Day 3 was by far the most beautiful of the trail. I would have enjoyed it more if all I was carrying was a day pack instead of the monstrosity I had on my back. By the end of the day, I was almost having neck spasms. But I’m not a quitter or a complainer... much.
I was the first to rise this day. We had both slept better, mostly because we were so tired and achy, but that’s beside the point. Milkshake (my adventure buddy’s name today) was having issues getting her shoes on... I won’t elaborate, but 20 minutes later she was out of the tent and we took it down for the last time and I heaved it onto my back for the last day.
|I'm smiling... on the outside|
Milkshake got some more nasty blisters on her feet. I gave her all the blister band-aids I had in my first aid kit. She was a trouper. She didn’t complain much about them. I know they hurt her. (speaking from experience here, I know her pain) She said when she got home she would immediately throw these shoes away, never to be worn again... ever!
|she was like, check out these crazy ferns, take my picture!|
I didn’t eat much for breakfast. I was over the trail food. My appetite was almost non-existent. Which is not a good thing when you’re exerting/burning more calories than you’re taking in. But I knew it was the last day and that I was going to eat a ginormous cheeseburger and extra ginormous soda and a milkshake when we got back into town. So trust me, it evened out in the end.
The first part of the trail heading out of Big Basin Headquarters was OH MY GOD YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME!!! Uphill. All morning, both of us were saying, “we would have not been able to do this yesterday. I would have died.” It was pretty much uphill the first hour. Made it to the top of a mountain or something and saw the warning sign for this particular portion of the trail. Like you couldn’t have posted that freaking thing at the bottom???? Seriously, park ranger people!!
So the part from the top of the mountain to Berry Creek Falls was the most spectacular. This part of the trail I would love to do again, anytime, with just my day pack. It was breathtaking. Added bonus, it was now all downhill... almost to the very end. Milkshake was mesmerized by it all. I think she forgot about her blistered feet and her aching legs. I almost forgot about my aching back. But I was too consumed about time, now that our last day was between 12 and 13 miles, and whether or not our ride would be sitting at the beach for hours on end waiting for us. (I didn’t need to worry at all because we were at the beach for all of 5 minutes before Milkshakes husband pulled into the parking lot)
We sat down on a bench with a view of Berry Creek Falls and had a snack and up walked Little IT Guy. He said he was right behind us when we left camp that morning. And he caught up to us when we were resting at the falls. We chatted a bit, said our goodbye’s in case we didn’t meet up again, and he carried on. Milkshake went off to go pee in the woods, and then we were off again for the last stretch of the trail.
The last 4 to 5 miles minus the last mile to the ocean, was on a wide gravel path that horses and bicycles can also travel on. We saw a biker, smelled and noticed how healthy some horses were but never actually saw any horses. And we caught up to Little IT Guy. Chatted again, said goodbye again, and passed him up. We stopped to bandage Milkshake one last time and spent the next mile or so with Little IT Guy. We came up to a hiker coming the opposite way with a full pack and stopped him to ask where he was coming from and how far we still had to go. He said something about a sign about 200 yards ahead that says 1.5 miles or something. We thanked him, and moved on all excited that we were almost there, and Little IT Guy chatted with him some more. Kindred spirits and all, they even had the same backpacks.
That silly hiker dude does not know 200 yards if it kicked him in the ass. We didn’t hit that sign for probably three quarters of a mile or something. At least that’s what it felt like to me. I had to stop and relieve my back or it was going to revolt. I told Milkshake that I knew we were almost done but I just needed to stop one last time. While sitting and stretching, up came Little IT Guy, and he proceeded to tell us how stupid the silly hiker dude was. He said that silly hiker dude was seeing how far he could go today because he was doing the Grand Canyon the next day. Little IT Guy was all, “you don’t go and spend all your energy the day before a big backpacking trip. He’s going to be so tired and wasted.” Those weren’t his exact words but he basically said that guy was just stupid. Little IT Guy went ahead of us because Milkshake decided she needed to test out the bathroom at the trail camp we had stopped at. She came back with a report of “that is the worst bathroom out here.” Good to know.
We cinched up the packs, one last time. We came to a sign that said, Hikers go this way, horses and bikes that way. We debated which to take and decided we were going to stay authentic and take that hikers route. DEAR LORD, it was uphill again. Ugh! Milkshake was swearing we were going to wrong way and we’re on the wrong trail. We finally came to a clearing on the rocky cliff wall we were on and saw the ocean! We were on the right trail. And we were almost there. We were almost to the ocean! You could smell it!!
The trail got pretty narrow and overgrown in spots and of course I was wearing shorts today. And I got some nasty stinging nettle in the back of my calf. Holy hand grenade, it hurt! It didn’t stop hurting till the next day.
We made it to the last trail camp at the little ranger station on Hwy 1. Little IT Guy was sitting at a picnic table eating his lunch. So we said our goodbye’s to him one last time and wished him luck on his return journey and on his backpacking trip on the John Muir portion of the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) with his daughter. We walked out of the park, crossed Hwy 1, threw our packs on the pavement... if we could throw, that is. I proceeded to take off my shoes and socks and headed for the water. It was freaking windy and cold, so no running into the water, but it wasn’t a complete trip for me unless I got my feet wet.
Milkshake had gotten one shoe off by the time her husband showed up. I was on my way back from the water. Milkshake and I were both glad we kept true to the trail and didn’t take any short cuts or deviations. Her husband gave us both huge bottles of electrolyte water and drove us back into Santa Cruz. Milkshake told him to take us the yogurt shop for milkshakes... IMMEDIATELY!! Which, of course he did, because he’s cool like that, yo.
We were dirty, tired, achy, hungry, sore, exhausted, stinky, and happy. We did it. We made it... alive. Neither of us had done anything like this before. It was great to get away from the world for a while and actually experience... the world. It was beautiful, quiet, and peaceful. It left me sore and walking funny for a few days but it was refreshing and left me invigorated and inspired. For what, I don’t know.
I highly recommend doing a backpacking adventure at least once in your life. I did it. And I know now that I don’t like backpacking. I like hiking. And I like camping. But I don’t like carrying everything on my back. I am not a sherpa.