Mile 109.5 Warner Springs to 266.0 Big Bear Lake
Day Six: 8 May 2015
Start: HM 109.5
End: HM 115 camp area at Agua Caliente Creek
GPS Point: 33.311008, -116.627581
Day Total: 5.5 mi
Water at Warner Springs Resource Center
Rained all day but needed to get going. Having laundry done put me a day behind. But people at the Resource Center were so wonderful. This morning we had ingredients for making pancakes, cheesy onion eggs, and toast. There were also hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch but my burger was given away. I was able to sleep in, organize my gear, assess the maps and how far I want to go, caught up some computer stuff for the blog and resupply, talked to my mom, discovered my charging cable doesn’t work, soaked my feet in a foot bath with Epsom salts, and so many wonderful things. Also slept under the tarp in rain with minor issues. Great learning experience to better prepare for future rain situations. Definitely want to build a raised edge on the ground sheet so water goes under and cannot pool on top. Also need to make sure my vestibule doorways are properly extended because water can drop in that way. Wish the vestibules had a slightly longer length so they were closer to the ground when extended. Also think there might be a tiny hole at the top were water dropped right on my center. May just need to tape a bag over the outside or even duct tape might suffice. Also discovered how great my quilt is at warmth even in rain. And I have a great venting system with my pillow to cover my face but be able to breath fresh air. Loving the quilt and double insulating foam pads! So glad I brought the “luxurious” extra pad to sleep on. Not as good as a bed, but way better than just the 3/4 pad without the additional head to toe warmth. Slept great last night and slept in! But I am fully conscious of being a day behind. I have a creeping ambition to finish in less than the estimated 99 days. And try to hike OR’s highest peak, Mount Hood, from Timberline Lodge. I am tempted. It may mean leaving behind good hiking company.
Camped at Agua Caliente Creek. Great camp area. Met a cool 25/26 (birthday on May 12th) guy named Ben who is a day ahead of me. Hosted at Girlscout’s the night after Brandon and me. I definitely want to get going now that I see he has only been doing 25 mile days to be a whole day ahead already. He may want to finish in less than 100 days now that I said I was planning it. Guy named Jackson also showed up at our camp site. He’s from San Diego and gave bear canister advice for the Kennedy Meadows section. His dad is the western states bear manager who decides what canisters are allowed and what techniques are acceptable. Cool and informative, plus relieving to know I don’t have to hike between bear boxes if my miles work differently. Glad to be back on trail away from the Center, too many people hanging out there if I am honest. Kind of distracted me from the hike.
Two days in one.
Day Seven: 9 May 2015
Start: HM 115
End: HM 143 sandy area near Table Mountain Truck Trail crossing
GPS Point: 33.499568, -116.570308
Day Total: 28 miles
Water at Mike Herrera Road mi 127, Guzzler cistern 139.5
Today was like two days in one for me. My clock has two time settings. The main one is for Pacific time and the other is Central. Somehow I switched it to Central in the night and woke up thinking everything was running two hours later than reality. The morning was crisply cool, overcast, calm, and quiet. We pounded out the first 12 miles by 10:00 AM and I thought it was noon. We ran into Sunflower who mentioned stopping for lunch and I thought we had already been waiting too long. About the same time I discovered my time error, we reached the house of Mike Herrera, at mile 127. I thought it was just a water stop. Saw the sign for a register by the house. Brandon and I walked over and discovered a time warp of hikers, PCT supporters, pancakes, potatoes, bacon, doughnuts, Mexican mimosas (Orange juice with tequila), and chickens were smoking for lunch. Brandon and I ate a second breakfast, score on bonus food!, and got out of there after about an hour. Some of the hikers had been there a couple days. They were technically riding out the snowy weather, but the place definitely has the feel of somewhere you meant to stop for water and just never left. Made me think of Ogygia, the island from the Odyssey with the lotus eaters. Saw Jackson resting at the upper water tank resisting the lure of music below. Anyways, once leaving Mike’s the day was suddenly sunny, hot, and slightly breezy. That marked day two. Today’s mileage actually felt like forward progress and not just winding in and out of the same mountain. We’ve finally moved north on a significant scale. I feel the progress. Very happy. We plugged ahead until running into Ben at the Guzzler cistern. Realizing we too were out of water,we had to filter and treat the nastiness. Thankfully Ben let us use his filter! Will definitely watch the water report locations better going forward. Then hiked on to a beautiful sandy area that has endless camping space and relatively protected. So nice! We’d meant to go on another mile plus but this site was perfect. We relaxed in the setting sun, ate supper, and I am cowboy camping tonight. First night! The weather really hasn’t been good for it. Since my tent is actually a tarp construction, cowboy camping is literally the same except no cover. Which saved some put up and tear down time. Otherwise isn’t really not that different. I suspect there might be some warmth loss, but my sleeping bag is so wonderful that I do not think I will notice a difference. Beyond the incredible star filled sky above me with zero light pollution and shooting stars. Fantastic!!
