Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Heat and dust with chilly nights

Day 8: I got rid of my solar panel today due to the ratio of weight vs effectiveness. It wasn't charging my phone much at all anymore and it was quite heavy, so it had to go. Starting out from Warner Springs it was very windy and hot as Hades with temps in the upper 90's-100 degrees F.

 Hiked 17.7 miles with Kimchee Snotrag, Shortrib and C.P to Magic Mike's Skyranch , a hiker haven up in the mountains. 

It's an interesting, trippy spot and we felt very welcome by Strange Bird, Crash Test and Nina who had dinner prepared for any hikers who might show up.

 I slept in the hiker dorm RV that night whilst the wind blew ferociously and made all the contraptions dangling on the side of the vehicle clang and bang all night long. 

Again, the air temperature dropped to super cold as soon as the sun went down and the big full moon rose from behind the mountains, illuminating the cloudless sky. 

Magic Mike rocks! 

Gratitude: 1) Hiking all day with trail buddies; 2) Getting good mileage done; 3) My wonderful kids, Ian and Sian; 4) My amazing Mom, so cute sending me encouraging messages; 5) Magic Mikes Skyranch 

Day 9:
A very tough 25 mile stretch alone. Bleak, hot and may I say horrible! I shuffled through it like the Walking Dead.

 I developed shin splints on my left leg, the balls of my feet felt mangled and I was carrying 4 liters of water all the time (which is heavy) whenever I could refill, for fear of running out. I had started out early with Ultra J, Scott and Canadians Leslie and Keith but they were going faster so went on ahead. My goal was to get through this long, difficult stretch to Highway 74 by nightfall. I wanted to sleep in a bed in Idyllwild! The switchbacks, ascents and descents went on forever and the temperature was in the 100's. I finally got to use my heavy water filter I had been complaining about carrying when my only source of water was some manky brown fluid in an underground cement well full of bugs and creatures. The filter gave me clean, lovely tasting water.
Eventually after a long Zombie shuffle, nearing sundown, I arrived at Hwy 74 and a wonderful trail angel, by the name of Gail picked me up and drove me to Idyllwild Inn. Thank you Gail! Yay, a beautiful, soft, comfy, blissful night ensued.
Things I am grateful for: 1) My heavy water filter; 2) The manky water in the cement well; 3) Being able to shuffle through 25 tough miles; 4)Gail the angel; 5) A bed.

Day 10:
Zero day in the quaint and picturesque town of Idyllwild.

 The entire town is hiker friendly and I love it here! There are no franchise stores either which is great! I had breakfast at the "Red Kettle" and met a bunch of other PCT hikers there which was fun. I purged my pack again by mailing my heavy water filter home and purchasing an ultralight Sawyer filter and new water bladder. I weighed myself at the sports shop after a hefty breakfast and was 120 pounds. It'll be interesting to weigh in again after a few months. I iced my shin and had an Epsom salts bath, had my laundry done and resupplied my food stocks. All day ling I ran into other hikers I knew. Tomorrow I climb very high up into the San Jacinto mountains to almost 9000ft. Met Ken "Backwoods", former PCT hiker and Idyllwild resident and Canadian couple Leslie and Keith for pizza at dinner.
So thankful for a day of rest!

Day 11:
Time to move back onto the PCT. I was happy to be able to say aloha to Ken and Gator, who I had first met at Warner Springs. He is struggling through the PCT with knee problems and I wish him the best of luck! A lovely lady named Meaux drove me to the trail and this time it was an all afternoon ascent up Devil's slide with stunning views of the San Jacintos and the famous tock face "Lily Rock". 

Absolutely beautiful! It was a constant but pleasant ascent due to the fact that most of the trail was shaded by pine forests. 

10 miles to the San Jacinto River, which looked like a stream, and then on to Fuller's Ridge until sundown where I set up solo camp alongside the trail wedged between some boulders to shelter me from the wind.

 I had only seen a few day hikers today. The wind was howling and the air was filled with smoke from wildfires miles away. 
So far the staple of my diet has been nuts in some form or another. Loose nuts, nut butters, trail mix, bars made with nuts... A great combination of fat, protein and carbohydrates.
Things I am grateful for today:
1) My Sioux Indian Guide; 2) My shin splints feel a bit improved; 3) A cooler  hike today in the forest; 4) All the love and support I'm getting from family and friends; 5) I'm making steady progress.

Day 12:
An icy wind swirled about on Filler's Ridge as I broke camp to head down the 25 mile "punishing descent" into Cabazon.

 It was grueling and most certainly punishing. My shin splints flared up again and felt unbearable at times. Coming down the 9000 ft mountain on never ending switchbacks on loose rocks in the scalding heat was hellish and it took 11.5 hours to get down to the next water source. 

I walked right beside a rattlesnake curled up next to the path. I also want to mention that wild bees on the PCT are alive and well. I am relieved to see this as I've read so much about the demise of the bee population. 

I arrived at a hiker haven called Ziggy and The Bear at sundown and met up with other hikers Andy, Maura and Snickers. Tried to sleep outside under a flapping tarp without much success. This is a crazy adventure!
1) Happy to be off that mountain; 2) Relieved to get water 3) glad to be able to recharge my phones 4) Apple pie and ice cream for supper ; 5) Being able to wash my  clothes and have a ( cold) shower. 


  1. Thank you for sharing the adventure.

  2. So enjoying following your adventure Heather!! You are doing brilliantly - hang in there!! from Staci in Johannesburg