PCT Mile: 265.5
This last section was a pretty tough one. Upon leaving Idyllwild, we hiked up and across Fuller Ridge. We didn't quite know what to expect because in years past it has been snow covered and sometimes difficult. This being an unbelievably low snow year, we crossed the ridge with ease, passing through snow and only post holing/sliding around a little bit. The next day, we faced the longest continual downhill on the whole PCT. For about 14 miles we traveled steep and winding switchbacks and lost thousands of feet of elevation. Going downhill is a bit grueling on the knees, but the really rough part was that we could see our destination below us for about 5 hours. And we kept slogging on... mile after mile, staring at I-10 and the road we wanted to cross. It really started to mess with our minds. One highlight of this infamous downhill climb, however, is that we passed MILE 200 (!!!) which was incredibly thrilling.
We finally reached the road and a water fountain where we took a break with other hikers. The sun was high and incredibly hot. There was one option for shade: a giant boulder with about 20 inches of shade below it. The two of us, along with maybe 6 other hikers, spent an hour nearly spooning in this small sliver of shade. We ate our lunches, shared candy, and lamented about that damn downhill climb. Then we set off on to the desert floor, heading towards Interstate 10...
|Hangin' under the bridge|
Under the bridge we found some amazing trail magic: sodas. They were cold and crisp and we were very hot and sweaty. The bridge provided some much appreciated shade.
|Ziggy And The Bear!|
From there we cruised on to the Whitewater Hiker House, the home of Ziggy and The Bear. These two are such dedicated Angels that when they started looking for a new home last year their main requirement was it's proximity to the PCT. And boy, are they close. You walk about 200 feet from the trail to get to their home, which they have set up for weary hikers. When you enter their backyard (through the Hiker Entrance) you are immediately greeted by Ziggy, who has you sign in and then takes you picture. You are then ushered into a seat where another amazing volunteer, Ron, brings you a steaming bucket of hot water and Epsom Salts. Ahhh. We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging with other hikers, using computers, and helping prepare for dinner and the ice cream social. Yeah, that's right! Ice cream social! Nearly 30 hikers stayed in their yard last night...what an amazing place.
|Mesa Wind Farm|
|Brother Man and Yankee Son charging in the desert heat|
|Bronco under his shade umbrella|
The next day was incredibly hot. We ventured uphill and past the Mesa Wind Farm making our way towards Mission Creek. Brother Man, Bronco (Jim), and Fairway hiked with us that day in the pounding heat. We enjoyed a nearly 3 hour siesta under a tree along side the creek where we were joined by nearly 10 other hikers. That night both Trav and I got the best night sleep we've had since we started hiking.
|Trail Magic: A couch and sodas in the shade!|
Saturday we put in a very long day: 25.5 miles. We faced some pretty long uphills and got up over 8000 feet again. We traveled most of the day with Brother Man, Iceman, Bronco, Fairway and Wade and leapfrogged with some new hiker friends, QBall, Beardo, Wolf Pack and more. This long day of hiking took us past two new/interesting experiences: 1. We had our first run in with Poodle Dog Bush, a nasty plant that creates a rash worse that Poison Oak or Ivy. We made it out okay, and dread having to meet it again. 2. We passed a chain-link fenced-in area that holds Hollywood stunt animals... so there we were, on the PCT, face to face with two Grizzly Bears and two Tigers. Seriously, it was a very strange sight. When we arrived to our destination campground that evening, we found three hikers from last year, Honey Badger, Dump Truck and Murph, with a little more magic... hot dogs, cookies, beer and sangria... Delish. There were 19 hikers in the campground that night and we were all looking forward to our arrival the next day in Big Bear.
We arrived here in Big Bear yesterday morning after a 10 mile walk. We had a lovely afternoon hanging out with hiker friends, catching up with friends and family over the phone, listening to music and playing Spades with Wade and Fairway. We enjoyed burgers at Thelma's and pizza for dinner. This hiker appetite thing is nuts... you can eat and eat and never really feel full. We're looking forward to celebrating Wampus Cat's birthday tonight! OH! And making it to Big Bear at mile 265.5 means we're 10% through!!
Overall, we're both feeling pretty dang good. We can feel that we are getting stronger and our aches and pains seem to be (somewhat) subsiding. Trav's knee is feeling sturdier and, while my blisters have calloused and no longer bother me, my feet are still tight and my Achilles has started hurting... time will tell on that one. My wild hair is bleaching out in the sun and Trav's beard is growing longer by the minute.
We're off in the morning, back into the desert... but in the meantime, you might recognize a couple goofs in the San Diego Union Tribune slideshow from Kick Off!
And...Our PCT Info Page