Just Keep Walking: Mount Laguna to Mountain Valley Retreat

Day 4: Mount Laguna to Mile 68.4

Miles: 26ish

Steps: 65,293

I left Mount Laguna around 0730. Day 4 was by far my favorite day thus far.

The views were spectacular all day. 

I would love to have a headstone here one day. Such a beautiful view.

I never thought I would be able to do a 26 mile day. I was actually planning on stopping around Mile 62; however, I was relying on a water source at mile 62, that was dry. So, I had to keep walking. 

By the time I got to Mile 68.2, it was around 6pm and honestly, I wasn’t all that exhausted. After filling up tons of water, plus more, I took a couple steps on the trail, thinking I would go another 2 miles to the next camp site. I quickly turned around, worried the next campsite would be taken, and I would be left walking to the next camp site in the dark… with sore and tired legs. 

So, I set up the good ol tent, enjoyed a cold dinner, sunset, and hit the sack. 

Lessons of the Day: 1. Read comments on Guthook’s Map yourself. Don’t rely on others telling you where the next water source is. 2. If it’s getting close to sunset and you’ve already put in a good amount of miles, don’t give up a good camp site. 

Day 5: Mile 68.4 to Mile 92.1

Miles: 22.8

Steps: 57,458

Day 5 sucked. Beautiful, initially, but easily turned into my least favorite day thus far. 

Finally met up with a hiker friend again. We hiked together all day. Sadly, hiking with someone else, didn’t really make it much more enjoyable. We were both pretty miserable in the heat, with water sources spreading further out. 

Tried the umbrella, no luck. I put the umbrella under my chest strap and secured it to my shoulder strap, but it put more pressure on my already aching shoulder. I carried it for most of the day and that definitely helped shade the sun from scorching my already sunburnt skin, but it didn’t make the day more enjoyable. No shade could be found on this part. Camped at mile 91.2. My body melted into the sleeping bag, my muscles grew more fatigued, as I tossed and turned throughout the night. “Tomorrow has to be better”, I thought to myself. Yes, that’s it… Tomorrow will be better and I will just keep walking. 

Lesson of the Day: Don’t take on a big uphill section, during the hottest part of the day in the desert. If you find yourself in this situation, drink a lot of water, take lots of breaks, and find shade wherever you can to stop.

Day 6: Mile 92.1 to Mile 101.2 Mountain Valley Retreat

Miles: 9ish

Steps: 31,808

Hit the 100 mile mark on day 6. It took exactly 5 days, from the day I began this journey, to get there! My body and feet struggled during the 9 mile journey. Knowing that I was taking a zero day at a yoga retreat, was the only thing that kept me going. 

At mile 101.2, we arrived at Barrel Springs. Although the owner of Mountain Valley Retreat, so gracefully offered to pick us up when all of us arrived, we were a bit antsy to get there and rest our tired feet, so… I decided to try to hitch hike for the first time. 

Hitchhiking is like getting rejected over and over again. As a car approached, hope arose deep inside of me, slowly to be shattered, as the car passed, without slowing down. All of a sudden, I had a bright idea! Write “PCT Hiker” on the back of the sitting pad, embedded in the back of the Gossamer Gear Mariposa pack! “A flower and smiley face will definitely get me a ride!” 

Wrong. More rejection. I finally approached a nice Boy Scout leader at the parking lot and asked him for a ride and he kindly took us 1.5 miles down the road, to the yoga retreat. 

Many have asked me, why hitchhike when you’re already walking? Why not just walk? I’m already walking 2,659 miles… I don’t want to walk more and risk more blisters or injuries to get into town. I’ll walk if necessary, but if I can hitch, great!

Mountain Valley Retreat was great and I highly recommend it to any thru-hikers! The owner, Chery, is a beautiful free spirit. She picked up our packages from the post office, which was great because I would have had to wait around a couple days in Warner Sorings for the post office to open. She took us into town to get what we needed. She makes amazing meals for her guests. She has a zero day package for thru-hikers, which of course I took her up on. 

 I soaked my feet in epsom salt most of the day, trying to dry out the blister/shrink them, which Chery provides for her hikers. I only have one blister and two black and blue toe nails this far… that’s not terrible.

