Mile reached: 229.0 (+23.3 + 1 bonus)
High: It was not yesterday
Low: I missed out on Klondike bars at the wind farm
Lowest point reached on trail: 1337′ (only Columbia Gorge drops below this)
I woke up at 4 only hitting snooze once and got going. The trail crosses the desert floor separating peninsular and transverse ranges. With temperatures supposed to reach 100 degrees in Palm Springs this was definitely something I wanted to do in the dark. The moon nicely illuminated the trail and I quickly reached I-10!
The overpass was rather dank, but there was a cooler full of beer and soda! There were a few people camped out. Amusingly, I would learn later in the day that some of the thru-hikers thought a guy named “Wise Paul” was a vagrant and were uneasy about sleeping there. Anyway, I continued moving and wanted to make the most of the waning night.
From the interstate the trail meanders east around the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. In a few miles I passed a wind farm that reportedly is very welcoming to hikers. But, I didn’t want to lose time as it was already starting to heat up quickly with the sun out. It turned out that they had Klondike bars and soda. Bummer.
The big decision of the day was around where to stop. There is a preserve just 0.5 mi off trail that I had heard was nice, or I could continue to the largest river crossing in the Southern California section of the trail. Several people choose to head on to the river, and they made a terrible mistake. They spent most the day hiding behind rocks trying to stay out of the sun. The preserve was awesome, probably the best attraction on the trail thus far.
There are huge trees providing great shade. They have water and air conditioning and will even take your trash! There is also a wading pool that most of us spent the morning in. We were washing clothes and socks in the pool, but a family with a five year old girl joined us in the pool. She even offered to feed us Oreos, because we spent so much time talking about food. She would also promptly inform every newly arrived hiker just how cold the water was. So, when she asked if we would give her a trail name, I suggested “Elsa”. She was very pleased with that.
It was fun getting to know this bubble of thru-hikers. They probably have the best dynamic of any group I’ve seen. A few of them I knew by reputation, so it was entertaining to meet them in the flesh. “Rancher” in particular was notorious for chasing a heard of cattle down the trail outside Warner Springs directly into some hikers’ camp. The cows proceeded to stop around and rub themselves against the tents. He has also taken on the challenge of breaking the record for the number of miles covered without “taking a poo in the woods” (outhouses are acceptable).
I took off in the late afternoon and did a bit of night hiking. I ran into rattlesnakes but didn’t notice them. Rather, a couple people behind me saw them. We’ve figured that each of us is probably passing 10-15 rattlesnakes a day but only notice the ones that get agitated. I eventually found a spot alongside a river where I was lulled to sleep by the croaking of frogs.