I was still tired when I awoke in the morning at 5 but my feet felt a million times better. I ate the breakfast I bought at the market the night before and took one last shower for a while. I was out the door at 6:30.
One of the alternate routes around the fire closure left town right in front of the inn. I took the roads they indicated for just over a mile then took a 2.5 mile trail that led to a parking area and another 2.5 mile trail to the actual PCT. This parking area was full and swarming with people. It also had a ranger at the trail head… who wanted to see my permit… which i did not get a chance to print yet. I tried to show her the PDF, but there was no cell service, so we couldn’t read it from the email. Then I checked downloads and voila, there it was. But unfortunately I had only downloaded the cover letter and not the permit itself. Grrrrr. She was about to make me go back to town to print or download it when at the last minute I guess she felt sorry for me since it was obvious that I had one, I just couldn’t show it to her. So instead she made me attend her impromptu leave no trace course right then and there. Five minutes later I was headed up the mountain… With 50 other hikers… And another 50 coming down.
It was quite crowded up there but after about five miles I guess we passed the interesting stuff and the crowd died down. I had flashbacks of Yosemite and the crowded trails. The trail was steep, but the breeze was cool. This was a textbook high mountain trail. and I could feel the effects of the higher altitude. It did not help that I now had a fully resupplied pack from town.
I probably saw only ten other people the rest of the day. One person I did see again was Robin, from Switzerland.
We hiked together a little and stopped for lunch and to fill up on water at the last source for the next 20 miles. I loaded up 5 liters and drank as much as I could before setting out. I wanted to make about another ten miles so I could be within striking distance of I-10 tomorrow.
The best part of the day it that it was not hot. I did not even use the umbrella once all day. There were tons of huge ponderosa pines, too. We topped out at about 9000 ft and I could tell the air was thinner. Most of the morning and afternoon was climbing and it felt like I had no juice all day long. In the late afternoon is was nearly all downhill and fairly easy. The trees have given way to desert again, but there are still a few trees for shade.
We have another fire closure coming up and thus is a big one. I think we will miss close to sixty miles or trail just because there are no alternative trails in the area. We will end up having to take buses to get to Big Bear Lake as best we can. It’s too far to road walk.
I am hoping to make the 17 miles to I-10 in one shot in the morning to avoid the heat. It’s then a 5 mile road walk to catch the first bus from the Morongo Casino. I hope I can finish this all before the buses quit running, otherwise it we will be scrambling to find a hotel in Sacramento. I better get an early pre-dawn start to make sure I have enough time.
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