0 In California (USA)/ Pacific Crest Trail

PCT 2018 Days 16-21

Day 16

Miles: Probably around 10ish. Today was hard to calculate but we camped at PCT mile 182.7

Health: Ankles a bit blah.

Currently reading: Hindsfeet on High Places & The Last Battle & 1 Peter

Mother Hen and I rolled out of our place in Idylwild at around 5:20am. It was hard to say goodbye to the bed. Since we left so early we didn’t have a ride to the trailhead. This turned out to be a horrible idea because walking it was awful. It was a good 2 miles of uphill road walk and we were pooped before even making it to the trailhead. There are many different ways to leave Idylwild and get back to the PCT but only one goes back to the fire closure, the South Ridge Trail. We don’t want to miss any open miles so we opted for that one. It’s a bit longer than the others but the elevation gain is so crazy that it’s actually kinda nice to have that spaced out. It was a tough climb for sure but the morning was absolutely gorgeous and the views were otherworldly. It looked like a postcard.

Unfortunately, it took us so long to get back to the PCT we ended up having to rethink our idea to summit San Jacinto (the highest mountain in Southern California) that day. We ran into Mike who gave us some ideas and we decided to camp a few miles up from the San Jacinto trail and do it early tomorrow morning.

We made camp around 2:00 which was painfully early but the only option. Our campsite was on a bluff overlooking a huge valley. It was stunning. Jason and Karlie took another trail up but ended up joining us at camp soon after we arrived.

We had dinner around a giant rock/makeshift table. I get to try out my new warmer gear tonight! I hope I’ll be warm because I think tonight will be a cold one.

Day 17

Miles: About 18.5

Health: Just tired

Currently reading: The Last Battle & Area X Book 1 – Annihilation & Birthmarked & 1 Peter

We awoke at 3:30 to get a jump on Mt. San Jacinto. We were slow breaking down camp and left about 4:45. It was a long 3 miles up to the trailhead. All uphill. We dropped our bags at the base so we would not have to carry them up. We then walked half a mile to get water from a river not knowing he same river was also on the San Jacinto trail. The trail up to the peak of San Jacinto (the tallest mountain in the San Jacinto Mountains) was really steep. It was a tough climb for sure. There was a lot of scrambling and huge rock steps to get up. I was wrecked by the time we reached the top. The mountain stands 10,834 ft tall. The view was grand as you could see where we had come from and down into Palm Springs.

I flew on the way down as I love to go downhill but hate uphill. I’m different from most hikers in that way. I also love the heat and hate the cold. Also different. I ended up going so fast that I have momentarily lost Krisanne. We had discussed camping at mile 194 but I couldn’t even get there being so tired, so I stopped at 193 hoping she would show up. She must have stopped further back and since I have no cell signal, it will be interesting trying to find each other.

Day 18

Miles: 16 to mile 209

Health: Everything hurts a bit. My hands look like 65 year old man hands and I got sunburnt.

Currently reading: Birthmarked & 1 Peter

I slept horribly. My new air mattress seems to be faulty and kept deflating. I’m not sure if it has a hole or since the air was much colder than my breath the air constricted a lot. I’m thinking the former. I just have to last until Big Bear Lake and I’ll return it.

I was able to contact KP through Instagram messenger. Weirdly I could get in instagram but not send texts. Sprint is weird. She had camped about 3 miles back because her knee was hurting and said she’d hike out to me in the morning.

I was very slow this morning and she rolled into camp before I was ready. We hiked on for about 6 miles downhill, to my happiness, until we reached the big 200 miles marker. It seemed like 100 miles took forever but 200 snuck up on us. It felt good to pass that point and to be well beyond the dreaded first two weeks, when many people drop out. We’ve made it this far.

The rest of the day was poopy as we descended into the desert of Palm Springs. I was so excited to be in actual desert and to be warm, but alas, I was just met with mental 65 mph winds to the face. I still hate wind and now it was messing with the desert I was so happy to see.

We had heard so much about a swarm of bees that the class of 2018 was having to deal with at mile 202. We were prepared with our gloves and KP had her bug-net. We glided past to 203 without seeing a single bee. We heard later that many other hikers had problems with the swarm but we never even saw them. Yay!

We had a twenty mile dry stretch so we were carrying lots of water. When we finally made it to the spigot at 205 we were met with a most unwelcome resting point. The wind whipped sand and dirty into our faces and he sun beat down onto our already burnt skin. I sat down and wondered why I was here. This was going to be one of the bad days.

We still had a four mile stretch of unprotected desert to get to an underpass that usually had trail magic. We started out and were soon swept up into the most intense wind yet. We were surrounded by the Palm Springs wind farm if that tells you anything. It was a very, very long four miles. Oh, and we were walking in deep sand.

Finally, finally we made it to the underpass of interstate 10 and while thousands of cars and trucks whizzed above, we sat down to drink a bit of flavored water that some trail angels had left. I had been praying for an orange but no such luck, only hot dogs that I couldn’t eat.

We then had to decided where we were going to camp. There were no protected campsites for another 8.5 miles, so that was a no go. We decided, along with about 10 other hikers, to sleep right there under the bridge. It was going to be a loud night with the cars and trains overhead.

I looked at the map on my phone and noticed the glorious words of “Taco Bell” only a few miles off. Taco Bell is my jam, in case you don’t know that. KP and Derek and I decided to get an Uber to TB and brought back some goodies for the other hikers. This made my day turn around real quick. It was also a dream because I could order all I wanted and didn’t have to worry about the calories! Double yay!

Our Uber driver back thought we were nuts that he was dropping us off at the overpass for us to sleep that night. It’s going to be a loud night. Here’s hoping my mattress stays inflated.

Day 19

Miles: 19.5

Health: My feet are killing me.

