Horse Heaven Campground - Mason Valley firetank.
Last night I slept on a picnic table and froze my ass off. From now on it's bumpy, uneven, insulating, cozy ground for me. And I definitely will uphold my resolution to never go off-trail to camp ever again, as in the morning we walk past lovely spots for inconspicuous tenting. I really like asking for input from others but need to remember that a thru-hiker's perspective is usually pretty different from other hikers, even experiences ones.
The sore throat has abated but now my nose is a faucet. I drench two handkerchiefs and move on to shirt sleeves. No wildlife today although Brian saw a rattlesnake. We met a guy attempting to complete the PCT with packhorses - fitting as we enter a section of trail that mail ponies used to travel through. One of his horses just became lame though, so he may be getting off trail at least temporarily. We walk though an incredibly scenic stretch of tral with amazing vistas, only to discover that the rock outcroppings have been turned into an impromptu memorial ground, with tacky plaques commemorating deceased loved ones glued onto the rock. There's also some seriously terrible grafitti, as this area is right next to road access.
I am a miserable bitch to Brian today, as I don't handle being sick and uncomfortable very well. I vow to be a better friend soon. He tells me my trail name can be New Leaf, in that case.
The peaks in the distance have an alluring cloud cover surrounding them and I long to be there, as it looks so much cooler. Eventually I do indeed get there and realize to my dismay that it is cooler, much cooler. In fact it is very cold and windy. Reynaud's kicks in and I have numb, white, very cold fingers that take an hour to warm up after we stop for water. I realize I definitely need my cold weather gear, all of it, even in the desert. Which really just means mittens and perhaps my warmer jacket.
We set up camp on the side of a dirt road by a firetank. It has a great wind break as it is carved into a brush covered hill, but my satisfaction is diminished slightly when I realize that the rock I am using to hammer in tent stakes was hiding a fecal used wet wipe and several batteries, both of which I grudgingly pack out after hand sanitizing extensively and wishing great ill on their former owner. I am sleeping in my garbage bag as a makeshift bivy, as there is so much condesnation in the air it may as well be raining. My nose keeps dripping in my journal as I write. I am pretty sure there are homeless people with cushier lives than this.