Pacific Crest Trail (2019) 64: Windchill x 100

Friday, May 17, 2019 – 15.40 miles

The wind was brutal this morning and I had to keep bracing myself with my poles. Clouds in the west were spilling over the mountains into a blue eastern sky.

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With the windchill the air was like ice, forcing me to put on my gloves. It turns out that gloves are less annoying to wear with hiking poles when both of your hiking pole straps are broken.

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Despite the annoying walking conditions, I did glean some joy from the weather because of the gorgeous advection frost.

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The trail descended below the clouds to the junction with Joshua Tree Spring. I had planned not to collect water there because the spring contains uranium, though a comment in the water report states: ‘Spoke to Mr. Larson of BLM Bakersfield. According to him most water sources in the Sierras contain uranium in different levels, but most springs are not tested. This one is tested and the uranium level is above the drinking water limit (designed for a lifelong intake in a typical household). Everybody has to judge for himself, but Mr. Larson would personally drink it if treated for the normal bugs while on the PCT. – Jeorg 9/8/13’. eTrails offers a feistier note: ‘The BLM states that the water exceeds the federal standards for uranium, explaining why veteran PCT hikers glow in the dark’.

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I kept walking and the weather gradually improved, the wind dying away and the clouds thinning into sunlight. The temperature remained cold though.

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The Spanish Needle Creek tributaries contained plenty of water. I had been planning to camp at Lamont-Spanish Needle Saddle because its location was convenient, but after pitching my tent I spotted a suspicious patch of potential cathole three metres away. Perfectly willing to take down my tent and re-pitch elsewhere, I went to scope out the other campsites, but they were littered with food scraps and embedded pieces of toilet paper. Whyyyyy. I decided to stick with my original spot.

As I was heading back towards my tent, I encountered Bake and gave him a cheerful hello, it’s nice to see you. The man’s enthusiasm was less than mine and after closer examination I realized that OH, I’VE NEVER MET THIS PERSON BEFORE. Though notoriously bad with faces and distinguishing men with beards, I firmly maintain that he and Bake looked almost identical and are fourth cousins. His hiking partner arrived and they decided to keep hiking. I might have kept hiking too if not for being tired and unsure about camping spots ahead.

I mentioned to a hiker the other day about being sent for secondary questioning at the airport, and some documentary evidence with which I might prove my innocuous intentions in the future (printed permits, journals, bank statements from previous hikes). He suggested pictures. I blame the fact that I never take selfies for photos not even occurring to me. I took one today as a preemptive action, but it’s just a useless tree photo… I need to remember to take photos of myself with signs.

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