Miles: 20
Camping: Ziggy and The Bears PCT mile 210.8
Hikers seen on trail: 12

Today started in the first light of morning, hikers stuffing things in sacks, in their mouths, groggily brushing teeth between boulders, the desert looming in the distance. We all had one mission in mind; to make it to Ziggy and The Bear’s house 20 miles down the trail. I do mean down, the whole day is elevation loss, bringing us from 8000 ft to 1100 ft (considering we were at 10,834 ft just yesterday, it’s a true knee buster).

The trail started in the cool forest, pine needle carpeting and incense in one. I’m feeling so happy again, and I like hiking with Blisster. We don’t generally hike and talk. We walk our own walk and meet up from time to time, what Duckets referred to as “The Slinky Effect.” It’s the best way to hike with others, in my opinion.

Soon, the trees became sparse and hardy desert plants started making a return to the landscape. The air grew hotter and dryer, the view more Mars like. Mt. San Jacinto loomed above, reminding us of the cool and beautiful day among trees and granite just yesterday. We were so high up there! On top of the world! At least, the second highest point in Southern California.

We found Marcella and Neon lounging in the shade, and we decided it was time to take a break. I pulled out my info sheet on the skin irritant, Poodle-dog Bush, and we all studied it to be sure we could avoid touching it if we found it in our path. Marcella is from Washington state, and I immediately like her. Neon is complaining about his feet, so he popped some Vitamin I and after laying with his feet propped on a boulder, he flew ahead.

We made our way through fields of buttercups, flowering cacti, yucca and many other wild flowers and bushes as the heat of the day increased. The mile marker for 200 came and went, feeling a little less climactic than 100 was…we have bigger miles to walk now.

I have been battling a hell of a case of heat rash on my thighs lately, and today it was almost unbearable (picture below). It isn’t chafe, as my thighs don’t touch there, but it burns like stinging nettles, a constant burning. I coated it with coconut oil, which was an improvement, but I’m near tears in pain despite my otherwise rosy attitude today. Any advice readers? Anything? I need help on this one!

Despite the pain, I truly enjoy the desert. The smell of sage, sometimes amber, sometimes chamomile; I often want to wrap myself in it and lay down in the sand and buttercups. Lizards dart about like ninjas, so fast, so stealth. There are black and green one’s that look like an oil slick that run to the tops of rocks and do push-ups. They are my favorite so far.

A hiker named Landfill (he loves to eat) not 20 minutes behind us had an encounter with a giant pissed off rattlesnake. He took a video: here. It is amazing, and his commentary hilarious! I was only minutes ahead of him, so must have walked right by it.

After the long and hot descent, we were all tapped dry on water. Nine of us ended up at the water source, 20 miles from the previous one, hot and exhausted. The water source was a water fountain that shot out a stream of water that was promptly batted around by the wind. It was comical and frustrating to try and get a liter out of it. After that, it was 5 miles to the trail angel house of Ziggy and The Bear, and we all mustered up the strength to go on; foot baths calling to us across the desert floor.

Those miles were very difficult. We walked in soft sand against strong winds, struggling with every step to make headway in distance. My shoulders started to ache as I leaned forward into the wind, the weight of my pack shifting. Just when I wanted to dissolve into the blowing sand we made it to an underpass with respite from the heavy gusts…and there we found trail magic! A cooler of soda, a cooler of beer, and some trail bars taboot. I drank my first soda in years (a Canada Dry gingerale) and the bubbles gave me very satisfying belches! It was a fun break that Blister and I enjoyed with Babooshka (the guy who sang karaoke in Idyllwyld) and his dad LJ (who’s pending trail name is Pabooshka, and had helped me collect water back on day 2).

Only 1.5 miles from there went smoothly as we approached the wondeful home of Ziggy and The Bear just as they were serving ice cream! So much sugar in one day, but I needed the calories. Several hikers were already here looking rested, and we settled right in, taking epsom salt foot baths (a requirement here!) and eating ice cream from giant bowls.

The sleeping arrangements are to throw your mat down on the carpeted patio under giant awnings…hikers lying head to toe, all fiddling with phones in the dark, catching up with life outside the trail. It’s a lovely life, a lovely house, a lovely family.

I’m happy to be a part of it.

leg rash
LJ and Babushka
Blisster and I