Day 78: mile 1305.4 – mile 1328

Elevation gain: 3,323 ft

Elevation loss: 4,119 ft

We had TWO amazing things happen today…we had some OVER THE TOP trail magic and we hit the HALF WAY marker!!! We only had 6.5 miles this morning in order to get to our fabulous trail angels, so we set the alarm for 6am because we were incredibly anxious to get there! Mantis/Pants made it to camp last night around 8:30pm and were still sleeping when we left, but they were excited for the trail magic as well so we knew they would meet us there. We had a 1,000 ft climb this morning which was nice only because it meant we had cell service at the top in order for Link to download his blog pix. We had some great ridge walking and noticed more and more volcanic rock formations as we get closer to Lassen National Park.

Just as we could see our fantastic trail angels a hundred yards ahead, we first noticed that the Thing Family had actually left us trail magic as well! Two hanging bags, one for Mantis/Pants and one for us…oh my gosh, the sweetest! Inside our bag was a bottle of Bourbon and 2 Payday bars…so thoughtful! We miss them and hope we will see them again soon up the trail.

So it was 10am when we walked up to the most amazing trail angel spread we have seen since Janel met us right after San Jacinto. You can tell that P and Miles have done this A LOT before because they weren’t messing around. The spread was phenomenal with Link’s favorite beers, my root beers, sandwich stuff, snacks, fruit, sweets, homemade zucchini and banana bread…the list goes on and on! I have to say my favorite thing was the sign…they had written all the hikers names who we had thought might walk by last night or this morning on the board and it was just so thoughtful and heart warming. ♥️ Sitting in a chair with a backrest was heaven, having great conversation with these guys was so entertaining, eating to our heart’s content was amazing, and before we knew it, we had been there for 2.5 hours! P had even wrapped up a present for us using PCT map paper (so clever) with 2 apples and 2 HUGE bags of peanut MnMs…YUM! To think that they went to all this trouble just for us makes me speechless, thank you from the bottom of our hearts (and stomachs!).

My first plate…whoa!

When we finally started hiking again at 12:30, Link said he actually felt full for the first time since visiting his parents almost 2 wks ago…mission accomplished, P & Miles!! 😁 An even better thing is that Link and I didn’t have to eat ONE thing from our food bag all day today because of the plentiful trail magic. Since we weren’t able to supplement our resupply in Belden, this was HUGE because our next town won’t be for 3 days 😬 We were also sent off with some celebratory beverages and sandwiches to have at the halfway marker which was only 11 miles away! Unfortunately the 11 miles weren’t all “rainbows and butterflies”…they never are when you’re really excited to get somewhere on the PCT. Six of the 11 miles were with a 2,000 foot climb in the heat of the day, and mostly exposed. But the four of us just trudged ahead, so excited and giddy for this huge milestone that was so close now.

When we were almost to the top of the climb, there was a deer in the middle of the trail who must’ve REALLY liked the taste of this particular bush. She didn’t seem worried about us at all and super reluctant to leave her lunch (I completely sympathize with this feeling 😜).

THEN….FINALLY….at 5:15 we knew we only had .1 to go, so Mantis started playing Bon Jovi’s-Living on a Prayer to get us pumped up. The lyrics are too perfect, “whoaaa, we’re halfway there, whoa-o, living on a “trail”, take my hand and we’ll make it I swear…”. I literally had no idea this milestone would mean this much to me or make me feel this way. I had total goose bumps as we walked up and it was such a special moment, especially to be able to share it with Mantis & Pants. It was perfect! We each took out our celebratory beverages, had a toast to each other, and just sat there for over an hour reminiscing over our last few months out here.

I loved Link’s trail register comment!

As much as we all wanted to just camp right there, we needed water. The last water source was our trail angel, 11 miles and many hours prior. So that meant we had 5 more miles to reach Soldier Creek and the tent sites. We were definitely filled with adrenaline and buzzing with excitement after our very jam packed day, but it was 6:45pm so we needed to step on it! The 4 of us chatted on and on about our next plans for the trail, possible town stops, a million random things…and before we knew it, we were at the campsite! It was 8:10pm…definitely later than we usually like to get to camp, but it was worth it. Plus we got to wash up with water tonight for the 2nd day in a row since we are camped by water. Minimal mosquitoes, and being able to use our towel in the stream makes us feel so much cleaner than what a wet wipe can do!

What a great day filled with surprises, amazing trail magic, and a fantastic milestone. Reflecting back on the first half of this adventure I would say I didn’t think it would be this hard, but I also didn’t think I would enjoy it this much. Not a single day goes by where I say, “man, that was easy today”, but there’s also not a day that goes by where I don’t see at least one thing (or 20) that amazes me. I’m excited to see what the second half has in store to amaze us with! We said goodnight/goodbye to Mantis/Pants since they are going into Chester tomorrow and we really don’t know if we will see them again. I sure hope so because we started to feel like a little “tramily” and it makes me sad to think that might be over ☹️ We definitely plan to sleep in tomorrow which will be lovely! Thanks for sharing our journey with us! Double Down