16 May 2008

Big Bear to Wrightwood

You asked me a few weeks ago if the trail was difficult to follow. These past three days I’ve referred to my maps more times than before. The PCT hasn’t been hard to follow when I’m on it, but there have been dozens of jeep trail crossings, where I’ve gotten turned around for a while.

Sunday morning leaving Big Bear city, a day later than my last letter said, I strolled north from Hwy 18. I took breaks to sit or climb rocks. I meet up with the guys I was dropped-off with near a small creek near Van Dussen Road. We moved on after joking of taking a ride trail back into town.

An hour later, undesirable choices were to be mad. The PCT was temporarily re-routed and I doubted the route and hiked back to the last trail sign, frustrated and impatient. Somehow Gopher, Naught Eyes and Sweekfish all took a wrong turn and how we met up. A decision was made to hike the reroute after maps were consulted (later I learned dozens of hikers ignore the reroute and enjoy water and clear trails).

Hours of 4x4 road walking, seemed uneventful until Naughty Eyes turned to us and said “If I see a ranger, I’m getting a ride.” He had been sick 3+ days in town and though he was better. Yet now 15+ miles into our day and with no known water source or distance to the end of reroute we marched on slower but with focus. Gracefully, a jeep drove by and I flagged down the driver. After calming and accommodating Julie, who was alone, she agreed to help Naughty Eyes (we introduced ourselves with our given names).

Now I was alone, because Gopher and Sweetfish pushed ahead as we’d slowed down. I was left with many uncertainties and ½ liter of water. The sun was setting I the rock filled habitat, very suitable for mountain lions. I walked waving my trekking poles and comforting my rising fears and fatigue. My pace quickened, until I arrived to the end of the reroute water and friends.

I had been on the trail for 12 hours and was moving for 8.5 of those. I properly did 26-30 miles. My feet were sore that night. Even then I was grateful to have been available to offer the little aid I could to Naughty Eyes. Plus, I had put myself within a half-day’s walk to the Deep Creek Hot Springs.

Monday was peaceful, listening to the creek beside me come in and out of earshot as the trail ducked into gullies. I made it to the Hot Springs and spent the night after 15 miles. Strangely, I had a hard time relaxing, in hot pools or swimming the creek.

I awoke slowly and again the trail snaked above a canyon carrying(?) bird songs and water-on-rock melodies. The beauty of this area may be an echo of God’s love for all of humanity. I found it a challenge to allow nature’s full-acceptance and non pretentious gaze wash over me. Still, even I knew that the “Good Book of Nature” was teaching grace and redemption.

The canyon emptied into a valley, but a dam has been constructed. Losing the trail before 9am I retrace my steps and try again. I bush-whack through an overgrown streambed and cross over on a well placed log. Continuing uneventfully along rolling hills until I meet Marlene(?).

Trail angel Marlene, has stopped at a road crossing and is serving up root beer floats. Even though its only 9am and a stiff cool breeze has me in a windbreaker, this local pastor’s “water to the ??? of ???” was a real treat. I had two.

I carried on alone for the remainder of my day. Near Silverwood Lake State park, I took a wrong trail for a wee bit before correcting my error. I paused for a brief foot soaking before my body craved to move-on. I made dinner in the park, but pressed on after 6:30pm to find camp.

Atop Cleghorn Ridge, the PCT crossed a 4x4 road. A small pull-out was my floor space. As I settled into my bag I watched the color show of sunset, and the rising taillights in the distance; tomorrow’s destination.

I awoke after sunrise and made the steep down-hills into Cajon Pass in 3 hours. The tread seemed to be cut into a giant sandbox. I wondered how, at the horizon, an interstate could be held up by these.

I took a half-mile side trail and treated myself to McDonald’s Yogurt, OJ and a hash brown. I laughed with BBBedop and Gopher who had been there an hour before then went to see about prices at the motel. Gopher and I split a room and spent the afternoon out of the blazing sun relaxing.

Thursday, I left anxious for the 22 mile uphill and exposed trail that laid before me. Yoga and a special letter from Emily before leaving settled my nerves. God helped by offering an overcast sky and a windy day as the temperature and I climbed.

The route provided views to the south of San Jacinto and San Gorgonio, plus I was nearly on top of San Antonio. I made camp with Arno, Gopher, Thrust, Just Ben and Prison Rob. Conversation was lively and warm, even though the temps plummeted with the setting sun, winds and 8000+ feet of elevation.

I’m now in Wrightwood at a trail Angel’s home resting. I’m not going anywhere tomorrow and will enjoy a zero.

I miss you and mom.

No comments: