Waking up at Big Pine Flat campground was just so lovely. There was a picnic table!
Zorro & San Gabriel got the jump on us, but after more road walking, we found the trail at Deep Creek and headed west for a big steel bridge. Eventually we caught up with the boys, and laid out on a sandy shore underneath a steel bridge over deep creek for several hours. Then we did 10 miles before dark to get to the legendary Deep Creek Hot Springs. Or should I say, the Old Naked Man Hot Springs (featuring the High School drinking club kids).
Even though this was Saturday night and the crowd was a little rowdy, the Caterpillar and I found a place to rest our heads. But in the dusk light, we lost track of the boys and haven't seen them since. The kids around most of the spring pools were too drunk or high to be helpful that evening, so we found a shallower pool, which you're looking at in the daylight. A free, natural hot tub is an unbelievably welcome experience after busting out 21 miles.
One extra foot soak later, we hit the trail late. We figured on about 16 miles. But after a lovely jaunt down the canyon, we found ourselves below the unneccessary Mojave River Dam. The trail is completely overgrown but we knew we had to ford the creek. We bushwhacked to water's edge and I took the plunge into the stream. Caterpillars being hydrophobic, Jane dilly-dallied a moment before following. The water was up to our mid-thigh in the first step.
With her successful crossing complete, and no sign of a trail on the other side, I said, "Well, we're already wet," and proceeded to start river walking. Eventually, a promising bank beckoned to me and I climbed my way out of that mess to find our beloved pathway within reach. And Jane was slow at this as well.
30 paces further, but around a bend, a sandy shore awaited our lunching and bemused, "Why didn't we climb out here?" Socks dried, water filtered.
And the trail continued, contouring above the quaint berg of Hesperia. And then we just kept going. And going. That jeep road has to be somewhere. Is this only 2.5 miles? I'm getting tired. Me, too. Wait, this is the poorly paved road! And that's highway 173! We're 2 miles further than we thought.
The only thing left for us to do is plunge into the Silverwood Lake Recreation Area. So we do. And that goes on, and on, and it's getting darker and darker and, oh no, we have to go around the lake there, too? Ugh.
It's now 8 p.m. and we've reached what we think are campsites along the shore of Silverwood. Being a provider for my broken, exhausted bride, I flag down the ranger car who informs us, "No Camping here, on the other side of the lake. You're almost there." At this point, it is dark. We find a bike path, follow it into oblivion for half a mile and after many false alarms, firelight and friendly voices invite me to frighten a group of campers in desperation.
Picture a filthy, four-eyed, 6'5" dude stumbling into your camp with desperate questions? How would you react? Well, Pete, Manuel, and Roger (not to mention Little David and Sebastian) calmly tell us they have no idea where we're going. Another ranger car drives by and I call sweetly to him. He stops, it's the same guy, and finally compassion overwhelms him. We can stay here if we like. YES, please. Thank you, God. It was another 21 miles on Sunday.
You'd think the day was through, but you'd be wrong. The hospitality from the aforementioned five was the first over-the-top trail magic we've encountered. They were cooking carne asade on the fire and invited us over. They had chairs enough for both of us. They kept plying us with offers of beer, coke and water. They asked us about our trip and confessed to being freaked out by my appearance from the brush. Manuel was right though, they could've taken me if need be.
We laughed and enjoyed their company until 10:45 and then called it a night. What a great day. If Manuel, Pete or Roger read this, we would be eternally grateful if you decided to comment and include a recipe for the carne asade. Best I've ever had this side of the border!
Today we walked 14 miles to I-15 at Cajon Pass and ended at the infamous PCT McDonald's. I should mention that this whole stretch from Big Bear, we've followed these massive footprints that have no tread. These ninja footprints slightly freaked us out for several days. Today, the ninja turned out to be Tortoise. The Middle-aged Blacksmith Ninja Tortoise, that is.
Basically, today is a blur and we completed 68 miles in 3.5 days. Tonight we're staying at the Best Western Cajon Pass and continue on tomorrow towards Wrightwood and Mt. Baden-Powell , seen below (the snowy one).