R is for Roy, Rob and rivers (w/ waterfall and crossings)
Mileage: ~29 [Today: 8.4]
Kitchen Canyon river
Morale: 2->9 (Kady's goodbyes #1 and 2, new shoes, packing, meet Rob and hike half day to glorious camp!)
- Pen sucks; shall try to update tomorrow.
- Awesome campsite. Night fauna: Frogs, bats, ants (regular and GIANT), an inquisitive millipede. Ants seem to be leaving me alone. *crosses fingers*
- elevation ~3700 ft. 70 degrees at sunset and now near 10:00 pm and 56 degrees. Very comfortable, especially compared to lakeside.
The first "real" day of hiking -- out of ADZPCTKO and on my own -- was a nice morale boost. After the grueling hiking with Kady, it was largely level -- though hot.
I spent the morning saying goodbye to Kady -- after hurried packdown and the kickoff's farewell breakfast -- not once, but twice. Which was good, because the first goodbye was pretty draining, on the tail end of an argument about my last-minute preparation. I watched her go, almost ready to pack it in, keenly aware of how much this trip was hurting her. It was going to be a long, long slog.
... But then she turned around and came back. She surprised me walking to the bathroom and we fell into a hug; she told me how much she loved me and wished me a good trip and I burst into tears. The good kind.
I was another few hours finalizing my pack and trying to find my cell phone (couldn't -- I think it got sent home. There's always one thing that gets left behind by accident...) and took one last bathroom break just before noon.
Noticed a hiker in a stall with full pack on. Waited until he was done and chatted; yes, a fellow thru-hiker and yes, leaving camp. (Didn't go to ADZ.) So, just like that. Rob and I set off, and I had a companion right from the beginning.
I was gearing myself up for a herd of hikers and an immediate slog up a 3,000 foot climb. I got neither. Rob and I didn't pass another thru-hiker all day. (Presumably most got started 5 hours earlier from the campground -- breakfast started at 5:30.) And the walking was pleasant* and the climb gradual and minor. (Day 5 was the big elevation gain.)
Of course, what's an adventure without starting it off by getting lost? Rob and I took off on a trail from the campground to the lake -- and promptly had to step through swamp and some light bushwhacking after the trail ended at the water's edge. After 20 minutes of trial and error and quick orienteering, we found a jeep path that led south to the PCT and hiked on through largely wooded or chaparraled land.
It got pretty hot in the middle of the day. We stopped to cook lunch at a campground and refill water; I nursed a heel blister and introduced Rob to Second Skin.
A wandering former thru-hiker (Roy) had told me about a waterfall on Kitchen Creek that morning. So we aimed for that as a campsite. It was down a side trail but well worth it. Falling asleep to frogs and water running in a gentle, cool night with a crescent moon lined up with the foot of my sleeping bag seemed like the perfect way to usher in May ... and my new trip.
* Modulo the blisters and foot pain.