After the cabin at the sulphurous spring, it was all downhill to a highway crossing, where there was a water cache at a picnic table in the shade. About four of us arrived at roughly the same time and hung out there before crossing the highway to take on the answering giant hill. My sore throat hadn't going away, and now it was joint buy a headache and a nose that alternated between running and stuffed.
For the past few days, I'd been leapfrogging another hiker named Avatar. Despite being under the weather, I'd still been holding my normal paste. So had she, apparently. Avatar was the first female to join the ranks of those I saw for more than a day at a time.
Since I'd be arriving at Kennedy Meadows within a week, I decided to finally look at my tracking number and see if my package had arrived. It hadn't. As far as I could tell, it hadn't even left Texas. It's the last status update was more than two weeks ago, and only said "In Transit." The last place it was definitely seen was in Dallas on May 26. It was supposed to arrive on May 30. It was now June 13, and needed to arrive no later than June 16. Well, June 17 would've been fine if USPS operated on Sundays.
While I had a signal, I both emailed and called USPS. They told me they'd look for it, and if found, they'd expedite it. Otherwise, if it arrived late, or not at all, I was S.O.L. and they'd do nothing about it.
There was well over $500 worth of gear in that box. Even if it were found, I would still have to spend over $200 to get the supplies needed to continue from Kennedy Meadows. From the sound of things, simply getting the box back after the hike sounded like a best-case scenario. The best I could hope for was to lose $200, for which I wouldn't be reimbursed. Nor would I get back the $40 I spent on shipping.
More than half the times I've tried to receive mail while on a trip like this, it's either arrived too late or not at all. It doesn't matter whether I sent it, others sent it, nor what carrier is used. It never seems to work. I don't know whether shipping packages is really that difficult or if people in the package shipping industry are really that incompetent.
At least my spirits were lifted when I crossed the highway and saw a box full of goodies. Aside from water caches and spontaneous encounters, this was the first Trail Magic I'd seen the whole time. Water caches are obviously more important, but they don't get you as excited as Pop Tarts and Peanut M&Ms.
Halfway up the long hill, I started to feel like crap. I'm sure it was mostly because of whatever bug I had, but I also blamed eating too many Peanut M&Ms at once. Once I got over the hill and into some more shade, I started to feel a little better.
If there's anything I don't like about hiking, to an irrational degree, it's filtering water. It's important, but way too time-consuming. Now that there's more naturally occurring water, the caches have disappeared, and that means you have to filter everything. In addition, this section of trail is where hikers have most frequently picked up stomach bugs, so it's recommended to filter everything, even spigots and springs. Since I was already sick, though clearly not from bad water, I decided not to take any chances, much as I loathed it.
Every ridge the trail climbed, I'd be convinced that the desert would end just on the other side. That never happened, but as a gradual trend, each valley and subsequent ridge had a few more trees than before. I suppose people weren't kidding when they said the first 700 miles of the PCT are desert, though at times, you're in and out of the desert.
In the last few miles to Kennedy Meadows, the trail passed through a flat Valley filled with pine trees. The trail had gradual inclines and declines and was kept almost entirely in the shade. The kind of hiking most people are thinking of when they decide to do the PCT.
Upon arriving at Kennedy Meadows, I had a lot of things to do, and since my package still hadn't arrived, a lot of things to get. I managed to get a few of them from hiker boxes and had to purchase others. In the end, I spent over $100 on replacements for things I already own, but simply hadn't received. It could have been a lot more. And it still wasn't as good as the supplies I would've had.
Damn you, post office...