Day 19: Mile 284.4 – 299.2, plus 2 miles until we got a ride to malt shop

Elevation gain: 817 ft

Elevation loss: 3,036 ft

Definitely one of the best burgers and milkshakes I’ve ever had, honestly! Sloopy’s in Manhattan Beach has my most fav coffee shake, and this one rivals it for sure (I may be a little biased at the moment, tho). So clearly, this was the highlight of the day, but let me give you a little recap of what happened prior to the feeding frenzy. We woke up a little before 7am after a below freezing night, AGAIN! Of the 18 nights we have slept on trail, I have worn 2 down jackets (as well as merino wool shirt, pants, socks, hat, and my favorite opossum gloves) 17 of those nights! I’m sure warm nights are in our future, but they’re hard to imagine at this moment. BUT…this is how I got my very own trail name today: Double Down. Yippee!! 2 hikers walked by as we were putting everything away this morn and I was explaining how I’ve been so cold and needed 2 down jackets every night. One of them said, “you should be called Double Down!”…perfect, love it!

Let me tell you how lovely the trail was today…NO SNOW to walk on, not even ONCE! Mostly smooth trail, but lots of little pebbles/fine sand which is normally great because I love my Dirty Girl gaiters that I wear over my shoes every day. They attach to the front of the shoe and Velcro onto the back to keep all this little stuff from getting into the shoes which can cause blisters.

But apparently, snow loosens the adhesive that was holding the Velcro onto the back of my shoe, so I lost both of those over the last couple days. So now the gaiters keep rising up and allowing lots of pebbles and sand into my shoes…not very comfortable. We will have to bring extra Velcro on the next leg. Also, u can see in that pic that I have a hole in my shoe now too…not sure how that happened, definitely a good time for my new pair next week!

We still had a cool, snowy backdrop the first part of the day

I know this isn’t snowy, I just liked the mossy little stream and thought you might too 😁

As we were walking this happened:

The tree literally took the hat off my head! It’s funny, every now and then there will be a sign saying that “so and so” has adopted this part of the trail, offering maintenance as needed. Well, there are DEFINITELY some parts that could use some adopting and today was one…sooo many downed trees!

And sooo many bushes completely taking over the trail. Of course none of the soft and fuzzy type bushes…only the most thorny, sharp and nasty ones are the ones growing together to form a wall of prickles as you try to squeeze through. One even grabbed at my down jacket this afternoon and pulled some of the down out! Bri did some surgery on it so we are good…phew!

We did have 3 crossings of Holcomb Creek (should be called a river) which ALL got us soaked to mid thigh! No way around it today, so walking in wet shoes for the 6th day in a row was just the way it was gonna be. At least it was a sandy bottom (no slippery rocks) and it wasn’t moving too swiftly so we felt safe

Holcomb creek seems to be the divide between the desert and the forest in this part of the trail. To the west, beautiful, huge pines and to the east…just desert. The contrast is crazy!

We did finally see some deer today…a family of 5, actually. We’ve been seeing tracks for days but today was the first day we came across them. Plus tons of these guys:

Finally, to the best part of the day…the Malt Shop! After about 14 miles of hiking it was 2:30pm and we really wanted these burgers and milkshakes that everyone has been raving about in Cedar Glen. The bummer is that it is about 3.5 miles from the PCT…is it worth it? Would you do it after 14 miles of hiking if you knew the 3.5 miles was all uphill road walking including ANOTHER total submersion river crossing, and not one car driving by in order to try and hitch?

Well you would if you were hiking on the PCT with us! Believe me, I was having serious doubts if this was worth it when my legs were burning from all the uphill and I was sweating more than I had all day…just for a burger?! We were 2 miles into the grind of a walk to this malt shop when the most amazing thing happened. After not seeing even ONE car pass us the whole time, we ran into 2 women (Ann and Julie) who were out for a walk and started talking to us about the trip. Ann said, “you still have so much uphill to go, I live right here, get in my car and I will drive you guys up”. This felt like a miracle. I knew Bri really wanted this meal but I had already decided this uphill walk wasn’t worth it, and of course I wasn’t going to crush his burger dream! Ann and Julie were great to chat with and I feel so grateful for their generosity, thanks gals!

So Bri and I both ordered coffee milkshakes (with whipped cream), fries, and let me tell you…the BIGGEST burger I have ever seen. With bacon, cheese, guacamole, an Ortega Chile…it was spectacular and probably thousands of calories that I didn’t even think twice about. Oh…and fist sized onion rings… Awesome

The funniest part of this is where we are eating this mouthwatering meal…on the ground, in the parking lot of the malt shop, right by the dumpsters. We seriously didn’t even care, but it’s funny that the PCT hikers as a whole consider themselves “hiker trash”, so only fitting that we are right by the dumpsters 😜 While we were waiting for our food, there was another couple waiting as well who was asking us questions about the hike. They own a super cute B&B just down the street from the malt shop that they have recently restored and want to have PCT hikers (or anyone who wants to visit this cute town) come stay and enjoy their hospitality. Andrea and James are their names, and they then offered to drive us back to the trailhead…OH HAPPY DAY, are you kidding me?! How could we be so lucky to have 2 totally separate strangers be so helpful and generous? Thanks so much guys, it was great meeting you too!

After they dropped us as close to the trailhead as possible, we saw there were trash cans…oh man, this is exciting to us too! Although we don’t accumulate a lot of trash by any means, to be able to throw out stuff that’s been marinating in our hot backpacks during the last 6 days just feels so good! We hiked another mile or so to a little campsite surrounded by brush and tucked away from the trail so hopefully it will be a quiet and warmer night tonight!

EXCEPT…I just had Bri kill this spider that was crawling under my pillow when I moved positions. How the heck did he get in?? Ugh…creeps me out to think he could’ve been crawling all over my head when I was sleeping if I hadn’t just moved my pillow!

As I’m writing we can see bats flying around the tent (fine with me…eat all the gnats you can fit in your belly!), and can hear the nearby water fall as well as ducks flying by…interesting combo! Thanks for reading guys, Double Down 😁