After a restful nights sleep on the carpeted ground and covered marquee at Ziggy and the Bear, we decided on an early start to beat the crowd that would surely follow. Topped up with three and a half days food, we wandered onto the trail and headed for a valley that would take us over the first set of hills. The first hour was spent gazing at the vast number of windmills on the surrounding slopes, before climbing up and over a saddle to the next valley. It was here we met SWC once again, having seen him the day before during the descent of the San Jacinto Mountains. This was likely to be our last meeting for a while, with the small possibility of seeing him in Oregon in the following months. Wandering down onto a large river valley floor, we passed the wild boys. They are two men with large dreads and beards who are hunting and gathering between resupply stops. Apparently they have every permit under the sun in which to collect almost every edible animal they can find. Strolling up the stream we met, of all people, Scout, the trail angel we stayed with at the start, coming the other way. He offered us peanut butter cookies that his wife Frodo had made earlier. Contented, we hiked on, putting some easy miles under our shoes. Soon the trail climbed once again out of the valley, with more contouring and ridge climbing to follow before lunch. A short descent led us to a nearby stream with a tall tree providing perfect shade. Joining us were Juice and Whistler, both of whom were aiming for 25 mile days to challenge themselves on the trail. Deciding that there could be nice campsites further upstream, we hiked another five miles. This part of the trail involved following the stream bed, forming an easy gradient and a pleasant contrast between the deserted slopes and the thin green line of trees. At the end a ridge above the stream provided a perfectly situated campsite, with easy access to water, a rarity in these parts. With dinner over overlooking the valley, we retired to our tents at a very leisurely hour, with only the wind ruffling our tents.
Miles hiked – 20