Sulphur Springs Camp to Messenger Flats Camp (407.1 to 430.4)
Daily miles: 23.3
Last night was that loud kind of quiet, so I stuck in my earplugs. Climbed up into a burn and the burn lasted all day. The heat finally returned and it was so nice to hike and sweat and not feel numb all over. I was energized.
A group of us huddled at the fire station in the middle of nowhere for lunch and gathered water. All the campsites around here burned with everything else so it’s a long walk to the next place to lay my head for the night. Poodle Dog bush was rampant around these parts until the trail crews did a fine thing by killing it all and clearing it away.
As much as I hate to say it, sometimes the PCT is just about getting the daily miles in. I kept my head down, scanning the ground for the dreaded poodle dog and the miles fall off. The last 90 minutes featured a 1000+ elevation gain, and I nearly ran up the side of the mountain.
Sometimes the PCT throws you a whole steak, and sometimes it’s just a bone with a bite of meat on it, but it always gives you something to keep you going. As I crested the ridge and the campsite came into view I could see layer after layer of mountain. Clouds filled in a distant basin, and the hills in the foreground were half shadow/half light. The ridgelines were actually pale blue outlines, and the sun set on the side of my face, turning me warm. This was what the trail gave me today.
Messenger Flats campground was full of thru-hikers, but closed to the public on account of the burn, so we had the place to ourselves and it felt like our secret mountain home.