Miles: 17.39
Camping: PCT mile 235.4
Hikers seen on trail: 1

Today started in the beautiful Whitewater Preserve, owls hooting in the trees above, the air warm, water trickling. It is rare to camp near enough to water to hear its soothing sound. It was so peaceful.

I had a dream about the bowling alley (where I worked for 4 years before this), today being the first day it is closed for good. It was getting gutted out in my dream, and somehow I was trying to hang on to it. I’ve known this day was coming, and it is in fact the reason I am able to be here now. It is still hard to imagine it being closed forever, that it will be a hardware store when I return. It’s no easier to grasp today than it was in February when I found out.

This started my day out a little emotionally, and I needed some time to process and reminisce. I popped in my headphones and listened to music as a few tears escaped my eyes. This lasted for about the first 5 miles as I followed a flowing creek that had been dry the day before. When hunger took over, I stopped to sit on a rock and eat leftover pizza, looking across the gorge at Mt. Gorgonio, the highest point in Southern California.

Blisster caught up with me here, and then we climbed up a bit to follow a ridge for a mile or so with amazing panoramic view of Southern California’s 2 highest peaks (sadly I can’t add panorama photos to my blog from my phone). It was beautiful, and fun to walk the narrow crest of a smaller mountain.

Soon we found ourselves in a valley following the Mission Creek. There were lots of tall trees near the water; quaking aspen, a variety of what I think is sweet gum, willows and live oak to name a few. Water was abundant today, but with the 90° temperature, I found myself dehydrated for the first time since I left the border. We stopped after about 10 miles to nap and eat lunch by the creek through the hotter hours of the day. I ended up taking 2 solid naps, and had an interesting hiker lunch of flattened bananas with cinnamon raisin peanut butter and cheddar bunnies (like goldfish but less salty-I prefer the salt I realize), also half a bag of peanut M&M’s. I added electrolytes to a liter of water and rehydrated myself before my second nap (there isn’t much to do with 2.5 hours of not hiking in the middle of the day). There was a bird nearby making R2-D2 noises, and the creek flowing made for nice ambient sleep noise. When I got up to pee I heard something in the leaves near me and looked over to see a 4 foot snake hurrying away from me. It had no rattle, but it rattled me a bit, so I decided to get hiking again.

We moved along at our own paces after that, hopping the creek with the trail. At one point I came across an iguana who happily posed while I took a photo, and proceeded to do push-ups every now and again. He was beautiful! By far my favorite creature I’ve met in the desert so far.

The walk after that began to get hot and tiresome. I was dehydrated again, and needed to eat. There was little shade, and we had lost the creek by this point (for 5 more miles). I sparingly sipped what water I had left, but the dehydration combined with my growing hunger were causing me to grow increasingly tired. I saw there might be a seasonal stream about 3 miles sooner, but it was a gamble. I prayed that it would be there, and if it was, I vowed to camp there instead of pushing on. I had noodles soaking in a plastic container, so I could be ready to make pasta at first opportunity.

At last, I came to the point of the seasonal stream and found it still had water! It was a trickle, but there was enough to collect and it was clear. I quickly accepted defeat in not finishing out a 20 mile day, knowing my body needed hydration and food more than anything. The soaking of noodles wasn’t the best idea in execution, as they were a gluey mess at this point. I shrugged it off in true hiker hunger fashion and added cheese mix, onions, spinach and peppers. It was a delicious gooey soup.

Now it is 7 pm and I am going to call it an early night. The plan is to get up early and make up some miles before it gets hot…and to stay well fed and hydrated. It looks like our elevation should be easy tomorrow, so with a steady pace and a better food/water plan, we should get through 20+ miles tomorrow.

Incidentally, the heat rash is finally healing. I’ve been using coconut oil, which works and smells good. It’s starting to get itchy which I hope is a trustworthy sign of healing…at least the stinging is gone and it looks less red. Thanks for suggestions, who knows when it might return (hopefully never). XOXO

true hiker lunch