Idyllwild to Big Bear
April 27, 2014
Start: Halfmile 0179.5
End: Halfmile 0193.0
Distance: 13.5 + 5.0 + 4.0 = 22.5 Mi
Cumulative: 202.5 Mi
Left Idyllwild at 8a this morning. Pleasantly surprised at how dry my gear was while I packed up. Unfortunately, the strap on one of my gators was torn clean through. Ah well, I’ll have to get ’em replaced at my next stop in Big Bear. Better to hit the trail, since I was already getting a late start.
The Devil’s Slide Trail re-joins the PCT at Saddle Junction, which is about 2 miles north of the northern boundary of the official fire closure. I backtracked to the fire closure, hoping to get some cool photos of the burn perimeter. I was frustrated to find that the closure wasn’t at the interface. I couldn’t see any sign of last summer’s fire. At least it was a pretty detour.
I knew that I needed to cover some ground this afternoon if I was going to camp below the snow. The upper ridges got 4-6″. Some of it had already melted out but much of it still obscured the trail. I was skeptical of the footprints at first, but the front runners actually did a great job keeping to the elusive PCT. It was a long, steady slog through the slushy mess. It’s 8p, and I’ve only just set up camp. By “set up camp,” I actually mean “rolled out my sleeping bag.” I’m cowboy camping tonight. Got a nice little nook out of the wind. I’m tucked between two boulders with trees at my feet and an upward slope over my head. Quite a find given the late hour and long, steep descent ahead. I’ll drop about 7,000′ tomorrow morning, all the way to the desert floor.
April 28, 2014
Start: Halfmile 0193.0
End: Halfmile 0220.5
Distance: 27.5 Mi
Cumulative: 230.0 Mi
Lost my hiking buddies yesterday. I was fairly certain Phantom was just ahead and Mammoth just behind. Barely managed to catch Phantom at Ziggy and the Bear’s home around mile 210 this morning. Still no sign of Mammoth.
Not having gators has really put the hurt on me. It wasn’t bad yesterday in the snow, but being in the desert today has been rough. I’ve had to stop constantly to clear my trail runners of sand and rocks. And still it seems I haven’t stopped frequently enough. My heels are tender from the constant friction of the sand, and I’m experiencing sharp point pain in the balls of both feet. The chafe comes and goes but mostly seems to be improving (thanks to a hearty helping of Gold Bond). It may sound like I’m complaining, but I’m not. I love being out here. Blisters, chafe, sunsets, and snow. If it goes like this until Canada, I’ll make it. This is my life. And it ain’t bad.
April 29, 2014
Start: Halfmile 0220.5
End: Halfmile 0245.5
Distance: 25.0 Mi
Cumulative: 255.0 Mi
Trekking through such a gorgeous and familiar area is comforting. I love Mission Creek. I’ve been looking forward to this day since I first realized that this would be the year I’d be back.
This was one of my very first trail hitches. This is the place where I learned about check steps and retaining walls, the very structures that I’ve built a hundred times since. It’s surreal to be back here for the first time in three years. Being in this place and seeing what we accomplished made me think of some seriously awesome folks. That was a good year filled with incredible opportunities and exceptional people. Wherever you all are, I hope you’re loving this life as much as I am.
I’ve often wondered how our work was holding up. Now I know; it’s totally bombproof.
April 30, 2014
Start: Halfmile 0245.5
End: Halfmile 0266.0
Distance: 20.5 Mi
Cumulative: 275.5 Mi
Now, that’s a blister! Hiking 20 miles today wasn’t nearly as painful as you might think, but I’m feeling it right now. That thing is huge, and it’s right in the spot where my toes curl under.
Mammoth told me to hike until it burst. “Just keep going until the thing gets out of control and takes care of itself,” he said. Personally, I don’t really like the idea of that thing exploding in my dirty, nasty sock when I’m 50 miles from the nearest town. That’s inviting an infection.
Nah, instead I chose to try something that I’ve always kinda wanted to try but also always hoped I’d never need to. I threaded it. I sterilized a needle and thread, sewed it through the base of the blister, and tied it off in a loop. For the most part, it drained when I punctured it. I can still feel some fluid in there, but that’s part of the advantage to this treatment. The thread helps absorb the excess fluid. And using the needle means that the old – dead – skin will still be in place to protect the raw skin underneath.
It’s still pretty tender to walk on, but it should start healing in about 36 hours. My tentative plan is to take my second zero of the trip tomorrow, then head out first thing Friday morning. I hate zero-ing again; I wanna be moving! But I know it's important for me to focus on being healthy, especially this early on. Gotta start forming good habits. Besides, I'm pretty excited to be trying this treatment out. How cool would it be if this works? Stay tuned!