PCT Day 43 : A New Backpack And The Last Days In The Desert

May 6 (~15:10 – ~19:10)
Walkers Pass – before Joshua Tree Spring (10.0 mi / Total: 662.1 mi)
Weather: Warm, but it slowly gets cold and windy with low hanging clouds as I ascend. It gets humid at night.

It’s Monday, and we can finally pick up our packages from the Ridgecrest post office that we’ve been waiting for. We return the rental car in the morning and head over to the post office where I pick up my new backpack and Prince receives his ice axe and bear can. Funnily enough, all items specifically for the Sierras we decided to skip for now. Prince decides to carry his Sierra gear to Kennedy Meadows, and see if he can leave it at the outfitters there, and I decide to hold on to the new pack, and try it out.

The Gossamer Gear Mariposa is a little heavier but also more comfortable than the MLD Prophet, and I decide to send my old pack to my friend Dana in LA, and hold onto this one for a while. I already miss my MLD and it’s tiny size and cool wasabi green colour – the Mariposa is a plain grey, and looks a lot bigger despite carrying the same amount of gear. No one will ever tell me again I’ve got a tiny pack with this thing. But it does fit well, and I can always get the MLD back for a later section. I feel sad to let it go.

After the post office it’s time to go. At last. After pretty much two days in town, we can finally go back to the trail. There’s a bus headed to Walkers Pass, and we get on it with tree hikers we know: Iron, Powerhouse and TwoStroke. We watch the same landscapes go by once again, the valley floor, the ascend into the dry mountains, and then we’re dropped off at the trailhead.

Suddenly we’re back, walking again, straight up that hill with our two groups marching behind one another, with Prince setting a high pace at the front. It’s strange to be back, but it feels right. This is where we belong. Immediately equally sizes switchbacks take us up and up and we’re on a roll. We go. We can do this.

The mountains are different from before: they’re growing bigger, steeper, the soil less sandy and more fertile. The rocks grow raggedy and jagged rather than soft and round like the boulders from the desert. Everything is similar but just a little different. I watch crags of rock in the distance, and I can just imagine these sights growing larger and larger in time. We’re definitely getting closer to the Sierras.

After a few miles we’ve all dispersed. I marvel at everything. I’m happy to be back. It always feels right to be back. After the switchbacks I just curve along with the mountains, some up and some down. The views keep changing and every mountain seems to have somewhat different features. It gets colder and windier and an old fashioned airplane is going around in circles on top of me. Everything seems so big here.

I feel that the days off did me well. Probably having the car and hardly doing any walking was actually a good thing: I don’t feel all that heaviness in my muscles anymore. I walk until darkness hints and I cowboy camp with Speedy and Prince, surrounded by mountains and fading light. I’m so happy to be back.

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