Today was an inverted nearo. I rented a car at 8 am and drove all day, returned the car, and got dropped off at the trail at 5 PM, but sat in the shade of a gully wall for an hour before I took off. It was a scorcher today.
I had two errands to run with the car, look for my glasses and go to REI in Rancho Cucamonga. Luckily they were both in the same direction. I decided to take the route out of town that hugged the mountains but was still in the desert. It went through small towns all along the way, but first stop was Mojave. This is the town where Dick and Burt Rutan built all sorts of crazy airplanes like Spaceship One and the only plane to fly around the world without refueling. The guy who gave me a ride into town yesterday worked there. Passing through Mojave at 9am it was already 102 degrees. Palmdale was the other notable town the rout went through which was also a big aircraft town, but not much to see just driving through it.
Once I got near Cajon pass, I found the canyon road pretty easily. The way point I had marked from Google maps apparently has an old route for the PCT because it had me about two miles from where I needed to be. I whipped out one of my hiking apps and quickly found the right spot. The temperature was 102, but with the umbrella it was not too bad.
Everything was as I remembered it. If I was lucky, I would only have to hike one mile to my first resting spot.
I got there in twenty minutes and searched for ten. No glasses. I then came back to the water cache and looked high and low. No glasses. I then decided to hike a half mile in the other indirection to where there was a trail register. No glasses. After an hour and a half in the desert, still no glasses. It must have been the second spot that I went back and checked the night I lost them but for some reason could not find them. Or perhaps someone did pick them up. I took pictures of the register at the water cache just for my records.
Back in the car and off to Rancho Chupacabra. I found the REI quickly, but was hungry so I went to eat at a Pacific island grocery that had a deli. I ate some sort of rice noodles. This is the third dining faux pas. First beans and Mac n cheese, now fancy ramen. It was better than grocery store ramen.
On to REI. First up pants. My pants are getting loose and have an adjuster but it slips and I wanted to see how the next size down fit. Too tight. Next up – ice axe. I checked my size and it looks like 55 or 60 will do for me. But I just couldn’t pull the trigger on $100 I might need only once. I decided to forgo the axe and get poles instead. They had an REI branded folding carbon poles half price. Deal. Last up – solar charger. I’m about to get into more remote areas and the phone eats about 20% per day even on airplane mode and the battery backup has worked once, but one time was already out of juice. I think k it’s worth the piece of mind to charge the phone from the battery each night and charge the battery from solar power each day. Done. When I get back to the car, it’s already 116 degrees. Sheesh, I need to get back to the mountains.
On the drive back, I decide to take the bigger roads that go through the middle of the Mojave desert to see what’s there. Nothing is there, not even passing zones. Playing dodgeball with trucks is not fun. The poor little Nissan versa can hardly keep the car cool even with the AC on full blast. It’s hot, like 115 hot.
I get back to town at 3:30, so that gives me thirty minutes to fill up the car with gas, eat, and hit the post office. I grab a burrito at Del Taco (again with the foods I make on trail), I hit the gas station. The car was on fumes and still only took 9 gallons. I made a beeline for the post office and there was quite a line. It only took 15 mins and then I was off to the rental agency. I got there at 4:20 and they had time to buzz me out to the trail.
I had 17 miles to next water, so I loaded up with five liters. It was mostly climbing for six miles to the first good camping. I ran across an interesting campsite that used dead Joshua tree logs as a windbreak. These logs end up being like balsa wood, but if you stack enough of them, they do make a good wind break. I wonder if this counts as an established campsite or not? I went a little further before making camp for the night.
Once it turned dark, the views back towards Mojave were quite impressive. The silhouette of wind turbines against a reddening sky is a neat experience. Even though it is hard, the desert is still beautiful.
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