Messenger Flats Campground to 451.5 (430.4 to 451.5)
Daily miles: 21.1
I’m beginning to worry about the snow in the Sierra, while at the same time becoming nostalgic for parts of the trail I’ve already gone through. It can be hard to appreciate the daily miles of trail, so I try to focus on that today.
Slow walking through the burn, such a huge burn that I’ve been in for over 24 hours now. After 5 miles I’m at a ranger station and there’s a cooler full of ice with soda and snickers, which are being sold for a buck and a buck fifty, so I shell out 5 dollars for sugary cold snacks. I sit for a long time, wanting to go slow, wanting to will the Sierra snow to melt, wanting to burn memories into my head.
A huge long downhill takes me to the town of Acton, which has a KOA. I need a small resupply, and the campground has a store, so I take the sidetrip. I meet Coppertone, the trail angel, again and he gives me a cookie and chocolate donut. The KOA is a madhouse because it’s Saturday evening during Memorial Day weekend and I nearly have an anxiety attack over all the people and activity. Music, grills, a random pool in this baking valley, dust, trash, enormous RVs, popcorn and snowcone machines, beer: the sum of this, our American dream. Does everyone know the PCT is right here? I try not to get judgemental and angry, but it can be hard. I wait in line for 15 minutes to buy my candy and trail mix and an ice cream bar and realize I’ve lost the patience civilization has cultivated in me. Doesn’t everyone understand I have miles to hike? Oh well, I eat my ice cream in line and daydream, so all is well.
In the evening I leave behind the chaos and see it fall away behind me and grow smaller and there’s no worry anymore. The hills grow and the grass grows (and goes golden) and the day grows long, as do the shadows. Yucca plants send their stalks into the air. I hike deep into the evening and cross under a highway tunnel and near Vazquez Rocks, which is a popular park with some iconic rock formations. I find a random spot to toss my sleeping pad, make my mac and cheese and watch the stars pop out. Night hikers pass through, and then no one comes anymore, which means the day is done. I can hear the highway from here and the white noise is nice. It’s a reminder that the world is still out there, enjoying it’s holiday weekend.