April 20, 2016
Ziggy and the bear (mile 210.8) to Mission Creek Stonehouse
Miles: 18.1 (14.9 PCT miles + 1 mile for water + 2.2 miles on mission creek road
We left LA at 6:30am to drive back to Ziggy and the Bear. We got there at 8:15am, taped our feet, shuffled our belongings and set out into the heat at 8:45.
Today was the start of a 4 day- 60 mile adventure. Laurie was nervous, Andy was excited.
The PCT is closed from mile 234.5 to onyx summit (mile 252.1) due to the Lake Fire. We are attempting to walk around the closure-tying together some PCT miles, some dirt roads, some walks through towns and possibly (if we are lucky, some hitchhiking). The difficult and unnerving aspect of this reroute is the lack of knowledge of the roads and water availability.
On the PCT things are simple. Almost too simple. There are apps that use gps so you know exactly where you are in relation to the trail, where water sources and campsites are located, and much more. The thinking is done for you. All you have to do is walk.
Now- as we venture off the PCT it is like walking back in time. Back to a time when you have to use good ole maps. We do have google maps- so I guess we aren’t going all old school.
We head out on the PCT, walking past the Mesa wind farm and amongst dry tumble weed. Everything is super dry-it is easy to see how this area could burn.
We climb, at times gradually and other times more steeply. The wind, which we have fondly named “gusto” comes to visit rather sporadically. (Living in San Francisco where the fog is named “Karl” it seemed only natural to name the wind.)
On top of the ridge the wind picks up and flips our umbrellas inside out.
“Pace yourself Gusto, pace yourself” Andy shouts.
We turn our umbrellas right side out, store them away and resort to using our hats and many layers of sunscreen.
The trails winds down and around the hillsides past many cow patties (we never saw any cows) and drops into a canyon. In the distance we see Whitewater Canyon. It’s an oasis in the desert. Lukewarm water flowing through an arid landscape.
Surreal and beautiful.
We pass some botanists and chat about the area. They know the roads we are planning to take- cannot speak to the details of water availability- but the conversation alone puts Laurie at ease.
We walk another 2 miles and have lunch in the shade by the river. Two day hikers stop to chat. Recently when people learn we are thru- hikers they get excited and want to know all about us. Most frequently we are asked what kind of jobs we have that allow us to take 6 months off? Really though, what they want to know is how we are doing this.
Andy gently reminds them that if we really want to do something, we will find ways to make it happen. He says that our brains work differently when we commit to doing something. We forget the excuses and start thinking of solutions.
After an hour long break, we pack up and hit the trail as the sun begins encroaching our shade. This time we take a total of 9 liters with us. It’s more than we need, way more, but we’d rather have extra than run out of water out here.
It’s 2:30pm and nearing 90 degrees. We make promises to one another to drink plenty and say something if we start to overheat.
Right out of the gate, we climb 600 ft, then down, then up again. Thankfully our friend gusto keeps us cool.
We walk along the ridge appreciating the beauty of the desert. It’s really pretty here. And unlike the rest of the trail, this section is deserted because majority of PCT hikers are catching a ride to Big Bear due to the closure.
We enjoy the serenity of the quiet desert, find the still flowing Mission Creek, top off all our bottles (we are carrying 9 liters again – Laurie carrying 4, and Andy 5) and start walking the fire road.
At 6:30pm we walk into the Mission Creek Preserve to find the storehouse picnic area. This will be home for tonight.
It’s really windy here, so we sleep indoors. What’s really great about this place is they have running water and the cleanest toilets we’ve ever come across. There is soap, tp and paper towels! Thank you to whomever keeps this place in tip top shape!
We eat dinner outside sitting on a picnic table, listening to coyotes howling in the distance.
It’s time for bed in our cozy adobe. It’s a little too warm but it beats getting pounded by the wind. Goodnight.
Tonight we are grateful for the wind and running water.