Desert to Mountains - A 5 Day Journey (with pictures!)
When we last left you, we were in Palm Springs after a day traveling down San Gorgonio Pass - 17 miles downhill, dropping 6,000 feet in elevation. The following is a play-by-play of our 5 day journey to Big Bear City (mile 275), where we are now enjoying a zero day. And since it was requested, we have made an extra effort to include actual trail photos. This first one is our view from the top of San Gorgonio Pass.
DAY 1 - As you know, after 6 miles in the hot, flat, dry desert, we took a break at the Mesa Wind Farm. This picture is Steve at the PCT section C trail sign before the Wind Farm. After our break, we traveled up and over a hot desert mountain and after a short stint of worrying if we would find water, we camped in the middle of two flowing rivers.
DAY 2 - One of our hardest days yet, day 2 consisted of 15 miles uphill, climbing over 6,000 feet and crossing several forks of a river over 20 times. What used to be a lush tree lined canyon, this section was burned in a fire a few years ago, so it was pretty baren land. However, out of the ash wildflowers are popping up everywhere. There was a beautiful contrast of purple and yellow wildflowers with the black, burnt trees.
DAY 3 - Enter snow. What a contrast to go from the flat desert floor to snow patched mountains in two days. It was also a day with lots of fallen trees in the trail, which means have to climb the mountain to get around them - our thighs were sore! And we saw our first real wildlife - a grizzly bear and a tiger! The trail backs up to Randy Miller's Predators in Action where the animals live. And it may have even been Rocky, but we aren't sure.
DAY 4 - An exciting day - we are pleasantly walking down the trail, listening to our ipods. I am cruising along to Skip's Mix when all of a sudden I hear massive hissing! I look to my right, and under a small shaded tree was a rattle snake curled up hissing and rattling up a storm. He scared me so much, I almost fell down trying to back down the trail. He hissed and rattled for a while more until he realized we weren't coming back (we hiked down off the trail to get around him). Steve tried to take a picture, but it was too shaded and I kept yelling at him not to get too close!
We had planned for a 17 mile day, but when we got to our destination by 4 p.m. and the wind was howling, we decided to go a little further, thinking if we got around the mountain the wind might not be so bad. We were wrong. We ended up on top of the mountain and the wind howled ALL NIGHT. After walking around so many fallen trees the day before, all I could think about all night was a tree falling on us. Obviously, we're fine.
DAY 5 - We hiked the 2 miles to the road, and the 4 miles down to Nature's Inn - a fun little place that caters wonderfully to hikers. The owner even gives us goody bags with razers and deodorant - I guess he knows we need it! We enjoyed a lovely dinner with Tarzan, Zelda, Indiana Red, and Slo Jo, where they all decided on a trail name for Steve based on a beverage several of us ordered - LANDSHARK! He is very excited, and so am I - Caterpillar and Steve was just sounding funny.
Today we are enjoying a day of rest, which oddly enough comes with lots of walking. But it seems like we can go forever when we don't have 45 pounds on our back!
Also, I know there was some interest in a video we had made. It is not quite us "in action" on the PCT - we filmed it after our day down San Gorgonio Pass when we were in Palm Springs. It was made for the PCLG Mexico Mission trip service. However, if you'd like to see it, you can download it here.