23.8 miles hiked
‘Round 1am some night hiker comes into my campsite. They aren’t crazy loud, but take for.ev.er. to set up, shining their laser beam light everywhere. Eventually I go back to sleep.
I get up around 5:30 and hit the trail maybe 6:15. There is one more uphill to do before All The Downhill, dropping from my current elevation of 8500 feet to around a thousand or so at Interstate 10. I am very slow going up the uphill but not so long after I start the descent. Burger miles today for sure, if I can make up some of the time I lost by camping early I am definitely trying to hitch to In-and-Out in Cabazon.
I plug in Beyonce and slowly my body warms up and I start gaining momentum. I seem to be a touch stiff in the mornings this trail, there’s this thing happening with my right hip and occasionally my IT band but it seems to go away once things heat up. A touch of arthritis? Jeebus, I’m 35. I sit down after a few miles to get some food in me, this morning I was a bit nauseous and I didn’t have anything. It’s something that happens to me sometimes when I get up earlier than usual. Charlie passes me, doesn’t say anything- does he not recognize me? That happened once yesterday. Anyway he goes plugging on ahead with the two other guys he’s talking with, yay, I’m left alone. Well, time to start the grind. Soon enough I come out from the forested area into the more exposed north side of the mountain. It’s getting hot! But I’m also making good time, I just want to get to the water fountain which is the next water source. I get to a fork in the path, there’s a water source I didn’t know about? There’s some guys hanging out here, I say I don’t need water. 3 L for 25 miles, no problem. Except it’s getting even more and more exposed, not really much shade at all. Oh well! Time to mash. I put on Jamiroquai’s newish album on repeat. This seems like the way to go to crush miles, I need to get more funk on my mp3 player.
I hike with two other hikers for a few minutes. They tell me only 8 miles to go! I drink some more water, maybe only like 750mL left? This seems fine for me but after I pass them (they are getting pretty heated up) and another hiker in the shade I am thinking mayyyybe I shoulda gotten more water. Well, not much to do about it now. I’m feeling pretty good if aware that the temperature is going up. Miles click by, I take hourly breaks: 5 miles left, 2.5. The one hiker I passed earlier comes by, we chat for a bit. He also has an umbrella and I bet that’s why we are some of the faster ones out here today. Mine is bigger which is cool because I can attach it to my pack, but I am also dealing with wind gusts increasingly that are collapsing it.
Finally! The water source. It’s an old school faucet that propels the water out in an arc. WTF, ok…. It’s a little tricky to catch the water in my bottles on account of the wind that’s blowing it around and also the mass of bees there. I camel up, drinking almost 2L before getting 2 more for the 4 miles to the intersection. It’s 2:30ish, I am definitely trying to hitch, I think this slog deserves it. 18 miles with no more than 5 minute breaks in crazy exposed sun and heat!
I make my way down the trail, which for some reason is an actual paved road for a mile or so. At the last road crossing before it becomes trail again two cars stop. “Do you need anything?” I am not really sure where the best place to get that hitch on I-10 is, but most accounts say it’s hard. “Um, I’m actually trying to get to the shopping center by the casino with the In-and-Out?” “Oh sure, my friend in the second car is going right by there. We’re just going to look at my cabin for 10 minutes, hop on in.” What magic is this? Didn’t even have to thumb it. We go to her cabin where I learn her name is Ann. I *think* her friend’s name is Brian? Sorry dude. You guys need trail names, I can’t remember anything else. Ann is a journalist with interest in the local area and Brian is a local historian. Sweet! Ann tells me a little about the neighborhood, Snow Creek, which only has about 30-40 homes. Similar to Julian, a lot of them are second homes. Also a lot of artistic types. They tell me about a house called the D’Angelo House that revolves around a central axis: when residents want a different view, they just turn the house. Also I see another one they call the gingerbread house, it’s a sort of fairy tale look and seems to be made of locally found objects.
We make it over to In-and-Out and it’s time for what you’ve all been waiting for:
My order, just FYI:
2 double hamburgers, mustard fried, protein style, no sauce, with grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles
1 order fries
1 soft drink (80% coke 20% Dr Pepper)
1 vanilla milkshake
I may pay for this later, especially with the dairy, but admittedly I down this like a boss. There are no outlets at In-and-Out, so I head across the street and hang at Starbucks, while charging and writing a blog post. I detox a few times. They’re good ones, formed, likely due to the massive food I’ve been eating immediately followed by coffee, so I’m not worried. But my body is definitely confused right now, 11 days in and I still haven’t pooped on trail. So strange. Well, I guess it’s like a low carb diet cheat day. Basically: town days are like cheat days on that diet. Haha.
After a couple hours I’m finally motivated to try to hitch. I go outside and immediately a cop car pulls up, just sits there. I wuss out and uber a ride back to the trail. Well, I still have some credits, it could be worse.
The driver takes forever to show up, the cop is definitely eyeing me from the car but says nothing. Whatever, I’ve as much right as anyone to be there. Finally the driver arrives, he went to two other Starbucks. He’s annoyed and I’m also annoyed because I made sure the street address was correct. The good thing is that he knows where to drop people off for the trail, it’s on the other side of the highway though. Guess I’m skipping like 2 miles of trail, sue me.
I get dropped off .1 mile north of I-10. I’m pretty sure there’s trail magic, but I just went to town, I’ll leave it for someone who doesn’t get there. I see a guy camped out in the wash next to the trail, which is on the edge of the community. “Did you get a ride with Dennis?” he asks. I tell him about my rides, he says that Dennis aka Hillbilly gave a bunch of people rides back to town and to his place. Not really any camping options on the map, a valid concern. But Hillbilly has been reported to pick up passengers whilst under the influence, so, Uber? “He’s been telling everyone ALL the water sources from here to Big Bear have norovirus.” “That doesn’t even make any sense,” I say. I consider for a moment staying and pitching there but it’s still really close to the freeway and maybe it’s time to give night hiking a go.
I hike a bit more until I have to pull out my light. I have this Fenix flashlight now that clips onto my hat, it’s awesome. I see things! A couple scorpions. Will they kill me? Hopefully not. Also a crazy colored snake, bright yellow and black. It’s a baby, so probably less aggressive but maybe more concentrated venom, if it is venomous in the first place. I get to Mesa Wind Farm, it’s all closed up, only one tent there. Not much room, I push on, slowly.
Finally I’m over it, I’ll get up early and do more in the morning. I find a little open patch right next to the trail, under a tree, and set up a cowboy camp. Hopefully no critters get me when I’m asleep! I zip my sleeping bag up just in case even though it’s barely cooled down at all. Alarm is set for 5am yowsers.