Last night was one of very few nights out here that I haven’t had to fight wind or rain and could just enjoy my time in my campsite. That transferred to this morning as well, as I was able to leisurely pack up and get water from Mission Creek. It was chilly but enjoyable, except for putting on my still-wet socks and shoes. I took some Ibuprofen for my still-aching knee and was on my way.
I continued the navigational challenge of poorly marked river crossings for most of the morning, although as I got farther and farther upstream, the creek narrowed significantly, making many of the crossings easier than those I encountered yesterday.
The rock formations surrounding the creek became quite beautiful, and despite my frustration with constantly having to reorient myself and find the trail, I was able to take in some of the beauty of the rock and recognize the power of water. Water carved all of this rock, moved these boulders into my way, ground this sand that I have been trudging through. While I certainly don’t appreciate that it has also washed away my trail, I respect it.
The more elevation I gained, the less motivation I had today. I put on a podcast and pushed through. The trail continued to climb and eventually left Mission Creek and left San Bernadino National Forest to climb up into San Gorgonio Wilderness. Of the section of Wilderness that I walked through today, all was burned. The wind was demoralizing with nothing to slow it down, pushing me backwards or even knocking me into the side of the ridge I was traversing. I got a great view for lunch but only ate half of it since the wind whipped so ferociously that I couldn’t even eat through my chattering teeth.
By now my Ibuprofen had worn off so I took more but it never really kicked in. Every step hurt more than the last and I was moving very slowly. The trail continued to climb. The wind continued to blow violently. I haven’t had cell signal since before the wind farm so I could call home for support. I finally got to a campground 10 miles from where I started this morning. The wind pulled every bit of warmth from me as I filtered water- potentially the last water source for 16 miles. I put on every layer I had and continued hiking. Three hikers I didn’t know said there was a cabin in 6 miles. I saw Kingpin and Grills as I was getting back on trail and they said they were heading to the cabin too. I could do 6 more miles, right?
I trudged. I followed the trail up more switchbacks as the wind brought in thick clouds right at our elevation (8118 feet) and hail began to swirl around me. In the pine burn area, the clouds created a spooky atmosphere, hikers appearing and disappearing in the skeletal forest. I got to another rise and my knee buckled. I caught myself with my trekking poles, but there was no way I could go another 4.8 miles to the cabin.
I slowly limped back down the rise back into the spooky forest and found a flat spot to pitch my tent. I made sure to stay far from the skeletal, blackened trees and pitched in a small grove of still-living pines, though their high branches do nothing to block the wind. I am now sitting here in my tent, cold but safe, listening to the wind and hail, aching and feeling like a complete failure as a thru-hiker. This is my lowest mileage day on trail and I feel like I was barely able to push through the few that I did. I’m not even 10% there yet- how will I ever get to Canada with no motivation and a knee that refuses to cooperate?
I really do enjoy the solitude and the ability to make all my own decisions and the peace and quiet, but I do wish that I was able to find someone who hiked at my pace, or at least that I didn’t feel as though I was slowing them down. Having someone else to hike with might help motivate me. Maybe I will be able to meet up with Leapfrog or maybe Shannon, Lucas and Felicia again. I hope to get into Big Bear City and take a day off to resupply and recover a bit. I just hope I can make it there and be motivated to get moving again.
Trail magic: 0
Hiked with: no one
Camped with: no one