PCT Day 29
Miles: 314.6 - 341.9
Photos: PCT x McDonalds Sign + Certified Hiker Trash
What a crazy day! I woke up intending to just do a decent amount of hiking and then camping a few miles before the famous Cajon Pass which has a McDonald’s right off-trail. Once I got the first water source of the day I realized that I could challenge myself to get to the McDonald’s today and have it for dinner tonight. Since I had one of the latest starts I’ve had while on the trail (7:45 AM) and compounded with the fact that the McDonald’s closes at 8:00 PM, it meant that I would need to hike 27.3 miles in less than 12 hours. My feet felt up to it, I was determined, so I went for it!
It was easily one of the hardest days on trail. Since I had a late start and took two significant breaks (2 hours at Silverwood Lake, and another hour or so at Cleghorn Picnic Area up the trail), it meant that I had to keep an extremely fast pace all day. I don’t usually keep track of my pace, but today felt special so I recorded a few averages. I was going nearly 3.75 miles/hour during some sections of the trail. I thank the Madeon GFF Coachella set and downhill/flat terrain for that.
The break at Silverwood Lake was spectacular. It was a super low-key area right next to the beach with about 6 gazebos; each with picnic benches underneath. When I arrived, 2 of them were occupied with napping hikers. It was so relaxing at the Lake that I lost track of time. Two of my friends who were there already decided to stay until it was cooler and then just hike a few extra miles. I was thinking of doing the same, but the McDonald’s was just too tempting so I kept going.
By the time I had left Cleghorn, it was 3:30 PM and I still had 13 miles left to go. That meant I had to speed walk for 4 hours straight only taking one small break after a big climb. It was extremely difficult for me. I just kept the music rolling on climbs, and had nice podcasts on during the descents. I’m also very thankful I had my sun umbrella to block the heat because otherwise, I think it would’ve been impossible.
I eventually made it to Cajon Pass and the precious McDonalds with some time to spare. I teared up a little bit once I got to the famous PCT x McDonald’s sign. I think it was because I was so surprised that I made it in time, but also because it made me realize that I am out here actually crushing high miles on the PCT. I had to quickly get past my little moment since it knew it was gonna close soon and promptly walked a few more minutes to get my order in before they closed. For those curious, I ordered 1 Pounder with Cheese, 1 Big Mac, 6 McDoubles, 6 McChickens, 1 Large Fry, and 1 Chocolate Sundae. The extra items were for snacking and packing out tomorrow (that is if I can walk properly in the morning). Since the entire interior was closed for dining, I sat outside eating my food like the hiker trash that I am. Victory!
I decided to treat myself to a hotel room since I just hiked my biggest day ever, and my legs felt like they needed to be iced and taken care of properly. When I got there, I saw a hot tub with another hiker already in it. It was a guy that I’ve seen on trail a few times since last week but had never actually met. I put my stuff away in the room and went to relax in the tub to make a new friend. After a few minutes, some more hikers that I met last week showed up. More time passed, and another hiker I met today joined in. It felt like the day had gone full circle. All of us together, in a hot tub, after hiking an ungodly amount of miles just for some fast food. It was a fitting end for one of my favorite days on trail.