Currently reading: Birthmarked & The Sleeper and the Spindle & Prized & 1 Peter

Well, my mattress is jacked. I’ll have to return it and get some sort of replacement. That sucks for the next 3 nights. I’m going to freeze my butt off. I talked to a few other hikers and they all had the same experience with that mattress. Used it once and it would never stay inflated again. Never buy the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Xtherm! It’s garbage!

We visited the Mesa Wind Farm hiker area. It was amazing! They let you come into their offices to their lunchroom and use WiFi and eat food! We stayed about and hour it was so great!

The hike today was a lot of up and down. Just when you got up to a high elevation we would go right back down into the valley and lose it all again. Frustration nation.

My plantar fasciitis was acting up all day so I was going very slowly. KP was way ahead of me for most of the day. I passed her at the very end as I hobbled to the campsite we had chosen. We had some cold dinner and set up camp.

Day 20

Miles: 18.5 to Coon Cabin

Health: Just cold. Oh so cold.

Currently reading: Prized & 1 Peter

Today was a doozy.

First, at midnight I awoke to the cold hard ground because mattress had deflated. After I blew it up again for the umteenth time I rested my head on my pillow and suddenly heard a soft hissing sound. Is that what I think it is? The elusive hole in the mattress making itself known? I threw on my headlamp and put my mouth to the mattress (that’s the best way to find tiny holes in fabrics) and lo, I found it! I grabbed my repair kit and used way to much, but it was sealed! It stayed inflated the rest of the night! Tonight should be really cold, so it’ll be good to test it. But, praise the Lord!

We packed out camp and left by 6:20. I was moving so slowly this morning. My foot isn’t hurting much which is another praise. I was worrying about getting a shin splint but of the foot but it seems to be better.

We are both so tired at this point, we were just dragging. Five miles took us was to long. We stopped to get creek water and enjoyed watching all the silt and dirt swirl around before ingesting it.

We gained major elevation today. We started at 3866 and went to 8100. As we went up, the snowstorm that was supposed to hit the next morning decided to make and early entrance. Bugger. It snowed/hailed all day long. We were cold, wet, and hungry. We had planned to get to a small campsite at mile 248 but we realized we could suffer from hypothermia and decided that wasn’t a great idea because it was at a really high elevation. Just as we were starting to get slightly scared for what we were going to do the Lord brought us a perfect option. We had heard about this place called Coon Cabin but were told you had to reserve it 3 days in advanced. Well, we reached the cabin and while KP took a break I went up to investigate.

The cabin was totally open to the elements and could probably pass as 60 years old with graffiti left from hikers since long gone. It became a health and safety concern for us not to stay outside so I decided we should stay there and take our chance with Ranger anger. The cabin was creepy af but I love that so it added to the excitement for me.

About 15 minuets after we arrived a few more Thru hikers showed up and told us that the cabin is actually open to Thru hikers, so we were happy we wouldn’t get into any trouble. We all ate dinner and set up our tents for a cold, cold night. Tomorrow night I’ll be in a bed in Big Bear Lake. I can’t wait.

Day 21

Miles: 19.7

Health: Feet hurt but not to badly.

Currently reading: Promised & 1 Peter

I feel like I am constantly saying in my blogs that “today was the craziest day yet.” Well, those were all lies because today was pure insanity.

First off, I only slept a few hours in the Coon Cabin because there were mice running around all night keeping me up. They even chewed through part of my backpack because I had forgotten to take out a wrapper of a particularly horrendous protein bar from early that day. Thankfully, it was only a small hole and I rescued my pack before the little mongrels did more damage.

We awoke to five inches of new snow and a blizzard in full swing. What to do, what to do? We desperately wanted to get down to Big Bear where we had a hotel waiting for us. It was going to be a day just short of twenty miles so we didn’t have much time to wait around.

One of the guys in the cabin kept saying how unsafe it was to go out in this weather and that as they-hikers we didn’t have the proper gear. Well, it’s going to snow again in the Sierras and possibly Washington so what are we supposed to do about snow then?

We decided to go out in it, seeing as it was fresh powder and not icy. We also didn’t think waiting was going to do anything but make the situation worse. Plus, it was an adventure.

We left the others behind and headed out into the snow. We were surprisingly warm considering we didn’t have rain pants. We had to find the trail since everything was covered in inches of snow. I, who usually drags on uphills, took the lead and found it much easier to do uphills in the snow and cold. That and my bag was so much lighter with only two litres of water and a day left of food.

It took us a surprisingly short amount of time to get up both peaks and then it was mostly just losing elevation from there. The views were beautiful, I wish I had more photos but we were just going so fast I didn’t take time to stop. As we lost elevation it was like we stepped into Narnia as the winter finally melted away with the White Witch’s power. The snow turned to big droplets from the enormous trees surrounding us. We didn’t take many breaks and did almost the whole 19.7 miles nonstop. Our feet were cold and wet and sore by the end.

In the final mile we passed mile 265 which meant we had officially made it 10% of the way. We posed for photos next to the monument.

We started out that morning between 7:09-7:30am and pulled into the hitchhiking area at 3:30. There was some trail magic and we each grabbed a celebratory soda. As we walked towards the road a lovely couple pulled up and asked if we needed a ride. This hitchhiking thing has been a breeze so far. We climbed in and chatted with them for the 15 minuet drive to Big Bear Lake to our hotel.

The hotel was so lovely and we were upgraded to a double queen room which meant we each got our own bed! We showered and called family and got our laundry together. We went to the laundromat and met a few other hikers. (You can always spot a thru-hiker by their puffy. We all have them and wear them constantly.) We then went to dinner at an Indian/Nepali restaurant. Oh, to sleep in a bed! Never take that for granted! It is a true gift. That, and chairs. Chairs rock.

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