I'm writing from a well air-conditioned public library in Big Bear with a belly full of blueberry pancakes. Chris and I treated ourselves to a night in a Motel 6 with laundry, showers and Sports Center after officially completing 10% of the trail. It finally feels like we're making some progress here!
The past couple days have been a mixed bag of terrain, and very pleasant. Coming out of Idyllwild we had a steep climb back up to the PCT - 2.5 miles and 2,000 feet up. The elevation does provide cooler temperatures, and even big patches of snow that we had to slip and slide over. While we were well rested and well-fed on our first day back after a delightful stay with Kath's friend, Shambo, we only covered about 15 miles (plus the 2.5 to get back to the PCT) because of the steep climbs, slippery snow, 5.5 days worth of food and lots of water on our backs. We camped in a sandy wash somewhere around the border of a wilderness zone and a state park. Sometimes it's tough to know exactly where you are but Chris can make a good estimate of our mileage based on how long we've been going. It's great hiking with a mathlete!
The next day started out with endless switchbacks back and forth over the little village of Snow Creek. The destination was a water fountain provided by the Desert Water Agency. After a couple hours of toe-mashing downhill under an increasingly hot sun and seemingly no closer to this fountain, we broke for lunch under the shade of a rock. With our spirits restored, we skipped down to the fountain in a matter of minutes and loaded up on this precious resource in the company of lots of fellow thru-hikers - Joey, Andrea, Neil, John, Square Peg, Meaghan, and Gourmet.
But the day was only getting started... we continued on, loaded up with water, and met a trail angel on our way to cross the Coachella Valley. Bill welcomed us to the armpit of the PCT and treated us to Pringles and Gatorade before we set out on the discombobulating trek through this windy flat stretch. The trail was a little hard to follow, very sandy and the wind was something out of a movie. I had a bandanna over my nose and mouth, my hat clamped onto my head as I staggered to keep up with Chris against a gale-force head wind. No wonder there are so many wind turbines flapping in this stretch, the wind is no joke. We finally took refuge from the wind under the seedy I-10 highway overpass, collected ourselves and continued on to the Mesa Wind Farm and beyond to camp with Joey in a delightfully remote wash in Teutag Canyon. 22 miles later, we were happy to have that ugly stretch behind us.
For our slog through the wind tunnel, we were treated to a couple days of all the water we could ask for. We skipped over Mission Creek throughout one day of hiking, taking several breaks to soak our feet in the chilly snow melt. We also paused plenty to enjoy the scenery - fragrant pine trees and lupines along the trail. Chris saw a baby rattlesnake trying to ingest a large lizard. A trail angel - Dave - who is following his sons met us with popsicles one day. All the while, Big Bear City was calling our name with the promise of Sizzler buffet and Thelma's cinnamon rolls. In our haste to get to town, we almost succeeded in the 10x10 challenge - 10 miles by 10am!
Having gorged, got our TV fix, rested our feet and doctored Chris' heel blister, we're hoping to hit the trail again this afternoon and get in a couple miles this afternoon. We have 99 miles to go until Wrightwood and our next resupply.
- Emily (kinda Beetle, but I'm having a hard time adopting this other identity) and Sundog