Mile 218.6, Whitewater Preserve to Side of the Mountain at Mile 236.5
As much as I hated to leave the Whitewater Preserve, I didn't have much of an alternative. Boo! Even with a relatively early, we were still almost the last ones out of camp. The first 8 miles were fairly pleasant, and we hiked up the mountain with 3 Cats, a new friend from Maine. He's a neat guy who's lived all over the place and works in land preservation. It was SO hot, so my "sun-brella" made it's first dorky appearance in the heat. It definitely kept me cool. (Side note: so many dorky hiker clothes and accessories actually do prove to be quite useful!) At mile 226, we hit Mission Creek - another oasis in the desert! There was shade and a bubbling creek to soak our feet in before eating a leisurely lunch.
After hitting Mission Creek, the trail heads up a long canyon along Mission Creek to Big Bear. The guide book warned that this section is particularly tough, but it didn't seem too bad to us, which was a nice surprise. Throughout the afternoon, a few thunderstorms blew through dropping quite a bit of rain to cool us off, as well as a decent amount of hail - sunbrellas used as umbrellas ftw!
Pushed on past a campsite that looked pretty welcoming at mile 235, but the trail started going straight up. It was getting late and another storm started raining on us again. Found a great spot right under an oak tree off the side of the trail to camp at and cozied in for the night. The goal was to make it to mile 240, but I just couldn't keep hiking. But, there's less than 30 miles to Big Bear now-so close I can taste it! I already feel the need for some rest and time off for the old feet. After chores, I think we'll probably need to wind up taking a full day zero, though that wasn't in the initial plans. We met someone who hiked last year who remarked that hiking the PCT is as much about what you do when you're NOT hiking as what you do when you are hiking, and I'm inclined to agree - the time off the feet for repair is important! As for now, I'm generally feeling a little better both physically and mentally. Improvements are slow, but improvements nonetheless!