Today was an interesting day. After a windy night we awoke to another sunny sky. When it finally rains no one is going to know what to do. After packing up camp we realized Nathan wasn’t feeling the most energetic, so we resolved to take it slow with lots of breaks as we only had 16 miles to go. Quickly moving above the trees we found that the wind had picked up noticeably, causing some choice words to be said as it whipped our hats around. It was at this point I was glad I didn’t have a sun umbrella as it would have beaten me to Canada. Arriving early at the first water stop, we had sufficient water to carry on the next ten miles and had no inclination to walk the one mile off trail to get some. The surrounding countryside of large boulders soon gave way to shrubby slopes reminiscent of the landscape north of Mt Laguna. A long break after some climbing saw B Back catch up to us, who we had seen the day before leaving Paradise Cafe as we arrived. The rest of the morning involved climbing towards a saddle that overlooked great expanses to the east and west. Shortly before lunch we entered the cool glades of mountain pines, before a quick descent to our water supply for the day. After fending off the ever tenacious ants and with Nathan starting to perk up, we took off for an afternoon of serious climbing. This section is where the PCT starts to truly gain altitude into the San Jacinto Moutains, reaching elevations of 8,000 feet. Finally getting our teeth into some uphill more characteristic of New Zealand trails, we made good progress. On the way we briefly met Michelle, Andrea and Elizabeth, as well as having a more extended conversation with SWC. SWC is a 64 old who is hiking parts of the PCT and cowboy camping (sleeping without a tent). He has been to every continent, worked in destroying nuclear armaments, was a CB in the Marine Core, and lived in the middle of Russia and on a tiny island south of India for several years. Needless to say there are some amazing characters on the trail. His wife is driving around in an RV with their two dogs and we may see them again tomorrow in Idyllwild. The end of the day saw some of the most spectacular views yet, with sweeping desert to the east and some big lakes to the west. To the north lie mountains above 10,000 feet and to the south the trail we have already walked. Parts of the trail were situated on slopes one would describe as steep, with a fall resulting in several thousand feet of descent achieved at considerable pace. Upon reaching our camp site perched high above the plains below, we caught up with Michelle who is a girl from the Jersey Shore. She had some interesting stories to tell. Tomorrow sees us head for the hiker friendly town of Idyllwild several thousand feet below.
Miles hiked – 16