Day 21- 20 miles from just past Deep Creek Hot Springs (308.1) to Cleghorn Picnic Area (328.1)

McGuyver and I sleep in late. Ziploc and OT walk by, Ziploc making a hurry-up motion at me and Oldtimer giving a cheery good morning.

We take our time packing up. It’s 7 by the time we’re out of our sleeping bags so it’s good we moved on last night to avoid the rangers ticketing campers. I eat things from my food bag and head off. Deep Creek is green below. I cross the rainbow bridge and graffiti and trash start showing up on the side of the trail. “Uh… no homo?” says one, and another points down a steep ravine- “Danger, Bov is death.”

I bring out my trash Ziploc and fill it up with trash as I go. I crush the plastic bottles and cans I find and stuff them in my mesh pocket. This section is really bad with trash, and it’s slow going. The trail starts switchbacking down towards the Mojave Dam, and dayhikers start showing up. I find an unopened beer bottle in a bush that expired in 2016.

Eventually I don’t have room left in my pack and start collecting the bottles in my arms. I ask some of the dayhikers if they’ll pack one or two out for me but they decline. Eventually I just have to make a pile by the side of the trail and leave a note on the PCT marker nearby asking hikers to help carry a couple of pieces of trash out.

I’ve filled my first gallon Ziploc and bring out a second. I filter water with Steve and Veronica and McGuyver at the Deep Creek Ford, and then I walk across in my shoes. There’s much less trash on this side of the river, but I do find a bush covered in unused TP and some more bottles.

I see no one else but Steve and McGuyver for most of the rest of the day. The trail is mostly flat as it follows the side of the hills. It’s a burn area and there are blackened husks of large bushes with new growth at their bases. Purple-blue Penstemon and big yellow flowers grow on the hillsides. In spots where it isn’t sheltered wind gusts batter me.

I want to order pizza, so as the miles go by I keep an eye on mileage and time. As long as I can get to Cleghorn by 7 I’m good. A pizza place will do take-out orders to there. With 8 miles to go I go for it, not stopping to take breaks. I’m ordering pizza for Steve and McGuyver, too. The trail drops briefly down onto the side of the highway to cross the spillway coming from the Silverwood Lake Dam. Then it climbs up again through thick green bush taller than me, and crests the rise to a view of the lake. It’s pretty and big, and there’s much less trash in the area than there was last year. Last year you couldn’t walk five feet without seeing a new piece of litter.

I push on and get to Cleghorn Picnic Area. Big banks of cloud roll over the hills ahead, the wind pushing them fast, but they dissipate and seem to go nowhere. It’s cold now.

I call the pizza place and put in an order for a veggie pizza and a meat lover’s for Steve and McGuyver. Steve comes in and sets up at a picnic table. A guy named Commando because he wears a kilt comes in and we decide to let him share, too. I make some spicy ramen to warm myself up while we wait. The pizza shows up but Macgyver doesn’t, and we huddle around the boxes and eat. It’s pretty good veggie pizza.

Steve and I setup to sleep on the picnic tables. I go to the bathrooms and sit in the warmth for a while before going back outside. I put on all my layers and crawl into my bed. The wind is restless and chilly and searching, and in the distance people are laughing.