Not as many people today (beyond the ten or so at Mike’s). Finally starting to shift out of the pack we started with and working into an earlier wave of hikers. I don’t want to force Brandon’s hiking agenda, but I do want to make miles. Tonight I pushed us on for the extra three miles. It means tomorrow we hike 9 miles to Paradise Cafe and a fresh cooked meal of veggies and fruit! How I miss fresh food. Otherwise I feel great. My feet are slowly adjusting, I finally feel strong in the extra miles, and my legs are still working on the speed part. My body also hasn’t figured out its eating desires yet. I ate everything portioned for today plus the bonus food and feel full. Otherwise feeling really good! Excited to keep moving.
Road walking is the worst!
Day Eight: 10 May 2016
Start: HM 143
End: HM Alternate Mile 10.7 into Idlewild
GPS Point: 33.74518, -116.71161
Day Total: 18 miles
Water at Paradise Cafe mi 152
Today I decided I dislike the detours. There are three detours in total. Two for fires and one for an endangered species. Today’s alternate route would have added about 5 miles to the original distance, taken me up, over and down two big climbs, and would not have been well marked. I opted instead to skip that 20 mile detour and walk the 10 miles of road towards Idlewild. After the worst road walk ever, Brandon, Ben, and I hitched into Idlewild. So I caught up my mileage from the stop at Warner and skipped a terrible alternate section. With my upcoming move to Santa Barbara, I think I will wait until the three detours are back to normal and then hike the official routes.
Apparently we camped near a major pot growing area last night and the incessant dogs barking were actually watch dogs. The group who had holed up at Mike’s also caught up. They night walked. I woke up around nine thirty as they walked past.
We hiked hard for Hwy 74, mi 152, where Brandon and I met Collin and Diego, two friends from Utah. The four of us got a ride to Paradise Cafe a mile down the highway. At the cafe we ate glorious omelettes and had a beer. Ben caught up and then took off down the road walk ahead of us. The highway walking was brutal. Hot, stagnant air. Barely a shoulder in some areas. Some sketchy bridge crossings. We arrived to Hurkey Creek Campground ans decided to hitch straight into Idlewild. A nice woman named Connie picked us up. Idlewild is a cute little town. Sort of spread out, and everyone drives like maniacs. Cute nonetheless. A guy named Carlos offered to give us a ride back to trail tomorrow; we met him at a pizza restaurant.
Turns out Ben will continue on with us. Tomorrow we start at mile 179.4 Humber Park, hike up San Jacinto Peak, then descend about 9000′ over 17 miles. We plan to reach the bottom of the pass and camp there for the night.
We hung out at the Idlewild bakery. The owner is a thru hiker who let’s hikers camp in the Manzanitas outside and access to washer/dryers and a bathroom. Pretty awesome! Fairly large crowd hanging around.
