Friday, May 2, 2014

Days 10 - 13

Day 10: PCT miles 179 to 194 (+ 6 miles of access trails)

Preface: Unfortunately, due to a large fire last year 18 miles of the PCT are closed this year. I hitched into Idyllwild and hiked out to the open portion of the trail.

Idyllwild is a great little town. I could definitely spend some more time there. After my last post I went to a wine tasting and had a couple of great wines. Unfortunately my sleep that night was not very good, I felt really wired and restless. So  today was tough for me, not only was I tired but there was a 4000 foot climb to get back on the PCT. The trail was covered with slushy snow from the storm last Friday, making it a little more challenging to walk. The good part was that the snow kept my feet cool. Dropping down into the desert near Cabazon tomorrow, it will be hot.

Chops - class of 2013 out day hiking

Day 11: PCT miles 194 to 218

My campsite was a sweet little spot out of the wind. Big Red camped nearby but he had trouble with the wind. The first 13 miles were downhill and I dropped about 4000 feet until coming to a flat sandy stretch. There was trail magic under the I10 overpass and then I stopped off at Ziggy and the Bear's place. They are trail angels who open their house to hikers each year. I had a lovely foot soak in an Epsom salt bath. It's a tough life. After resting up for 4 hours I hit the trail and hiked another 8 miles until just before dark. Section B is officially done and I am now in the San Gorgonio Wilderness.

Trail Magic under the I10 overpass

Mesa Wind Farm

Day 12: PCT miles 218 to 240

Today was an excellent day, despite my slow pace. 6000 feet of elevation gain but it was spread out over 22 miles, so not very steep. I was really enjoying the beauty of the San Gorgonio wilderness. There were these odd horned caterpillars everywhere. I could see their entire life cycle in the shrubs around me. The eggs were laid on flowers in this mass of what looks like spit. Then the larvae emerge and start feeding where they were laid. There were different sizes of caterpillars feeding on a couple of different types of plants. I didn't see any pupae buy I am sure they were around, then the butterfly (maybe?) emerges and feeds on the nectar of the flowers which pollinates the plant and allows it to produce seed and the next generation. An amazing view of the ecology on a microcosmic scale.

There were thousands of these

Maybe the adult form?

 Now I am sitting at a campsite listening to Shredder bust out some lovely tunes on his mandolin. Its a chilly night, we will all be in our beds by hiker midnight (9:00 pm).

Shredder hiking down into the Whitewater Preserve

Random Snake

Day 13: PCT miles 240 to 268

This was my most distance traveled in a day at 28 miles, for some reason my feet didn't get very sore. I saw my first bear of the trip (in a cage) and my first Joshua Tree of the trip as well. A day of firsts.

Bear in cage

The morning started out cold and windy. It is more challenging to get ready when it is cold, my strategy so far has been to do as much as I can from my sleeping bag. So I make my morning coconut latte, eat breakfast and pack as much as I can before getting up. Then it is a mad dash to pack the rest of my things. Last to get packed are my clothes, I wait until the last minute to put on my cold and crusty hiking shirt and shorts. 

Mornings are just not the same without a coconut latte

But after I dropped down a couple thousand feet the temperature warmed up, there was a slight breeze and the hiking was downhill, an excellent combination. I passed through a lovely valley with lots of Ponderosa pines, it reminded me of the interior of British Columbia. I passed a highway late in the day and was tempted to hitch into Big Bear city early but resisted. Tomorrow I will hike the 7 miles to Van Dusen road where trail angel Papa Smurf is going to pick me up and take me into Big Bear. Excited to once again take a shower, do laundry and eat as much as I can.

San Gorgonio