At Pumice Flat Trailhead (Alternate Starting Location)
I didn’t set my alarm this morning, and I slept until 8:30, getting up just in time for an Actual Breakfast down at the café. I also did Actual Laundry, and took an Actual Shower. Happy dance!
Ben, Kylie, and Sam were down at the store. Ben’s resupply was there, and so they were going over his box. I hung out with them until my laundry was done, and then I went into the store to talk with the wonderful information guy.
I told him of my concern for the 20 mile stretch, and how I needed extra water, medically speaking. And that I felt the need to start before dawn, but that I couldn’t possibly get a hitch that early.
Echoing Steve’s advice from the night before, he suggested that I get a hitch later today, down to the Pumice Flat Trailhead. This is a cutoff for the PCT, losing maybe three miles, and a lot of elevation gain/loss. The thought was that I could buy a gallon of water, fill my own supplies to the brim, get the hitch, camp at the Pumice Flats Trailhead, and in the morning I could camel up and leave with all the water I needed. Slosh.
This plan made the most sense of any I had heard so far, so I thanked him profusely, and headed off to the campsite to pack up my gear and sort my resupply.
I almost always pack extra food into my resupply boxes. And that’s totally fine with me, because I can share a few extras with the 20-something hikers who have almost no money. I dumped several things into the bear box, which had a dedicated shelf for a hiker box. A hiker box is a specific place for your extras. If you’re lucky, you’ll get dessert or M&Ms. If you’re not so lucky, the only things there will be instant oatmeal and bags of Mysterious White Powder.
Once everything was put together, I shared hugs with the resident hiker trash, and then headed down for an early dinner at the café. I had a fun moment in the parking lot, where I saw a VW Westy in the exact same colors and setup that we had in our van, back in the day. I had a great chat with the owners of Franz the Van. Very cool!
Dinner was fairly quick, and then I got my gallon of water at the store. Next stop, the road. I needed a 2.75 mile hitch down Highway 62, to the trailhead. I stood by the road, started to get my sign out, when a guy pulled over and offered a ride. Fifteen seconds flat! He was a hiker, up in the area for the weekend. After a little figuring, and one wrong turn, we got to the Lodgepole picnic area, where the trailhead was located. I thanked him profusely, and then went to find a decent tentsite.
It took a bit to find something flat enough, as this wasn’t technically a camping area. My plan was to hit the rack ASAP, for a 4:30 alarm. Party on.