David from the Roadside: Runningbird stepped back on the trail at 0520 after a well-needed day of rest. The next couple of days may well be the most difficult for her so far with projected temps into the mid-nineties and an elevation gain of 7,136ft. To complicate issues, her tracker is showing failing batteries and there was a serious rock slide reported that could be difficult/dangerous to navigate.
The worst part of this is watching on the tracker with Google Earth, or on occasion hearing from her by cell (maybe with a hint of distress in her voice), and watching the temps and feeling helpless. I’m sitting in a campsite near Banning, CA being physically comfortable. But mentally? I know Runningbird is tough, trained, diligent. But from just the short walks I’ve taken out to greet her in the desert here, it’s gnarly! Go Runningbird! Go!
This afternoon I drove to scout out the next meeting spot. It’s under a low freeway overpass and train trestle. The wind was howling and the noise from the cars, trucks, and a passing train were thunderous – but it was cool there. Laying on the ground with her feet up against the concrete was a young lady who had just come down off Mt. San Jacinto. I asked for her trail name and she quietly just said she didn’t have one yet. That was all. She was sunburned and exhausted and grateful. Against the wall were several gallons of cool water and some snacks left by trail angels – and they really are trail angels. And I know from just the week that I’ve been out here and visiting with the other PCT hikers, that there are thousands (every one of them) who are grateful for the angels. Most of them they will never meet or get to express their thanks to.