Start: Horseshoe Meadow
Stop: Rock Creek, PCT mile 760
2000 ft. up, 2327 ft. down
A girl roles into the hostel dorm about 11pm and climbs into the creaking bunk above me. At 1am the other bottom bunk girl roles in. At 2am the girl above me climbs from her bunk, turns the bright light on and from the sounds of it, starts to go through her morning cleansing rituals. Leg shaving (I’m guessing), teeth brushing, throat gurgling, hair brushing, swishy hiking clothes donning, clunky boot stomping. After an hour of this, she leaves. And finally I can get some rest.
I meet Uncle Jay at the Alabama Hills Cafe for a yummy breakfast. He offers to give me a ride to the Horseshoe Meadows trailhead. It’s a long, winding drive so we try going 110mph in his fancy red car just to speed things up a bit.
I drag myself 3.5 miles, huffing and puffing my way to 11,120 feet at Cottonwood Pass. After a break at Chicken Spring Lake, I trudge in a daze through the baking sun and granite sand. Granite that’s been pounded to a fine crumble makes progress feel slow. I yield to the oncoming horse pack team and I’m engulfed in their cloud of granite dust.
Being here is hard. Physically hard. Mentally hard. I’ve practically launched myself from the couch into a 14 mile high Sierra day. I think ribbons of negative thoughts. I wonder why I’m here to hike through these mountains all alone. This is suppose to be fun after all. What I really want is that camaraderie and friendship that only comes from the sharing of challenging experiences. I meet a few PCT hikers and they are friendly but I am no one to them.
I worry about my foot a lot. But after a relaxing break underneath a foxtail pine I zip downhill like I’m a thru-hiker. Might as well test the foot for real. I set up camp near the noisy Rock Creek. After enjoying my cold-soaked rice and tortilla dinner I turn in early and watch the light slowly fade from the sky.