OK, we went a little more than 9. It was our goal to only do 9, but we wound up doing 13.5 miles.
We woke shortly after "Amoeba", a section hiker we met last night. After breaking camp we meandered through dense chaparral, until we heard voices (not the crazy kind that suggested we hike in the first place, but the "real" kind). We stopped for breakfast and chatted with our first Thru-hiker hopefuls; "Shroomer", "Grammelissa", and Sandy (who may be now called "Yowsers")
After breakfast, we started our descent to Hauser creek, all while looking over at the sun beaten rocky climb up Morena Butte on the other side of the creek. On the final descent, "Shroomer" pointed out poison oak (which naturally filled Lauren (Apricots) with a little fear). Consequently, every plant that looks remotely like poison oak, results in a paranoid "is that poison oak?" question.
We took second breakfast at Hauser creek, which sparkled in the sun from the granitic sediment that made its shallow creek bed. after eating, Apricots and I donned our packs and started the ascent out of the valley. thirty minutes later, we reached a saddle near the high point for the day.
We made our gradual descent down to the Lake Morena campground where we intended to camp for the night. this campground will be the site of the ADZPCTKO (Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off) in a weeks time. We took advantage of some of the rare on trail showers (complete with hot water), after enjoying lunch.
Not long before our showers we met "Jackass" and "Molasses." Similar to me, they hiked close to 1200 miles previously on the PCT, but had to leave due to finances (and other factors). These two hikers plan to go all the way this time, recovering some ground they hit last time. I don't really understand what motivates us to hike the "full" trail, especially with the hot arid desert that has few water sources. One would think that after doing one portion once, we would be inclined to try and cover the portions we missed, but that does not seem to be the case. I am coming back to cover the parts I missed, but I want Apricots to see what I experienced, so I am sharing those portions with her (even if they are hot and difficult).
Molasses asked if we wanted to walk to the store with her. This would have been prime opportunity to go grab an ice cold beer, in the hot afternoon sun, and ice cream...but we passed on the offer because we were gluttons for punishment. We chose instead to hike out into the desert again, rather than shower again in the morning. With a few hours left in the day Apricots and I decided to tack on another four miles, finishing our day at a calm creek bed, filled with the sounds of croaking frogs, chirping birds, and the highway traffic.