July 2nd, 2019
My Lake mm 206.4 to Benchmark mm 234.2
Distance in miles: 31
No one is moving early in the morning but me. My companions usually wake to the sounds I make packing but no one stirs. We had a hard day the day before and we are all very tired still. I just work quietly on my blog and listen to Relentless snore. I really don’t mind their sounds. We have circled the wagons again, so to speak, pitching our camo cuben fiber shelters in a circle. We did this the night before too and I find the odd combination funny. We have Salty’s ultralight tarp, my single tent, and Relentless’s double tent…all matching, what were the chances?
We head out, shortly turning a corner to see the Great Chinese Wall, a tall slab of rock like a fortress extending for miles…think Game of Thrones wall. It is very scenic and we get to walk right along it for a few hours. It’s the most scenic part of the section so far and I enjoy the walk. It sprinkles on us a bit but I don’t even care.
We leave the wall to descend into a series of valleys. For the rest of the day we follow wide, heavily trampled trails. It’s clear this network of trails are popular with equestrians. We meet lots of section hikers and even a large family with pack-horses.
The day wears on, my feet begin to hurt, and it gets very cloudy. I prepare for rain. We had planned to camp just shy of Benchmark, which is an area with a ranch that accepts hiker boxes…for a $25 holding fee. We only need 2 more days of food and I have enough leftover to do it but I also had food sent with Relentless’s box. I am going to have so much food to carry.
We get to the trailhead and are hoping someone is leaving that could give us a ride the 3 miles to the ranch. There are tons of cars but no one about, so we just start walking the road. A few trucks pass, all going the other way. Then it begins to rain. I put on all my gear. Then it begins to pour. So much for getting a ride. No one would pick us up all wet. I walk fast because I am so cold and my feet have gone numb so I can’t feel how much they hurt.
Just as we get to the turnoff to the ranch, a vehicle finally drives by, going our direction. Darn. Probably wouldn’t have picked us up anyways. There is a wonderful porch where the resupply boxes are stored and we promptly make full use of it, putting on layers, stuffing our faces with food, and trying to dry out a bit. I sort my new food, plugging it into my already full bag. A lady drives up, apparently the owner of the place. She is friendly but I can tell she’d rather we not stay too long. Salty boldly asks if we could cowboy camp on the porch and it’s a resounding NO, as I knew it would be. I have already packed up my stuff and am ready to go. But to ensure we get on our way, her son will give us a ride back to the trailhead.
I get that these people have to deal with a lot of hikers and have to draw the line somewhere. We have chosen to be out here, no matter what the weather, and should be prepared to deal with it. I am just so happy to get a ride the 3 miles back where there is a campground. The rain has subsided and I get my tent up quickly, practically diving into my sleeping bag. A lot of stuff is damp but I am oh so happy to be safe in my tent. I should sleep well to the pitter-patter outside.