|Sunrise from the scrub camp|
Maybe I'm getting used to the sound of nylon snapping in the wind because it didn't both me as much. The cold, the rocks under me, and the slope where all bothersome. It was a spotty night of sleep, but I ended up sleeping right pass my usual 5 a.m. and woke up at 6-last one up at camp. The clouds over head were gold with the sun and the wind had died down some.
The first part of the morning was all about water. I had a liter and a half of good water and a half liter of swamp water that was so swampy it over powered my hot chocolate. There was possible water three miles away: a spring on trail and a creek .8 miles off trail. The three miles the trail hugged the ridge giving a view of the desert and Palms Spring, CA on the east side and so thick you could walk on them clouds filled the valley to the west making mountains islands in clouds and sunlight.
|The ridge the trail follows divide of desert and rich land to the east|
Going the .5 to the spring was all down. I left my pack at the trail junction and just brought down my bottles (swamp water was untouched, and I had a half liter of good water). Getting down took 15 minutes. The spring had water, but not enough to flow out of its box. I dipped my bottles filling them with icy cold water and floating dirt. It also had a strong sulfur smell and taste, but com paired to yesterdays swamp water it was perfect. It was also the last water source until mile 177. The climb back to the trail took about 20 minutes.
|Lounging hikers at the spring|
The trail north was incredible. It wound through old forest with giant trees on the east side of the mountain. It was a crumbly one foot wide track that hugged the edge of rock cliffs on the western side. As the group left the water I was able to look back and see them on the cliff trail. And there were a couple patches of snow in the cool shade-nothing I had to walk through (yet). The miles weren't coming fast for me. In fact it hardly felt like I was making progress. Pizza in town seemed just as far away at 1:30 as it did in the morning.
I met up with Tommy at mile 175 for a break in the shade. Once we got moving again we crested the mountain at 8,000 feet-I believe that's a new highpoint for me. Then the trail was on the cooler north side of the mountain. And then there was snow to walk through. It was patches of old dirty wet snow that would last 15 feet then give way to bare trail for 15 feet then snow again. For the most part it was compacted enough to walk on top, but when I did posthole I'd be mid-shin deep. My feet were wet in no time.
Even with the snow we made great time to the creek at 177. I drank the last of my water-I had been so thirsty water had replaced pizza in my town fantasies. It was then, with 5.5 miles left to hike, that I started to think we'd make it into town for dinner.
At some point we left the snow behind and arrived at the trail junction. The devil's Slide trail would take me 2.5 miles down into Humber Park and pavement. It was a pretty little trail (although I'm not looking forward to going up it). It had small snow melt waterfalls and views of awesome crags. It didn't take long to get to the bottom.
It was four miles of road into town. The road was lined with summer camps with names like Last Resort and Hide Away and very little traffic. After a few days on trail pavement is painful to walk on. There's no give-each footstep sends shocks up the leg. We made it about .8 before calling Trail Angel Dave for a ride into town. He picked us up within minutes. Drove us into town, gave us a tour, and asked for nothing more than to sign his register and pay the kindness forward on the trail.
At the camp ground I got tokens for the shower and took my second shower of the hike. There will be another one in the morning. We almost missed dinner. After showering it was quarter 'til eight and apparently Idyllwild rolls up the side walk at 8. The Mexican restaurant was nice enough to let us in. The four of us (Detroit Rock City, Tommy, and I) ordered quickly and big. When the food came it filled the table. We all left with take-out boxes.