Jackson caught up in Idlewild too. Also a bunch of other new people. Most started before us. We are definitely more focused than many. Ben has opted to start enjoying the hiker extras and trail angel generosity. Second night cowboy camping. Super tired tonight. Loud crowd of people staying up late but I will sleep easily.
San Jacinto Peak and muscle cramps.
Day Nine: 11 May 2015
Start: HM 179.4 Humber Park
End: HM 197 Fuller Ridge
GPS Point: 33.871156, -116.711446
Day Total: 19.3 (added San Jacinto Peak!)
Water at North Fork San Jacinto tributary mi 186.2
The wind is blowing so hard! I may not write much. We got a ride from the Bakery in Idlewild to Humber Park this morning with a man who hiked the PCT last year and is now following the herd up Cali to offer rides in his mini van. So thoughtful! Though not sure I’d be able to do such a thing for a whole summer.
The trail up San Jacinto was brutal. Big rocks, poorly maintained trail, giant steps, and steep. I got a muscle cramp in my left leg. Hurt like no cramp I’ve ever felt before. A pointed sharp pain in the calf on any motion of pushing off. Downhill was fine except that we had only just begun the ascent. The trip to the top took longer than any of us expected. And we barreled down with hopes of reaching the bottom of Fullers Ridge. Just shy of 20 miles we stopped at an exposed campground. With the setting sun, the wind suddenly started and there is little in way of protection. I have everything in my bag or rocked down. Hopefully nothing can blow away. Cowboy camped again solely because I didn’t think my tarp would offer much in way of wind protection beyond listening to it flap all night. Mostly I am just conscious of the sand I will have plastered in my hair and on my face by morning. We were all beat and called it an early night. It just passed eight and I am ready to hunker down.
Collin from yesterday has joined our band momentarily. His friend Diego was staying in Idlewild. Ben’s birthday is tomorrow. We met three guys at the water spot who had lost their friend. None of us had seen her. A big group headed out from the Bakery this morning but we never ran into them.
Peak of San Jacinto was amazing. So worth the grueling up hill followed by the unending down off Fuller Ridge. Beautiful to see back at the mountains we hiked previously. And inspiring to watch the peak grow further away as we hiked on. Ben said a nice phrase by Muir about man not conquering mountains and even as they walk away their tracks are already blown away in the wind.
Three guys just walked past. Possibly the three AT guys who have been on our trail. Plus they’ve walked by at night before.
That’s it. About 69 miles to Big Bear where I plan on my first real zero. Laundry, shower, bed, loaner clothes, and a whole day to catch up on the non hiking side of my life.
I’ve acquired a trail name: Schemes!
Day Ten: 12 May 2015
Start: HM 197
End: HM 220 Whitewater Creek sandy river beach oasis
GPS Point: 34.01051, -116.67143
Day Total: 23
Water at 205.7 Snow Canyon Rd (Desert Water Agency faucet), mi 210.8 Ziggy and the Bear Whitewater Hiker House, mi 220.4 Whitewater Creek (north of Red Dome)
I’ve taken a trail name today. Brandon tried Two Zip on day one. Ben tried Dill yesterday. But today they announced Schemes, and that one I like a lot.
Today was the first truly hot day. From right when we woke up to even now, the temperature has been warm. We stopped at Ziggy and The Bear’s Whitewater Hiker House for a long afternoon break after a hot and windy final stretch down Fuller Ridge and across the desert floor over to the house. There were heaps of people at Ziggy and Bear. I was surprised. A great setup though. The couple used to Trail Angel out of Anza for 15 years before buying that house in Cabazón specifically to host hikers. I am constantly aware of the overwhelming generosity and kindness of people along the PCT. The house has a sink right at the backyard entrance. And then virtually every inch of the back is carpeted and shaded for people to hang out and relax. They have a shower too. And accept packages. And there was a young woman helping out who apparently runs daily lunch orders for Little Caesars. They had cold drinks and a sign in, hiker box (where I found the perfect camp sandals!), outlets, laundry and a line, drinkable water, etc. it truly was an awesome place. Not sketchy and creepy like many of the other hiker hot spots. And as always, there were some people who had spent days off there.
