The day is overcast. We walk beneath oaks as we hike along the branches of Agua Caliente Creek. We catch up with Hot Wing and Marcus (who we had camped with at Barrel Spring). We take a break while they break camp. They start hiking.
We finish our break and get going. The trail ascends. Again. I am thankful for the clouds and the cool temperatures.
We stop for a break and water at Lost Valley Spring. There are a lot of floaties in the water. Nothing a filter and Aqua Mira won’t fix. At least the water is cold.
We agree to camp in the boulders around mile 124. As I start into the boulder field, Natalie is way in front of me. Ashley is somewhere behind.
Natalie finally turns around after hiking about a mile past where we thought we were going to camp. We meet on the trail. Neither of us has seen a place to camp. Seems like the only flat ground is the trail itself. She says she met some brothers who were setting up camp. I had seen them, too. They were all wearing cotton – jeans, sweatshirts, hoodies, and such. They told Natalie that there was another camp just up the trail. They also told her that they’d been hiking the PCT for four years. And gave her advice about her gear.
She’s fuming. They lied. There is no camp. She has more backcountry experience than all those men and doesn’t need their advice. And she’s made it farther on the trail in 12 days than they have in four years.
We start hiking back down the trail to wherever Ashley might be. We all meet up. She is a little ticked. Another thru hiker told her that she thought she saw Natalie and I had set up camp about a half mile back. So, Ashley turned around and went looking for us. Another lie. We were actually a half mile ahead of her.
We walk north in the dusk looking for somewhere to sleep. We finally settle on a sandy but somewhat sloped spot just off the trail. We suggest a flat spot to Ashley if she wants to cowboy camp. She sits in the spot, “There are a lot of poky things and they’re all threatening me.”
We all sleep in the tent. Diagonally across it with our feet propped up on gear so we don’t slide down the hill.
Liars in the wilderness. Unsolicited advice in the wilderness. What a day.
PCT Day 15: 13.5 miles hiked. Camped near mile 124.5 in the boulder field.