Mile reached: 56.1 (+14.1)
High: Beautiful vistas on a bluebird day
Low: So so windy (50 mph gusts)
People in campsite: 5
Familiar faces from day 1: 3
Planning on doing a shorter day, we got off to a lazy start. We slept in until around 8. While wandering around the campground doing various chores, someone spotted me as a thru-hiker (apparently we are pretty easy to pick out). Two trail angels, “Whimsy” and “Trash Panda”, had set up camp across from us and were making breakfast for any interested thru-hikers. We had orange juice, blueberry pancakes, honey ham, whiskey etc. We of course followed breakfast with an espresso at the local diner and took the detour back to the trail through the tiny town of Mt Laguna.
“Whimsy had warned us that the next section of the trail was the windiest she had encountered, and we quickly discovered what she meant as we left the cover of the trees. Monument ridge drops from the Laguna plateau 3000 feet to the desert floor below. The wind unrelentingly rips across the ridge even making it difficult to walk at times. The brutality of the wind was compensated for with the stunning vistas of the desert peaks to east. Both Toro Peak and even San Jacinto beyond it could be seen to the north.
Outside of dealing with the wind, the going was easy. We enjoyed a few breaks at the various vistas points and picnic area that dot the sunrise highway. When it finally came time to set up camp for the night we realized that we might not be able to get out of the wind. We reached one of the suggested campsites, but it was quite exposed. We debated going further hoping to find something better but opted not to and attempted to hide behind a big rock. Fortunately, someone across the draw saw us and later came over to invite us to a better location. There I was able to throw my bag down in a dry creek and get almost completely out of the wind! Even then everyone called it and early night and hoped that the clouds now flowing over the ridge would not be bringing rain.