I am surprised by how many people take days off at these little spots instead of at towns. With full services, things to do, and comfortable beds. I am also surprised by the foot carnage and general beaten look of people too. I suppose this activity really isn’t for everyone. And there is another set of people who just keep skipping ahead sections. Which is crazy to me. I understand wanting to skip, but not the actual doing of the skipping. I will admit that I am no saint. I skipped at the fire detour and plan to repeat that for the other two sections. But I also plan to return when those sections are finalized and hike them then. As well as be completely honest about the skipping of these sections.
After leaving, we had a hot and steep climb over a pass and down into a river valley that is truly beautiful. We are cowboy camped right by Whitewater Creek on the flood plain. I have tempted the guys with a really early start tomorrow in hopes that we A) actually go the desired 26 miles, B) have the possibility of aim inning for 36 miles, and C) because tomorrow will be uphill in the full brunt of the sun. I am a day behind on my schedule. Right now I like the idea of a hostel Thursday and camp Friday. But they are supposed to get snow Friday, so I want to be prepared for either way. Regardless, I am a day behind schedule and I want to build some extra days in by doing longer miles. I have really enjoyed the company, and I like it a lot for morale and motivation. But I also have a goal and really care about having time in August to spend in Colorado more than slowing down on the PCT. I will have to think more on this.
My body is feeling pretty good. Today I felt thirsty for the first time. The heat and wind really sucked the moisture out of me. I am trying to be good about drinking plenty of water. I know the next 525 miles will continue to test my hydration awareness. Ben made a good comment that despite needing to think of forward movement on a stop by stop basis. It is good to step back and remember the big picture: getting to Canada. It will be easy to lose days while going along.
Bed now. Another clear and calm night to stare at stairs. There are several people at tonight’s camp point. A middle aged couple came back from the 226 mile point, calling it quits on their adventure due to tired bodies. I think it is sweet that they are out here together. I want to be an adventurous and ambitious couple with a significant other some day.
Mountain lion sighting!
Day Eleven: 13 May 2015
Start: HM 220
End: HM 246.4 Coon Creek Cabin group cabin
GPS Point: 34.14940, -116.71054
Day Total: 26.4
Water at mi 226.3 Mission Creek, 232.2 Mission Creek, 235.4 Mission Creek, mi 239.9 Mission Spring Trail Camp
Last night was some of the best sleep of all trip so far. And I woke up just before five and rubbed out my legs and feet. I was still the last one to leave camp, but I did have a nice conversation with the couple who showed up last night. They got up the pass and decided they were done. They were coming back down back to Cabazón to get somewhere they could rent a car to pick up their resupply boxes and head home. They said they needed a doctor’s care, so they were ready to be done. They gave me two blister band aids. So nice. Anyways, I took off after the guys, finally caught Ben just as we hit the first water source. I stopped for water and a snack, he kept going. I didn’t catch up again until lunch where Ben and Brandon were resting at the 235 last water. I was struggling today. Probably drank seven liters and never peed until after lunch. We pushed hard up to the 240 last water where their were many people lounging. That water was a trickle coming down from tree roots. Very cold and very slow. I was the last to leave again but I felt refreshed after the break in the shade. And I aired out and re-taped my tired feet. I killed the last six miles easy. We are cowboy camped on the front cement patio of the Coon Creek Cabin. The insides have clearly been vacant for a good 20-30 years. No doors or windows. Likely was an old cabin that was refitted in 1980 to be the shell it is now. Likely a Hunta Virus playground too.
Ben and I came up with Babel for Brandon’s trail name. He is against it, but I thought it was so fitting.