Hammock life… no complaints!

Lessons of the Day: 1. Hitchhiking is not as easy as I thought it was. Researching new techniques, is a requirement! 2. Epsom salt baths are great for blisters and healing hikers’ feet.

Day 7: Zero Day at Mountain Valley Retreat

Chery and Shae at Mountain Valley Retreat, really took care of me on my zero day. Epsom Salt foot baths, hiker yoga, and an awesome, much needed massage! 

Chery is a wonderful cook! Had eggs, bacon and hash browns for breakfast and enchiladas, rice, corn and sweet potato fries for dinner. 

I drifted off to sleep on a comfortable bed, in a tipi, to the sound of Shae playing the flute. Sounds a bit surreal, but it happened! Hey, I never said I was roughin’ it, the entire trail! 

Thank you Mountain Valley Retreat for the wonderful Zero Day! I’m refreshed and ready to keep walking!

Favorite Items in my Pack so Far: 

Sleeping bag liner: I am so thankful I brought my sleeping bag liner. It’s great when it’s too hot for my sleeping bag, and great for the added warmth, which I have needed a few bitter cold nights. 

Purple Rain Skirt: I am so thankful one of my sponsors is Purple Rain Skirts. I probably would have never tried this skirt on my own, but I love it. I wear light weight leggings throughout the chilly morning hike and switch to lightweight boy shorts for the hot afternoon hike. All the lady parts get a dry layer half way through the day, just as my feet get a dry pair of socks. 

Voltaren: As my fellow hiker friends call it “magic gel”. Voltaren is a topical non-steroidal anti inflammatory. Instead of taking a pill, such as ibuprofen, which treats systemically, this treats one problem area and works within 10 minutes. This gel saved my shoulders and hips the first several days. I’ll never go hiking without it now. 

Note to future thru-hikers: As the saying goes, “hike your own hike”. Take others advice, but only if you’re comfortable with doing so. Sometimes, you have to figure things out on your own, and maybe it will be what others told you, but you’ll be glad you came to the conclusion on your own, instead of wondering what it would have been like. If others get offended because you didn’t take their advice, or say “I told you so”, shrug it off and hike your own hike. As far as your base weight goes, Gen, founder of YAMA Mountain Gear and mYAMAdventure (the sponsorship I am in), said it best to me, “try not to get too caught up in the weight loss game though. Figure out what work for you, and tweak your kit over time”. 

Hiking the PCT is hard enough. I encourage positivity and constructive advice, but keep the negativity. Help me get through this journey, don’t try to drag me down. 

What will happen on my journey with the upcoming fire closure, on the way to Idyllwild? Stay tuned fellow hikers! See you on the trail! 

19 thoughts on “Just Keep Walking: Mount Laguna to Mountain Valley Retreat

  1. Congratulations on making to the 100 mile mark. Most non-thru hikers don’t know what that means, but I do. The largest number of people who drop out on any section of the PCT do so in the first 100 miles. Basically, it weeds out a lot of hikers. If you can make it this far, you can make it the rest of the way depending on staying healthy (both physically and mentally) and having a large enough weather window for your speed. Based on the speed you have shown so far (not many have a 26 mile day under their belts this early), I think you only need to worry about staying healthy and that I’m also confident you can do.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No problem. If you ever have any questions or concerns you want to run past someone who already thru hiked the trail, let me know at aopathfinder@gmail.com.

        As for 20-30 days, you haven’t been on trail long enough to get your trail legs yet. Let them come and you will be amazed at what you can do.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Another great post! Loving following along. Glad your feet are holding up! I lost a total of 5 toenails on my little trek through Mt Laguna, so you are doing well! Keep on walking!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We don’t host. There are some free and cheap places to stay in Tehachapi. Do not expect to pick up your package in Mojave on a Saturday. It is easy to hitch on Willow Springs Road

        Liked by 1 person

      2. the public transit will pick you up at Hwy 58 and Cameron Rd, but you will come to Willow Springs Rd about 8 miles before that and it is very easy to get a hitch into Mojave/Tehachapi during the day there. If you know when you will be at Willow Springs I can arrange to bring you into town. Do you use Twitter? if so my Twitter handle is dsreed86

        Liked by 1 person

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