Distance hiked today: 20.8 miles / 33.5 km.
Today is McDonald's day. Everything revolves around it. It's an iconic PCT stop - the McDonald's on trail.
We were about 15 miles away, and I headed there for lunch. My body is sore from big mile days and my feet were mush by the afternoon, taking multiple breaks in the last few miles. On the final descent towards the highway the trail follows a super cool ridge, perched on the edge of cliffs with lots of wildflowers. I try to enjoy the views and the beauty of the trail even when I'm hurting miserably, forcing myself to take pictures. This ridge did distract from the sore feet, and I snapped photos while rushing to get to the McDonalds oasis. There's even a trail sign directing to McDonald's, it's that iconic.
Tragically, the McDonald's dine-in was closed for renovations. But we could still order from the app for curbside pickup, and hikers gathered on the lawn eating lunch and waiting out the afternoon heat. I ordered 2 large sugar-free iced coffees (the large sizes in the US are ridiculously large), and 40 chicken nuggets. Not totally keto but pretty close - McDonald's doesn't do lettuce wrapped burgers. But also, I love chicken nuggets.
And so my trail name was born: Nugget.
We laid in the grass for a few hours before hiking another 5.8 miles to a camp spot by a water cache. I packed out 11 chicken nuggets in a ziplock bag. We hiked through a drainage tunnel under the highway and then back up into the hills.
You're not supposed to rely on water caches, but there's no water for the next 25 miles which is a huge uphill water carry. I brought slightly more water than I would need if the cache was full, but not really enough if it was empty. The comments on the app from other hikers sounded like there was lots of water, regularly filled by trail angels during this busy time in the season.
Thankfully the cache was full. We cowboy camped in a row in a dry sandy wash. I'm exhausted in every way, quickly falling asleep.
Total trail mileage: 347.2 miles / 558.6 km