May 26, 2015
Islip Saddle (386.2) to Tentsite near Sulphur Springs Trail Camp (408.1)
17.9 PCT miles today, 4.9 Alternate miles today
423.8 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 5,055 ft, – 6,468 ft
Another day of hiking. We didn’t know to expect such a difficult day, and after the big climb yesterday, we figured most of our elevation gain was behind us. The first half of the day flew by and both Pickles and I marveled at the lack of pain in our feet. We were just walking along, sometimes chatting, mostly just in silence, enjoying another beautiful day on the PCT.
Then lunchtime rolled around and not only did we end up sitting around for over an hour, allowing our muscles and joints to get all stiff, but we also filtered enough water for 10 miles of hiking plus a night of camping. We left lunch with only 7 miles left to complete, but to be honest, they may have been the longest 7 miles of my hike so far. I’m not sure if all the elevation gain and loss had finally caught up to me, or if I was just simply carrying too much weight, but every step became harder than the last and it took all of Pickle’s master distraction skills and patient encouragement to get us to this campsite.
I think what I’m learning is that weight matters, a lot. Unfortunately, we meet a lot of other hikers out here who are injured or dealing with a lot of pain. And I just keep wondering how much better they’d be feeling if they dropped 10 pounds from their pack. I am beginning to learn that I have a very specific limit as to how much weight I am comfortable carrying. It seems like under 25 pounds is very manageable, but once I add more, and especially if I’m weighing in at over 30 pounds, I suffer through many more aches and pains.
Fortunately for me, I have the luxury of hiking with Pickles, and starting tomorrow I’ll let him carry a bit more of the weight if I have too much. This whole thing is such a learning experience, and maybe the lesson I just learned was to not carry 7 days of food while in the desert where water is sparse. Lesson learned…now I’ll just have to start eating some more of this food to lesson the weight.