Walker Pass campground to mile 664, 13.5 miles (incl round trip to Joshua Tree spring for water)
Cost: camped, free
I was late to rise and most hikers were tucking into a delicious breakfast of French toast, fruit and coffee when I sleepily meandered over to the tent that Meadow Ed and the other Trail Angels had constructed. It was a delicious breakfast, thank you!
I finally left Walker Pass campground around 8:15am and 0.7 miles later I reached the road where the Walker Pass Memorial is and where you can find AT&T phone service! It was the first time in 3 days to get phone service (and apparently no more for 4 or 5 days) so I sat down with Shepherd and we both started updating our blog, checking emails, weather forecasts etc. Shepherd eventually left and I joked that I would probably camp on the memorial tonight…
While I was sitting at the memorial (on the Memorial Day public holiday), lots of people pulled over in their cars, RV’s and motorbikes to see the memorial plaque dedicated to Joseph Walker. The first people to stop were Richard and Sharde. We started talking and they had spent the weekend camping by the Kern River. Patrick had hiked the John Muir Trail (JMT) and asked if I was hungry. Funnily enough, I didn’t think I had “hiker hunger” yet but it definitely kicked in on this stage and I just couldn’t eat enough food to ever feel full. They pulled out ice boxes and shopping bags full of food and told me to take whatever I wanted… I hesitated and they started piling me with potato chips, beef jerky, seaweed, cheese, ham, pita bread and a juicy mango. I was going to have a feast for lunch, thank you so much for your generosity Patrick and Sharde!
More time went past as I sat there using the Internet and then a father and son from Lancashire pulled up on their Harley Davidson’s. We had a great chat, I hope you have fun back in Vegas!
A group of people on motorbikes stopped and asked what I was doing. I explained about the PCT and showed them where the trail crosses the road and they thought I was absolutely bonkers to be walking from Mexico to Canada. Next minute they were offering me beer (which I declined not wanting to get dehydrated), vanilla vodka (which I accepted a swig of), 2 bags of fudge and more chips. Thank you! An RV pulled over and offered me a beer (which I also politely declined) but did accept the Gatorade they offered me. And then a solo motorbiker stopped and gave me a packet of sports jelly beans… I guess I looked like a starved hiker!!
It was 2:15pm when I finally left my comfortable spot by the memorial. My 20-25 mile day was now going to become considerably less! I tried to walk fast but sometimes the PCT has other plans and the trail was a mix of deep sand or rocks that I kept falling over on and hurting my left bunion which is being squeezed into my Cascadia 9s and it aches and throbs constantly.
Shepherd had told me not to camp at the Joshua Spring (our next water source) because of a bear that liked to hang out there. I didn’t need to be told twice but I did do something a little foolish and I left my pack at the top of the trail while I went the 0.5 mile return trip to collect water – probably not the smartest idea to leave my pack if there was a bear around… Joshua Spring comes with a warning of high levels of Uranium and some quite scary warning signs… I filled up 2 litres, I wonder if I’ll start glowing?!
I walked another mile past the spring and was worried about where I would camp as the only listed campsites on the map were for 1 tent each and they were a further 3 and 6 miles up the trail but it was now after 7pm – you need to use a headlamp from 8:15pm ish. I saw what looked like a flat sandy spot near a Joshua tree about 15 metres off the path and headed down to have a look. I found Smokey camped there, shaded from some trees and he pointed out a better spot in front of his tent and let me camp for the night in his front yard. We had a wonderful chat and stunning views of the mountains.