Sunday, May 20, 2012
Big Bear City/Lake (mile 265)
It's been an up and down week, geographically.
It started off well. I had a good hike out of Idyllwild and over the summit of Mt San Jacinto, 10,800+ ft. Gorgeous views of both the surrounding mountains and the desert floor 9500 feet below. After the summit I filtered more than a gallon of water for that evening and most of the next day, and camped on a pretty ridge at 8400'.
The next day (Wednesday I believe) I got an early start. There were still patches of snow on the trail. I started the 17 mile 6500' descent to the next water. Fine at first but hotter and hotter, with no real shade. I tried to ration my water and only ran out a mile or two from the water source. The last few miles were miserable though, and I was definitely thinking about a lot of non-desert places I could be on a plane to the next day. I finally got to the drinking fountain run by the good folks at the Desert Water Agency, and drank at least two quarts (and some salted nuts and dried fruit for electrolytes) in the shade of a large boulder. Then it was still another grueling five miles under I-10 (where a kind soul had stocked coolers of ice cold soda and beer) to Whitewater House, which is basically the backyard of a really sweet older couple. They provide shade, ice water, internet, some food, and general hospitality. The place and the crowd of hikers there cheered me up lots. It was still 100 degrees when I got there at 6:30.
Thursday was a pleasant and cooler early morning desert hike, then a too long but nice siesta at Whitewater nature preserve (with shade and a stream fed pool.) Then I got mildly lost for a while, and relearned the lesson that one should immediately backtrack rather than trying to be clever. Then over a ridge with somewhat alarming 70ish MPH gusts as the sun got low, and finally to a sheltered flat place by a stream.
Friday was a long but gentle ascent back to 8000+' with the welcome reappearance of trees. In the middle there were various bunches of poodle dog bush, which is a fire follower with symptoms like poison oak if you touch it, but I managed to steer clear.
And finally yesterday was pleasant rolling ridge line between 7000 and 8000 feet. Towards the end my right upper calf started to hurt a lot on every step, so today I am resting it up a bit while I resupply in town.
Three of us got a ride from the trail to town from a really nice couple, Mike and Gina Russell. He's even blogged a picture of us already. http://blog.jetsettingmagazine.com/?p=26989
I'm 1/10 of the way to Canada. Hiking nine times this far again still seems unimaginable, but still, I'm getting there.