Miles: 115 to 131
In the desert you have two best friends. Water and wind. Water is infrequent and often cached in barrels so coming upon a natural creek is real treat. Yesterday we treated ourselves to a long foot bath in one of such creeks and if felt amazing.
Breeze, though not as essential as water, can make a huge difference in the quality of your hike. Usually you start hiking early and the morning is cold but as soon as the sun touches you, you go from shivering to sweating in an instant. Seriously. From cold to hot, just like that. There’s nothing in between. Unless there is a breeze. Breeze keeps you refreshed, breeze keeps you from sweating to much, breeze keeps sunscreen from melting to your eyes, breeze significantly prolongs your hiking day.
Today the breeze was intermittent. I was thankful for every second of it. It was a hot day. One of the hottest we experienced so far and even though we only planned 12 miles to a place called Mike’s, and we managed the first 5 miles in the two hours before sun got on us, once it did our pace slowed considerably and we took frequent breaks in the shade of beautiful red rocks that adorned the scenery.
The scenery was mountainous today, dry slopes of shrubs and rock. Once in a while we had a view into the valleys around us, and we could see the plains of Warner Springs we came from. They already seemed so far away.
Strolling to Mike’s at 12:15 p.m. we found three more hikers chilling here already in a shade of an outdoor patio.
Mike purchased little bit of land with a house on it near the trail after his own PCT hike with the idea to create respite was future hikers at this dry stretch. He has volunteers running the place in his absence and today one of them prepared fantastic pancakes and brought bananas for us. Pancakes and bananas in the middle of desert, how awesome is that.
The 1.9 mile uphill stretch that awaited us first was much more pleasurable in the shade. I really enjoyed it. The air was cool and with the sun down enough the light was soft and pleasant letting the colorful flowers around the trail shine. There were plenty. Lupines and paintbrushes, and other varieties we did not recognize. We found some wild gooseberries but they were not ripe yet.
The trail became more challenging on the descend, mostly because large amount of small sharp rocks we had to navigate around. I was probably little too cautious about where I would step but being careful was paying off because my foot did not hurt at all and I didn’t even have to take vitamin I in the afternoon.
We settled on a site at mile 131 with a view into the valley where we are going to descend tomorrow. It’s going to be another relatively hard day. The first part will be all downhill but at mile 6 we will start climbing a 3,000 foot hill which normally would not be such an issue but I have a feeling in the heat it will be a killer.
Wish us luck.