PCT Day 20 : When Speedy Lost Prince

April 13 (~08:00 – ~18:50)
After Delamar Mountain Rd – along Mojave River (22.5 mi / Total: 303.8 mi)
Weather: Chilly in the morning, then it gets warm again.

I’m not in a hurry when I wake up and by the time I leave the tentsite, the sun has snuck through the chill in the air and Speedy and James have already gone. I make my way through the forest trail, a sparse route with a lot of burnt down trees.

After a few hours I’m back in the desert, surrounded by big rocks and lots of space. I take a few long breaks and savour the easy day. I don’t have to worry about catching up to anyone or steep snow sections – I can just walk.

After my second break Speedy appears from around the corner, and she is running towards me. She isn’t wearing her pack, and it makes no sense for her to be anywhere near here, but then she calls out: ‘Have you seen my phone?’ and she keeps on running, further back.

She left her phone at her last break spot, and didn’t realise it was gone till long after she’d gone. James is looking after her pack, and she is running back to try and find it. When she passes me a second time, she has her phone again. Phew! We’re not lucky with our phones out here.

Just before she skids off again, everything so much lighter and easier without the weight of a backpack that holds all your belongings, she turns around and says she has an idea for a trail name for James – Prince. He’s been wanting to get rid of the name Black Water for some time now, so he’s essentially the hiker formerly known as Black Water, and as he keeps on helping damsels in distress, Prince would suit him perfectly.

I like it. The reasoning behind the name is partly similar to my CareBear, but it’s clearly a much better version of it. When I catch up to the both of them, he’s accepted the new name. Black Water is now Prince!

Then the day begins to slow down. There’s nothing particularly mesmerising about the surroundings or the trail, and neither is it unpleasant, but the day just seems to drag. I feel like I’m not getting anywhere. I even start to watch an episode of Deep Space 9 while I walk, which sounds ridiculous but I’m just waiting for time to pass.

The idea was to do 22 or 23 miles today, which is a lot, and I’m not quite sure it’s necessary. It’s all based around our visit to the Apple store, to get my phone up and running again. Speedy told me they were thinking of doing two long days and then a shorter day, so that we could hitch to the Apple store in the afternoon. I would’ve thought three normal days and a hitch in the morning might be better, and allow more time in case things didn’t work out at the Apple store, but they’d already discussed when I wasn’t there, so for now I’m just go along with it.

It’s already afternoon when suddenly I hit a tourist spot. I pass Deep Creek Bridge and follow the Mojave River downstream, a huge canyon of rock overlooking the water, and the PCT here becomes a popular day hike. There are not too many people as it’s already late in the day, but I notice the difference instantly: I small shampoo and laundry detergent, and everything is a little more trashy and polluted, sadly.

Once I’m sidling above the river, I’m devoted to the high mileage day, as there are only a few camping spots along the way. I’m getting tired quickly, and my pace is at an all time low when I finally run into Speedy, who is alone – she lost James. She was supposed to meet him at the very first bridge, but didn’t see him there and continued walking. She figured she missed him somehow and she would see him at one of the following bridges or water points, but he’s not there. Nor is he at any of the few flat tenting spots, which is where he would usually be waiting at the end of the day. So it’s unlikely he’s ahead. But now that I’ve caught up to Speedy it’s a mystery as to how I could’ve missed him as well, if he was behind. I would’ve had to pass him if he was. Where is Prince?

Speedy and I keep on walking, and after we set up a late cowboy camp on a higher platform above the trail, Speedy spends the evening prophesising where he could be – Still waiting at the bridge? Far ahead? Dead? Or our favourite: He ran away from us after he finally received a better trail name. We keep a vigil eye out for him as the trail darkens and the moon illuminates the night, but he never shows…

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