Sunday, August 24, 2014, Mile 2191: Rest Step Weathers a Storm

At a large campsite, mile 2191

Slept late after the 15 mile day. Pack is too heavy and is causing aches and pains. And my pace sucks. Figuring out the sweet spot, but not yet.

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This is the current emblem used by the Pacific Crest Trail Association. The emblems (blazes) are placed periodically along the trail, especially where there’s a trail junction. There are several variations on the theme.
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A white blaze is also used to mark the trail.
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Are they huckleberries, or M&Ms? You be the judge.

I met a thru named Tim while having a trail side snack, and his hiking buddy Kara (Badass) came along a bit later. We started chatting about trail names, and she said they are either given to you based on something that happened, or are based on a story. She asked me about my backstory, and I talked about how I learned to hike. As an example, I told her how Dad had taught me the rest step, and, as an aside, that this week was the one year anniversary of Dad’s repose. She said that Rest Step would be a great trail name, and bestowed it on me. Henceforth, I am Rest Step!

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Climbing toward the Cedar Creek Trail Junction, 2188
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Trail magic! This is the long distance hiking community’s name for random acts of kindness. This could be food, water, or just about anything. Here, Trail Toad has left water bottles for PCT hikers passing by…especially helpful in a dry patch.
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See that ridge in the distance, with Table Mountain? I was there a couple of days ago.
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Just before cresting the ridge, 2189

In the early afternoon, I passed the Grassy Knoll trail junction at mile 2189, and almost immediately crested a ridge. As I summited, I was hit in the face with black clouds and thunder. My destination was 1.8 miles down hill and I needed to be there to get water; I only had ½ L left, and the next water after that was well over 2 miles away. I made all kinds of speed, but got hit with the worst storm I’ve had on the trail in the last several years. Torrential rain, and hail ranging from ¼ to ½ inch. And it didn’t stop. I tried sheltering from the lightning, but I hit the proverbial lightning vs hypothermia dilemma, and had to continue down the trail. It wasn’t too far to the tentsite (and the necessary water). I couldn’t set up my tent without soaking everything, so I stood next to a large tree (in a heavily forested area, so much less lightning risk) and marched in place for probably another 20 minutes, to stay warm. When the hail had subsided, and the rain had started to slack, maybe 45 min later, I threw the tent up and got my cold soaked self inside. My NeoAir kept me off of the soaking wet tent floor, and I bundled up completely, while pouring calories into my system.

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A rather grainy, out of the tent shot, of the beginning of the storm (courtesy Firestarter).

After the storm subsided, I stuck my head out of the tent. Two women were across the trail and invited me over. The Warden (Terri) and Firestarter (Ginger) are from Oregon, and are section hiking as well. They were getting a fire going, and we stood around steaming our clothes dry. Fun evening with good people.

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Here I am at the campsite of The Warden and Firestarter, steaming my clothes dry. They were also caught in the storm, and we hung out together for the evening.
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My friends on the trail, The Warden, and Firestarter! We were all caught in the same storm, and we’re drying our gear. The three of us hiked together off and on for the rest of the trip.

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