Day: Monday, May 23rd 2016
Miles: 191.35 – 210.8
Remote Camp 191.35 – Ziggy and the Bears
Sadly in the case of thu-hiking, the past week and a half has taught me that this horrid phrase is far too true for my liking. The PCT is a national scenic trail, it’s thusly not intended for you to get to where you are going quickly, you’ll get there when it darn well decides you will, and it will show you much magnificence along the way, and you’ll like it (whether you like it or not).
Today was a down day. Not in the psychological sense, but last night I slept at 7000ft (and change), and tonight I’m sleeping at 1655ft. That feeling of elevation of yesterday has been replaced by an IT band that feels like it was used as a cannonball slingshot, along with a lower-back that probably just needs a full new set of shock absorbers. In between my splendid sunset of last night and this evenings floor space at Ziggy and the Bears trail-house. The 17mile down-stretch provided some of the most incredible views thus far. The views stretched to the north and east into the desert valley below, and dropped from alpine cool meadows through burn-zones right down to freight-train-wind bashed desert valley floor. The diversity was remarkable, the trail itself, unmerciful.
As I dropped down further and further, I witnessed the emergence of some new little critters I hadn’t seen, lizards and little squirrel like fellows that looked a little like pikas, as well as snake number 6 (for the record).
I passed through Milemarker 200, although having missed 25miles due to the Mountain Fire Closure area this felt a little less momentous.
Finally I reached the valley floor and one of the more unusual weather events so far – the incredible effect created by the linkage of the hot desert of the Coachella Valley through to the sea-inclined Los Angeles basin. In this space, clouds billowed into the valley at high speed before dissolving into blue in front of your eyes, whilst a cool wind of such immense speed, noise and power billowed through with an ability to take a human off their feet (no doubt assisted of course, by the center of gravity distorting pack weight (oh that pack).
The desert section was assisted to some degree (pun intended) by the wind, as it was cool enough to walk in the early afternoon, apparently it was 105F there a few days ago so no complaints from this dried out wanderer, but the wind resistance itself was intense. It became a considerable workout. By 1:00PM I was hot and tired and with just a mile to go to Ziggy and the Bears, I held back at a highway underpass for a quick nap. I think I have truly turned a corner in life. Two weeks ago I was working in a busy noffice. Today I slept under a highway by some railroad tracks. And that there is where my life is at!
I arrived at the trail house around 2pm along with a friendly and filthy (like myself) hiker called Mango from Texas. After a shower and some clothes washing. I found out about options to avoid the next big fire closure area directly impeding my progress – the so called Lake Fire just north of here. This burned a beautiful section of the PCT last June (2015) and is awaiting reopening (hopefully next month). If it opens before seasons-end, then I will try to flip south and complete it at the end. Today I found that the only avoidance option available was a 6am shuttle to San Bernardino Transit Center tomorrow, and then a public bus to Big Bear City where I can pick up the trail. It beats a 70mile hitch but it’s hardly ideal, the best solution for a bad situation. I will leave the trail at 210.8 and rejoin at 266.1, a lengthy 3 day miss due to 15miles of closed trail, but sadly the only other alternate currently in view is a grizzly 51 mile detour that looks to be unsavory in the extreme – think of road walking in the mid-margin of a busy highway and unmarked dirt roads.
Tonight I settled into Ziggy and the Bears with some comfy couches and great hospitality from these two venerable masters of PCT lore. We even had a bonus trip to In’N’Out Burger to feed us hungry hippos!
I literally can’t wait to get back to the trail tomorrow.