Mile: 493.4 to 508 plus 7 miles road and 2 miles side trail.
up/down: 4500/3600 (est)
Our dear friend and trail mom Terri told me I would know when I had a real trail name. It would be given by a fellow hiker, in kindness and affection, and I would just know. Of course Terri was right and it happened today. We met Porcupine on the second day coming into Mt Laguna. He was taking a break by a stream and we joined him for a bit. He noticed our binoculars and asked about birding. Turns out he's a birder himself. He is young and enthusiastic, and we had many conversations about birds when we would run into him over the next few days. Then we lost him. It happens regularly on the trail, you'll be with someone or a group and something will change - a rest day or whatever and your company changes. 300 miles later and Susan and I are at the Acton KOA. Who should walk in but Porcupine. We've been together in a little bubble since.
I started the trail with the name "Drought Buster," given to me by my friend Rosie for my luck at having a lot of rain or snow fall on me when I backpack. After a week on this trail where it rained almost every day I texted Rosie and told her I was abandoning the trail name. She agreed. It hasn't rained since, other than the brief snow squall on Baden-Powell. I had told a few hikers that we live near mile 650 on the trail (Walker Pass) and some of them took to calling me 650 for a trail name. It was okay and I went with it for the past few weeks. But I knew in my heart it wasn't right. Then a couple days ago Porcupine suggested I should be Kingbird. He had some nice things to say to me and I accepted his suggestion today. We had a mini ceremony on the trail this afternoon. I am happy. A trail name is a very personal thing and I like mine. I am Kingbird.
Porcupine and Kingbird
Hiking? Oh yes, we did some hiking today. Probably our biggest effort day yet. We started at the ranger station road walking because of the closure. The first 2 miles were on a major road with cars screaming by at 65 to 80 mph. There was hardly any shoulder to walk on. After about a mile I said enough and stuck out my thumb. A young lady on her way to school picked us up and got us to the intersection with Elizabeth Lake Road away from the speedy morning commute. Still 9 miles to go on the road. We walked for a couple hours and with about 4 miles to go a local trail angel passed by ferrying people around the road walk. After she made her drop she stopped and got us. That was enough road for us and we were thankful for the assist. She dropped us at the side trail up Shake Canyon that took us back to the PCT at mile 493.4. We didn't walk all the road but a good chunk of it, and add in the side trail we feel like we made a reasonable effort at not skipping around the closure.
We walked up the lovely Shake Canyon and had lunch near the top. Beautiful oaks and Douglas Firs filled the canyon. Once back on our trail we had a fantastic ridge walk for miles among these same trees with the occasional Coulter Pine thrown in.
Of course we passed the 500 mile mark in the early afternoon- a significant milestone for us. With a pressing engagement this weekend at home we need to make it to a convenient pick up point by Friday. We've decided to push to mile 565 at Highway 58. With that in mind we pushed on to mile 508 and a nice horse camp on a 5000 foot elevation ridge overlooking the far west end of the Antelope Valley. We'll be down there tomorrow for another in a series of PCT tests - the 17 mile aqueduct walk. I'll talk more about that tomorrow. Right now it's WAY past hiker midnight and I'm exhausted.