A long and varied day, and red was its color. With a restful sleep nestled in the campground, we awoke to the sounds of breakfast. After packing up, a quick recon led to pancakes for Rattles and Sole Catcher. These were apparently the best ones yet. Full on breakfast, we began the first of two long climbs for the day. It began with a rising blood red sun, colored by the dust over the desert. Heading towards a saddle eight and a half miles up, we worked our way up out of the valley and into some trees. Rocky scree on the trail made footing challenging at times, but was rewarded with views out to the desert and surrounding mountains. Up and up we slowly climbed, passing Jenkins Peak and noting a new variety of snake we hadn’t yet seen. This one was bright orange underneath. Upon reaching the saddle, we quickly descended into the next catchment valley, switchbacking down towards our lunch spot. Within the last mile we ran out of trees on the trail, which lowered our expectations of future shade. A short, sharp drop led down to a sheltered lunch area next to cool water flowing out of a small pipe. With these luxuries we lounged around under the trees. Finally, with the heat beginning to fade a little, we crawled back up to the trail, and set off towards our next water six miles away. The first three miles were long, hot desert scrub, with the trail proceeding to climb aggressively. Moving along the exposed trail, we realized our trail fitness had grown immeasurably as we barely slowed, even under less then ideal conditions. Cresting another saddle, we were presented with views of forested mountains rising up to the north. Invigorated by this sight, we plunged down, and covered the next few miles quickly. Upon reaching the first muddy creek, we were greeted by a cluster of hikers. Wondering what was happening, we quickly spotted a black bear cub wandering just below the trail. He seemed rather unperturbed by our presence, even going so far as to push us further up the trail. After some pictures, we decided not to wait around and see if there was a mother nearby, and went to the next water source just up the hill. After stocking up on food and water, we began the second big climb for the day. Two large switchbacks cut across the face of the mountain led to the top of another saddle. As we crested the edge, the setting sun enhanced the nearby rocks with a red glow. Deciding to carry on a little further to find a campsite, we walked amongst the trees illuminated in orange by a stunning sunset. One potential spot was voided due to strong winds, requiring another two miles to finally reach a reasonably sheltered site situated behind a knoll. With two long days in a row, we calculated that Rattles and I had walked 51 miles in two days over several thousand feet.
Miles hiked – 25