I slept crappy in the hotel, I don't know if it was due to not being prepared for sleeping in a bed or if I was just hot and full of thinking, but it was a restless night none the less. I was so glad to see my dad and happy that he came to get us on the fly like that. My dad and I have had our fair share of communication issues and differences of opinion about the trail and other things, so for him to do that was a huge breakthrough for me.
We had my Dad drop us off exactly where he picked us up and we even touched the gate again for good measure before sitting down in the shade to eat breakfast. We were passed by a couple pairs of hikers and we bid them good morning before following their footsteps to Ziggy and The Bear's trail angel house.
It was only 9am and already blazing out as we slogged across the open desert. My toes started to hurt again so I tried changing socks to see if it would help but I was still totally frustrated. My irritation was short lived and was replaced with a sense of satisfaction every time I looked back at San Jacinto and the ridge that I was on top of the day before.
The trail dissolved into a soft sandy wash just before the bridge at I-10 and I decided to walk it barefoot to see if that would alleviate the pain in my toes. It felt a bit better bit still hurt and it finally sealed the deal that me and injini toe socks are not friends. When we reached the bridge we saw a cooler and a bowl of bananas and plopped down on our matts so I could change my socks...again. Josh took two bananas so we could have peanut butter banana sandwiches at Ziggy and The Bear's. Just as we were packing up a woman called Gotta Walk stopped under the bridge and we chatted briefly before heading back out in the sun.
On the final push to Ziggy and The Bear's house the trail is lined with a series of signs spread a short distance apart so you are forced to keep hiking to read the entire sentence. The signs said: when you're hiking you get hot and sweaty so get ready for trail magic. Or something to that effect. The last signs point us to the side gate which lead us to a backyard full of hikers. Not a minute after we dropped our packs did we have a soda, Gatorade and a place to sit in the shade. We spent most of the day relaxing and eating on the patio, The Bear even takes orders for Burger King which was a nice treat! It was a very comfortable environment and had the feeling of being at grandmas house or something.
Around 5pm we packed up and headed for the trail. Some of the hikers mentioned it was supposed to rain and snow this weekend and Josh laughed them off. I took note but figured we would it be at high elevation during the storm. Our packs weighed a ton with a fresh resupply and extra water for the dry stretch ahead. It would be 8 miles to Whitewater preserve.
Josh and I started out with Pillsbury but I had to stop for my toes and I stopped again when I found an animal skull and mandible. Josh decided he wanted to trade shoes with me to see if they would help my feet. He wears Brooks Cascadia 9's and I am wearing Merrell Moab Vents. I agreed,considering he is having his Merrells sent to Big Bear and I'm having my Brooks sent so it makes sense to see if the shoes are even going to work for us. I was reluctant only because I don't want to hurt Josh's feet, but he insisted. Immediately the pressure was off my toes and Josh said he was happy to not feel every rock under foot so I'm hopeful the shoes in Big Bear will help.
I was able to hike faster in Josh's shoes until the trail climbed out of a canyon relentlessly. I've not had such steep grades on the trail as I did here. The wind was blowing dust on us from a headwind and the sky was turning purple. There is something about this desert at dusk that makes me feel terribly lonely. It brings up feelings from being little, living with my dad and having to leave my mom's house on Sunday nights. I've not had those feelings in a very long time and thought I'd released those 'divorce kid' issues ages ago but it's come up more than once on this hike. Not the memories, just the raw feelings. It's very strange.
I started to cry as I pushed myself up the last steep slope and told Josh that I didn't want to do this anymore, meaning climbing the hill. He then told me later he thought I meant the trail and his gut reaction was "no! I don't want to go back to work!" Which I thought was funny.
We started our descent into another canyon and had to put on our headlamps at the bottom. Josh was spent and we looked for a place to camp with no avail. We pressed on and the wind was howling, there was no moon in the sky and the degraded trail hugged a ridge line next to a deep canyon gorge that swallowed up the light from our headlamps. We stepped carefully, trying to avoid falling or being blown off the ridge into the bottomless canyon. When we topped out on a barren hillside Josh was done and we passed a small area nestled in a thicket of buck thorn that we thought we could pitch the tent in. We tried to lay the ground cloth, fighting the wind and struggling to put rocks on top of the sheet of tyvek while we pitched the tent we slid the pole into the body of the tent and realized the space was too small and that our tent would be damaged by the buckthorn if we continued. I told Josh we had to hike on and the look of disappointment on his face was crushing.
We dropped into another canyon and stood at a three way intersection of trails. I took one and it dissolved so we backtracked and tried another before finally finding the PCT. Finally we had lost the trail in the dark for the last time and decided this night hike was dangerous. We found a spot big enough to pitch which we named Manure Manor as it was a 'meadow' (read flat spot without sharp things) blanketed in dried up cow shit. We kicked the dung out of the way and eventually dove into the tent, shoes and all. We ate some snacks and passed out.
Right now it's 9pm the day after. I was so exhausted I couldn't write the blog. Even now I'm struggling to keep my eyes open and I have to write another entry! It is important to stay in good habits though I guess. I'll have tomorrow written in no time...I hope.
Until then, goodnight!