Day 19: Miles 266 to 281 (15 miles)
Day 20: Miles 281 to 303 (22 miles)
Day 21: Miles 303 – 325 (22 miles)
1 = Number of nights with snow
2 = Number of new patches on my sleeping pad
3 = Number of hats lost thus far
14 = Number of cookies eaten today
We made it back to the San Bernadino National Forest at 9:30 am Tuesday courtesy of Papa Smurf, a trail angel in Big Bear, CA who spotted us repackaging food outside of Von’s groceries and lured us back to his place with promises of a spaghetti dinner and a breakfast feast.
It was good to be back on the trail. My body has finally accepted this trail walking thing, so the humbling foot pain and blister mania of week one are now a distant memory. I’m down to about 0.5 ibuprophin per day from about 6. In another week I should have calves of steel. T-Fox is fairing better too but still enjoying some heel pain.
Shortly after we got on the trail I realized I left my classy straw hat at Papa Smurfs, which means that I am once again on the look out for trail loot in the form of a hat. I won’t miss spending 75% of my day holding that thing on when the wind blows, but I will miss avoiding heat stroke. Hopefully one turns up soon because tomorrow is supposed to be a scorcher. Perhaps I can fashion one from a hollowed out barrel cactus…
On tuesday we wanted to cover some miles, but the forecasted snow came to fruition at 4pm so we quickly set up camp as the sky delivered 2 inches of fresh at 8000′. Our gear choices are a bit aggressive since it’s SoCal (i.e. no rain pants) so we aren’t pushing it in challenging weather. Last night was a few degrees below freezing but we fared well. We enjoyed soft boiled eggs and avocado on toast Tuesday morning, which we packed fresh from town.
Today (Wednesday) we discovered some enormous pine cones, which led to an interesting discussion with BullDog about the differences between Ponderosa and Jefferies Pines. They both have similar puzzle piece bark, but the Ponderosa’s smell sweetly like vanilla and can develop monster cones. We huffed quite a few trees today.
Our hike today was a 22 mile descent from 8000′ to 4000′, which has us well positioned to make it McDonalds for dinner on Friday when we scoot under Interstate 15. There’s also a gas station there, so if the heat stroke doesn’t get me tomorrow or Friday then I’ll scoop up hat number 4 at Chevron.
We cruised past the 300 mile mark today, but sadly there was no commemorative marker for a photo op. There wasn’t even a gathering of well wishers with hot burgers and cool drinks. Perhaps that’s being saved for the 400 mile mark. When we snapped a commemorative picture at the 200 mile mark T-Fox didn’t realize the occasion until a day later, so it’s been a long time since she had the chance to celebrate.
We are now about 65 miles from White Water, CA where we are going to meet up with T-Fox’s parents and snag more groceries. The next few days are low elevation and forecasted to be hot, so we’re going to be hitting the trail early. It 8pm now and T-Fox is already asleep. She’s likely assuming I’m planning big miles for tomorrow. I guess I’d better come up with something about 20% too ambitious as usual.
Somedays feel longer than others. Somedays fly by like a child at an amusement park, who can’t believe the best day of their lives has sadly come to an end.
Today (Day 21)…was a crawler.
As Lorax mentioned, I (T-Fox) was knocked-out cold last night and happily sleeping by 8pm. I fell asleep so early, in fact, that I missed our usual conversation pertaining to what time we should set the alarm for.
Apparently Lorax felt that 4:45 am was a great time to get up. I heard several faint beeping alarms – like I do every morning- but like usual, I chose to ignore them…all. Before I knew it, Lorax was gently rousing me, with promises of fresh coffee and oatmeal. That works every time! The time was 5:30. Have I ever mentioned that I have the best husband ever?
We were fed, watered, and packed up by 6:15, feeling fresh and ready for some miles. The morning was spectacular! We hiked along a canyon wall, with a beautiful river raging below. Before we knew it, the time was 8am, and we were rolling into The Deep Creek Hot Springs. Everyone was either sleeping in their tents (or just sleeping bags if they chose to cowboy camp) or nude in the springs. We walked by Half-Full, and she tempted us with glorious tales of how magnificent the spring feels…and how crazy we would be to hike on and miss it! But I guess we’re crazy – we skipped it. Too many naked people for our liking…
Later on, we came across another river, where we bathed (fully clothed, which is our preference of public bathing) washed our clothes, and had a stellar lunch of crackers and cheese and cookies.
Then the heat hit. It wasn’t a complete scorcher, but it was hot enough. We had to hike a fairly open section with poor shade and a gradual incline. It shouldn’t have been a big deal…but some days, it just is.
So I trudged…and trudged…and tried not to ask Lorax how far we have gone, or what time it is…or at least not too often. Around 3pm, we stopped for a snack. I downed a granola bar in 10 seconds, and begged Lorax for another. He passed me a second…gone just as fast. Then he had the brilliant idea of an afternoon coffee. We both were needing the jolt. But hmm…too time consuming to actually boil water…and much too hot for coffee anyway. But a cold hazelnut coffee…with chocolate protein powder…?
What a drink! Once it kicked in, T-Fox was back in action. I motored my butt up those switchbacks like it was the beginning of a new day.
So while it was a tough day, coffee was, what I like to call, “my saving grace.” Some days I just need a little something,and today it was the life saving drug of caffeine.
And there was another “saving grace” today.
We see several flowers everyday, but they seemed particularly stunning today. With my head down, and my body in auto-pilot, I was blessed to notice them, and sighed a prayer of gratitude.
Thank you for being so beautiful. Thank you for blooming in such a way and at such a time that I got to see you before the sun fries you.
Thank you God for flowers.