I saw a mountain lion today! Just as I was leaving the 240 water source, you cross a flat forested area. There are two roads then a trail crossing for Santa Ana Trail. It was on the trail walking just passed that. I kept a strong pace at it and it stepped off eventually, so I booked past. My camera has been in my pack all day, so I didn’t take the time to slow down and get a photo.
Tomorrow is supposed to get weather. And tonight will be dewy and cold. There are six on the patio. Three under a neighboring tree. And one more under a different tree. More may come in as evening sets in. Or at least be camped close by. 20 miles to the Big Bear hitch at mile 266! I have many town chores to take care of. This is all I can think of for now. Tonight is cold, genuinely cold.
In town for bad weather, best timing ever!
Day Twelve: 14 May 2015
Start: HM 246.4
End: HM 266.0 into Big Bear Lake
GPS Point: 34.24308, -116.90958
Day Total: 20 miles
No water. Soda at Big Bear Hostel trail magic stash.
So it may be official, my band of hiker friends is splitting off. The guys don’t plan to up their mileage, and I have a goal in mind. I want to move large miles. I will miss their company tremendously. Ben Thayer and Brandon. Great guys. But I have a goal. I want to spend time in Colorado for August. I know I can do large miles. It will just be lonely until I meet others who are willing to do large miles too. I may not meet anyone for a long time. I am coming up on the main herd, so at least I should see lots of people. Be able to camp in numbers. Lounge will fellow hikers. But no more support system like I have now. It is too sad to dwell on. There have to be more awesome people out there.
Today was a breeze. We covered the first four miles to the animal cages quickly. Then it was another quick three miles to the bomb Big Bear Hostel trail magic. They have a couch and tool chest out there in the woods with food and soda and fruit. So awesome! Once those first seven miles were down, it was just a game of picking off miles. I was in the lead and stopped at 261.5 for lunch. The guys caught up and we crushed the last 4.5 miles easily. A trail angel named Tinkerbell picked us up from Hwy 18 and took us to the post office then hostel. The hostel is great! I have loaner clothes, took a long hot shower, dried off with a towel, and have a bed with linens. After cleaning up, we headed out for supper. Went to a Thai place that had two entrées for the price of one deal. We all ordered two meals. So full but so delicious too. It had started snowing shortly after our arrival to the hostel. On the way back we stopped in a chocolate shop and I got Dryers Mocha Almond Fudge ice cream to go. Plus we stopped at a liquor store and got beer. This evening has been lounging on a couch with beer and TV movies. The hostel has so many hikers at it. Some have been here a day, others nearing a week. I suppose that is the way of zeroes. It has been unreal to think about the snow outside and know that I am safely in a dry warm place. Shelter never seems so good until you think about what dealing on your own is like. This was nice timing to hit Big Bear the day weather started. I do want to look ahead and see if there are more weather days coming that I can try to hike within. Especially if I will be on my own soon.
I am tired, full, and a little tipsy. So maybe more reflection tomorrow.
First Zero day!
Day Thirteen: 15 May 2015
Start: HM 266.0
End: HM 266.0 Big Bear Lake
GPS Point: 34.24308, -116.90958
Day Total: 0 miles
No water. Restaurants and easy food all meals!
Rethinking my Sierras mileage somewhat. Mostly just about shortening some miles and adding a resupply point. Lots of town chores today. That’s pretty much it. Resting my legs and feet. Eating copiously. Preparing for a strong kick off tomorrow.
I have decided that I will remain with the guys for the remainder of the desert. It will likely add four days total to my agenda, but it is worth making up miles later. I am enjoying my hiking companions, and this trip is about the people I meet just as much as the physical challenges I will encounter. Once the Sierras start I will be ready to take off on my own, but I want the company through the desert. This is the right choice and I am not regretting it at all. What I am thinking about is that my pack now has four days of food and feels VERY heavy. I am excited to get going. Being in town this whole time has felt like forever. I wasn’t productive at all. I barely got my town chores completed. It is already late but off to bed now.