike to the Mesa Wind Farm office, five miles away. The workers have built a shelter for us, and leave water like you might leave out a can of tuna for a homeless kitty cat.

I pushed on for three miles, but the heat and the soft sand made for slow painful travel. I completed three miles, but I could not continue. I was completely out of gas.

The desert is beautiful, even as it tries to kill you.

Yesterday, we hiked 18 miles because we had to get to water. I spent all my reserve energy. There would be no second wind. You can’t just muscle through this. I had no choice. I needed to eat the next day’s food. I need to get out of there. That created a new problem, but it was a problem for another day.

So, I no longer have enough food to get to Big Bear…

We reached the Whitewater Preserve at 10:30, and I fell asleep within seconds of laying down.

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