Cowboy camping last night wasn’t so terrible. Watching the bats swoop over us as the stars twinkled into view was lovely, and although the stars weren’t spectacular (still too close to the city), it wasn’t windy and didn’t rain so we were satisfied.
We were on trail by 7:15, kind of expecting today to be somewhat easy since we only needed to do around 15 miles. We did not, however, take into account that there was no water available all day or that we would have a huge net gain in elevation throughout the day.
We did the first few miles fairly easily but soon the sun raged in the sky, putting a damper on our spirits and energy level. We did have a strange realization sometime after passing 350 miles that the desert is now more than halfway done. We are now counting down to the next section: the still incredibly snowy Sierras!
The trail followed a narrow ridge with little shade and very few flat spots to rest. PITA realized that she was low on water just as we left camp this morning, and Gryllz noticed he was also nearly out of water by our second morning snack break. We still had 9 miles of incline in the heat of the day before we could get more water.
It is amazing how focused you can become when water is scarce. I still had a sufficient amount for myself as long as I went slow and didn’t overheat, though I was nervous for my friends and shared along the way. I purposely fell behind to make sure I didn’t run out. Hard candies like Jolly Ranchers helped us combat the cottonmouth that comes from huffing and puffing and we took lots of breaks.
The views were wonderful the whole climb, though we didn’t stop to enjoy them as much as we should have. We could see Mt San Jacinto way off in the distance, and Mt Baldy, so far away a few days ago, was right next to us. I looked at Gryllz at one point and made a comment about how amazing it was to see how far we’ve hiked, and he responded in a singsong voice, “It’ll be even more amazing with WA-TER!”
Eventually the trail leveled out a bit and we enjoyed a soft, quiet, pine-covered path. We relaxed for a few minutes, knowing we were close to our destination. We were now passing tiny patches of snow at this high elevation and sitting still for too long was more uncomfortable than hiking. We pushed on and I finished my water, the last between the three of us.
The final push was significantly steeper than what we had seen most of the day and we ended up missing the side trail to the spring and having to backtrack. We found the side trail and headed down the steep, rocky path to find a pipe sticking sideways out of a hill with a cool, clear trickle or water flowing from it.
We celebrated. We filled our water bottles and moved to a grassy spot nearby to make and eat our dinner. At this point, our food bags are pretty light since we are coming into town tomorrow and the hiker hunger has really set in. I think I could eat any amount of anything at this point.
Soon after dinner, Gryllz and PITA decided to cowboy camp again but I was already freezing. At 7200 feet, the temperature drops quickly when the sun sets. I set up my tent on the least lumpy spot I could find and bundled up inside. At some point today I got tree sap on my hiking shirt and shorts, and now it is on my pack and pretty much everywhere, so I had to change clothes and be careful not to get it on my sleeping bag. We were all quiet and content with our spot and then another group came down and set up their tents as well. Not quite as peaceful but not bad. Still a lovely view with town to look forward to tomorrow!
Trail magic: 0
Hiked with: Gryllz, PITA
Camped with: Gryllz, PITA, Germans I don’t know. Dad Jokes was here but camped up the hill instead.