It’s 4am and I can hear the rustling of stuff sacks and sleeping pads. Milkman is a PCT rooster.
I turn over and drink half a liter of electrolyte water. I pack up and then we’re on our way again. Do I need to say again how freaking hot it is already?
We hike and meet up with Rosie, Rachael, and Namaste (who I haven’t yet met). He is listening to IDM through the speaker on his phone and it sounds perfect for this morning.
Mountain Goat catches up to us, and our 10 person posse heads for the Bird Spring Pass water cache. The trail register near the previous cache informed us that it is stocked. We get there and find water, but in dwindling quantity. There is a bag of mint M&Ms. There is also very little shade.
Those who get there first are coaxing shade from a bolder. The idea of holing up here to hide from the sun for hours is not appealing. The only other option is to continue to hike and the trail makes steep incline from this point. We psyche each other up and decide to go for it. I put on music, open my trusty umbrella, and hike on.
At the top of the slope, I stop under a tree for shade and make instant pudding with crushed Oreos. This super-fuels me for the next mile. I then hide under some small trees with Namaste and Don’t Panic for most of the afternoon.
At 5:30pm, Namaste and I head towards Yellow Jacket Spring. When we get there, we find only a puddle. We take turns filtering the brackish water through bandanas and then pouring that water into our water filters. The process takes an hour. I am officially a puddle drinker.
I want to hike another 7 miles so that tomorrow’s hike to Lake Isabella is an easy one. The thought of getting to town speeds me. I do the 7 miles in two hours. I find Bumblebee, Milkman, Kopiko and friends setting up camp on a rocky outcropping. I eat potato chips, miso soup, and beef jerky, clean my filthy feet and fall, dead tired, into my sleeping bag.