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24th May 2015

Mileage 27.1 (43.6km)

Joshua Tree Camp (624.3) to Walker Pass (651.4)

I had some inside information that there was trail magic at Walker Pass. It was over 27 miles away and I wasn’t sure I could make it that far with my sore ankle. But decided to try. I also had another problem, I probably wouldn’t have enough water to stay on trail another night. This section of the trail is the most brutal for its lack of water. It also promised to be a hot day.

I was hiking by 5.30am. That’s the earliest I’ve been on trail so far. I hiked for 2 hours before stopping to make coffee and some hot oats. This also lightened my still substantial water weight from my pack. The trail still consisted of soft sand similar in consistency to beach sand. It was hard work. Then there was a climb that seemed to last for hours. Both my energy and water reserves were depleted very quickly.

At midday I had 15 miles to make it to Walker Pass which had the next water. I didn’t think it possible but just kept walking. A rattlesnake met me on the trail and was very polite in its method of warning me. It set its rattle in motion when I was about 4 paces away from it. The rattlesnake then courteously moves off the trail, all the while rattling to make me aware of its presence. They have been referred to as the ‘Gentleman Snake’. They warn you to move away prior to striking!

I continued making forward progress for the afternoon but realised I was getting low on both energy and water. With 4 miles to go I ran out of water. This coincided with lack of energy and sore feet and ankles. I stopped every mile to rest. It was hard work.

My first sight of Walker Pass was of a shelter draped with PCT flags. 3 trail Angels were there, including the well known ‘Meadow Ed’. He was one of the first trail angels. It was his 70th birthday, he chose to spend it with hikers. We were treated to a several course meal. Not many people reading this can appreciate just how great it is to feel full after a meal. When on trail I just can’t carry enough food. After several Dr Peppers, some beers, salad, 2 plates of pasta, bread, potato chips and 2 slices of birthday cake I went to bed full. Despite my monetary donation and gracious thank you, I really truely am touched by how many people give their time and energy to provide help for tired, hungry, smelly, dirty hikers. Thank you.

By the way, I am now heading into remote sections of the trail with no phone service. So I’ll will be unable to post or look at messages for a while. So be prepared for a lot of updates in about 10 days.



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13 Responses

  1. ADL

    Great shots of the rattlers. In the PCT Class video, 2012 I think, is a video clip of two rattlers intertwined (mating?) in an almost vertical position. ADL

  2. wooo193

    Glad to hear you’re back at it! 27 miles is a long way. Good luck out there and enjoy the mountains. Also, I beat crunchmaster to Walker Pass. Haha

  3. Sally

    So glad to see and hear you are doing well. I guess it can be like a bad day at work. Some days suck, but the lows pass. Yippee! The highs look pretty amazing on the trail. Kindest wishes to you Brad.

    • BikeHikeSafari

      Thanks Sally. A little hope of trail magic does wonders for moral. Something you will get to know very well when you hike the PCT next year.

  4. Mike

    Hey Brad, been following you since day 1, and you are an inspiring chap. Your pictures are wonderful, and I can’t wait each day for the next installment. You are really doing great, mate. Keep on keeping on, and I look forward to your updates when you get back into wifi range.
    Some questions:
    1 – why no 10 am pic every day? That’s one of my favorite things. You MUST keep doing that, dude!
    2 – did you hear yet about the hikers behind you that got married?
    3 – about how many days out of the 38 have you had trail magic, other than the days you were in a town?
    God bless you, mate! Hope the ankle improves!
    Mike M, Riverside, CA

    • BikeHikeSafari

      Hey Mike, thanks for the kind words. I found a ridge top area with cell reception so will quickly answer your questions. Firstly, I am taking photos everyday at 10am but seem to have either not been labelling them or not uploading them. I will remedy that when I have my next day off. Secondly I did hear a rumour of a trail wedding, but thought it only a rumour. Finally, I would need to consult my daily diary and re-read my blog posts but I think I have had trail magic every weekend that I have been on the trail, maybe 6-8 times. It appears I have been receiving it more often than lost. Several hikers have mentioned, “just follow Shepherd and if there is any trail magic it will find him”. Oh and the ankle is getting better, thanks.

  5. Karen

    So glad you seem to be in much better spirits. I just love the foggy trail pictures. If you are going to be off the radar for a few days, I hope you post everything you see and experience when you get back on. I really am living this hike thru you! Thank you so much for your regular daily posts.

  6. leggypeggy

    So glad you got to the trail magic and a good feed as well. Safe travels (look after that ankle) and catch you in June.


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