19.6 miles hiked
Ok, well. Back in the desert, or finally hitting the real desert? There’s discontent in the air, the knowledge of being in a forbidding place. I get up at 4, I have to make miles before I’m toast. 13 to a cache where I’m hoping there’s both water and shade. Another 3 up a big hill where for sure there are good siesta spots.
It’s foggy and mysterious and foreboding when I start. The scenery changes a little as I ascend, there’s some pinion trees and birds waking up as the sun rises. Each day of light is a ticking time bomb, I’ve gotta get to a siesta spot. It’s pretty windy and cold once again, but I know it won’t last. I am so thankful for getting up early to avoid the worst of it.
I pass 2 couples, one getting packed, and another who passes me for about 3 minutes before I pass them maybe taking a pee break?
Well, I get to Bird Spring pass. I’m trying to see the water. I don’t see that at first, what I do see is a guy getting out of an SUV. Is it too much to hope for???? Aaaaagghh Epic Trail Magic from Brewhiker!!!!!
A lot of people are here, Skip, Styles etc but just getting ready to do the climb. It’s 9:30 which is borderline. What should I do. Brewhiker gives me a beer. Well. Nothing like climbing up a hill in 100+ heat after drinking a dehydrating beverage. I stay and chew the fat awhile.
One couple soon comes, it’s Sphagnum PI (best trail name ever!!!) and Drippy. We talk about the trees we’ve been seeing, I mention I’m pretty sure they are pinions.
“Pinions!” Sphagnum exclaims. “The mystery conifer!” We get into a discussion of white vs yellow pines which makes me super happy. Bartender arrives and hangs for a little but then goes off for siesta, so the four of us bust out UV umbrellas and sit in the dirt. What time is it. Almost 11. Nope, not hiking for a while. We talk about random stuff and I am super happy. Really missing the social aspect at times.
Sphagnum knows a lot about birds, I ask her if she can help me ID some I came across that morning.
“This bird sounds like the Joker on nitrous” I say.
“It’s a canyon jay.”
“Another bird has like, either a long break walking with its head up, or a unicorn horn thing?”
“Probably a mountain quail.”
Later Brewhiker brews us (he is not limited to the brewing of beer apparently) some custom pct coffee made by the guy in Idyllwild. So good! I have some more before finally leaving at 7 something (haha) to climb, and boy, is it the ticket.
Really loving Brewhiker’s vibe, just what he’s doing. #vanlife. I also realize on climb I have enough $ maybe for one? Fantasizing about fall trail magic this is a perfect spot for it.
Well, the caffeine and cool shade helps me up the hill, 3 miles in a little over an hour which is super for me! Right at the top I see something leap over some rocks to the left. I think it’s a bobcat? It looks about 3 feet long, not really mottled, a golden brown color. I didn’t notice a long tail tho. Later I look on Wikipedia and it REALLY looks like I saw a mountain lion, but would I have really? It definitely saw me and skittered off, it’s rare to see one, hey? Still, super awesome!
I go 7 miles before cowboy camping. It’s super dark. Still have the encounter on my mind, so when Drippy and PI cone by I convince them to crash there also under the stars.