Mile 285 Little Bear Trail Camp to Mile 363, Wrightwood
Well, I didn't do a very good job at journaling this week! Probably because I was too busy flying up/across the trail instead! ;) Hiked at least 20 miles almost every day, including a full marathon's worth on Thursday.
Hiked pretty much the whole week with Ben (Rocky), Thyra (T-Rex), Angela (ChikChaw), Carrot, and Sour Cream (Dominic) - I hope our schedules continue to sync up, because I really enjoy hiking with them. On Tuesday, we were the first ones awake and out of camp - it was like a scene out of the twilight zone. The morning was easy and we wound up at the beginning of Deep Creek around mile 296, a great shaded spot for eating and playing in the river. As with all great spots on this trail, I never wanted to leave. However, we all pushed on and soon hit mile 300 - yay! As of yet, it's the least miserable I've been at a hundred mile marker - here's hoping this trend continues!
Pushed on to mile 308, where the Deep Creek hot springs are. Didn't expect much due to the comments in the guide book, but boy were we all surprised upon arrival! This place was so amazing! Huge, hot, hot springs! I had carried a bottle of wine in one of my liter bottles from Big Bear, and this provided the perfect opportunity to crack it open and share with the group. It was great to talk to others about the trail - the realities of highs, lows, fears, insecurities, motivations, etc. All of us agreed it was one of the best nights on the trail yet.
After the awesome evening at the hot springs, didn't bother setting an alarm, which proved to be a big mistake! Didn't get hiking til 9, and it was HOT right off the bat. Only hiked about 6 miles before I had to sit down and break for the day at the Mojave River Ford, and those 6 miles were rough. Ben & co. were just finishing lunch when we arrived, so we got to say hi but then immediately jumped into the river and spent the rest of the afternoon there. It was hot even in the shade, so I knew better at this point than to try and hike. Soon enough, Ingrid, Tracy, Vertigo, and Lola showed up and we all wound up literally sitting in the middle of the river with our sunbrellas protecting us from the heat. Quite the scene.
Even at 5, when we started hiking again, it was still hot. We'd realized that we needed to cover 20+ miles/day until Wrightwood in order to get our bounce box and send it back out again by the time the post office closed on Friday afternoon, so some night hiking was in order after our measly 6 miles that morning. But I was so tired we only made it to mile 325 before I had to conk out, right next to the lake literally on the trail. Figured nobody would be coming by before we were awake and hiking again. Got up at 4 the following morning in order to hustle to the famed McDonald's at the I-15 Cajon Pass crossing at mile 342 - known especially for turning vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, ethically minded, you-name-it eaters into craven beasts lusting after a Big Mac. (It's the only thing to think about for 80+ miles...and becomes something of a holy grail.) Gorged at McDonald's - I enjoyed a double quarter pounder, fries, a soda, a few mcchicken nuggets, and a soft serve! I won't even get started on the amount of food others consumed - Dr. Slosh's meal made mine look like a kids meal.
We departed the McD's and pushed on to Wrightwood in the afternoon. The hiking after lunch was pretty awesome. Great views, awesome rocks and critters, and crossed right under (and then over) some train tracks - got up close and personal with freight trains going through the area...very surreal after all the wilderness of the last few weeks. Around mile 347, the trail crosses the San Andreas fault line, which is pretty wild - totally different geologic areas on each side, with a valley separating them. I said a little prayer for no earthquake while I walked across the fault line - I'm sure this is impossible, but I had some paranoia that the fault line would open up and swallow me whole (maybe I'm just getting a little weird now?) After crossing the fault, the trail enters the San Gabriel Mountains, my old stomping grounds! Made it a few miles up the trail (and a few thousand feet) before calling it quits for the night at mile 350 - officially halfway done with desert hiking! Can't wait for mile 700 at Kennedy Meadows, where we'll officially enter the Sierra Nevada.
Another 4am wakeup ensure we'd make it the 17 miles into Wrightwood before the post office closed. So much uphill - almost a vertical mile! But the hiking was beautiful and I felt a little at home hiking there after all these years. Took the Acorn Trail down to the town and found a room at the Pines - they even did our laundry for us! After a few weeks apart, we bumped into Atlas for the first time as well - he seems to be doing well and it was fun to catch up. Ran around quickly to attend to chores, then enjoyed a beer and TV before going out for pizza and open mic night at the local Yodeler. And of course, another beer! I <3 towns...