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PCT Day 14 My First Marathon Hike

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Marathon hike

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30th April 2015

Mileage 27.2

Ziggy and the Bears (210.9) to Bushcamp (238.1)

Marathon Hike

There was talk last night of some hikers making a move onto the trail at 2am. The early rise they rightly summised would make travel easier. It was expected to be the hottest day of the year today. Over 100F (38C). Hiking in that kind of heat is not possible for most people. I declined the offer of a 2am start, but did start early.

Oh, I also should mention I weighed myself last night, I’ve lost 2kg (5lb) in the first 2 weeks, looks like the extra 6-7kg I put on for the hike won’t last long!

It was just after 4am when I woke. There was a dim light in the backyard at ‘trail Angels’ Ziggy and the Bear. Just enough for me to see and pack up my gear.

As I cast my eye across the backyard I observed that many people had already left. I packed my gear, put on my headlamp and set off into the cool, dark desert alone.

I started hiking with the stars overhead and slowly began climbing through a gully that had hundreds of wind turbines. Initially I couldn’t see them through the darkness but I could hear their distant wurring as the blades spun in the wind.

By 5.30am the faint glow in the east began to outline the shapes of the wind farm. I continued yet further uphill till I reached the crest of the first climb of the day. It was here I had breakfast.

marathon hike mouse
strange night animals
marathon hike sunrise
the wind farm at dawn
marathon hike sunrise
marathon hike sunrise

The trail continued another couple of miles till it reached the Whitewater Creek. This rather large river by desert standards flowed with ice cold water. I met up with a couple of hikers I knew.

They told me they left at 3.30am, not 2am as discussed the previous night. We hung out, chatted, ate and refilled water bottle. It was around 9am and I had already covered around 10 miles. It was already brutally hot with no shade so we set off another 6 miles to the promise of more water and shade.

spot the hiker using an umbrella for shade

By midday I reached the next creek with flowing water. The heat was unbearable for some. Most hikers I saw looked in horrible shape. Most people crowded the first few large trees. I decided to continue another hour on the trail that follows the creek upstream.

I’m lucky enough to do very well in the heat. Actually I love the heat, that’s why I live in Darwin, one of the hottest cities in Australia. I found my shade, cooked up a large lunch, rolled out my sleeping mat and had a 2 hour siesta.

I already hiked about 18 miles and felt quite good so continued up the long hot valley. As I hiked I climbed higher and higher. It became cooler. By late afternoon I grabbed the last refill of water from the creek before I set off upwards away from the creek and any water source.

While hiking with headphones listening to music I heard this strange sound that I walked past. It sounded like a cross between a bumblebee and a buzzing cicada. I stopped and went back a step or two to search for the strange sound. I heard it again. A strange buzzing. A rattlesnake.

Brown and Tan in colour. It moved away from me as I approached. I must have walked within striking distance of it but it didn’t try and bite me. It didn’t sound anything like my expectation.

rattlesnake
rattlesnake food

By 7pm I was done. Exhausted. But there was nowhere flat to camp. I was at around 7000 feet, having set off this morning from around 300 feet. I already covered more than the distance of an Olympic marathon.

My first marathon hike. I was done. I couldn’t make another step. There was no flat ground in the hilly area to camp so I rolled my sleep mat on the trail. During the night 3 hikers stepped around me while night hiking. Guess my choice of camp could have been better. So ends my first marathon day, but how will I feel in the morning?

the only flat spot to camp

Next : Day 15 – Walking Like a Robot (261.7)

The Best information about the Pacific Crest Trail:
Complete Guide to the Pacific Crest Trail
Resupply Guide for the PCT
PCT Gear List

PCT Gear Review

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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9 thoughts on “PCT Day 14 My First Marathon Hike”

  1. You are crushing the miles. Well done Brad. I am terrible in the heat. I can just feel the difficulty level by your descriptions and photos.

    Reply
    • It’s more difficult than the start of the trail but the body is stronger now. I am lucky to do well in the heat. A lot of other hikers are struggling. You will be fine.

      Reply
  2. Love ur posts and photos. Let me know what I can bring you from REI when u get to Bridge of the Gods in August. Or a shower and meal in Portland? Smiles, Gretchen

    Reply
  3. 38C would be much more than this northerner could handle! Very cool pictures of the windmills in the night/morning. And glad that rattlesnake decided to leave you alone! :)

    Reply

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