We have officially received our trail names. Jake is now referred to as Level, due to him being incredibly particular with our tent spot. Each night he smooths out the ground where we will put our tent.
I am now called, Curdled due to an unfortunate half and half coffee incident. I thought it would be a good idea to bring small creamers to make our coffee extra delicious. I carried it for too many hot days, making my coffee stringy, looking like egg drop soup. I drank it anyways. Never waste a good coffee packet!
Last update we were in the town of Idyllwild which repaired my body and mindset. For some reason week two had me going through a rollercoaster of emotions. The odd cold weather which I didn’t expect along with the feeling of keeping up with other hikers had me forgetting what this hike was all about. The second day in Idyllwild had me in dreamland. We stayed at an Inn and the first thing I did was take an hour bath with epsom salt and a glass of wine. We built a fire in the fireplace and started our night feast of the foods we had been craving. Salads, chips, hummus, chicken, burritos, and fruit. Best of all we were finally in a warm, temperature regulated room as we looked out at the snowy cold outdoors.
The next morning I woke up feeling like a million bucks. Crazy how out here a warm bed and good food can do absolute wonders for the mind and body. We resupplied, buying 6 days worth of food for the next week. Tuna, wraps, bagels, peanut butter, protein bars, Fritos, noodles, spices, dried fruit, and a speciality eclair mini cake that would boost our caloric intake.
Week three has been absolutely amazing. I got my hiking groove and the trail has been absolutely beautiful. The first day out of town we left around noon and got 6 miles, finally in a forested area! Trees, boulders, dirt rather than sand.
We decided to camp after only 6 miles and it was amazing. We got our cozy clothes on, played rummy, made mac and cheese and laughed a lot. It was a nice way to ease into hiking after a couple days off. That night I did my daily meditation and felt so much joy I felt tears streaming down my cheeks. After 2 weeks of struggling to really get into the groove of trail life again it was just what I needed.
The next day we decided to take an extra side trip up Mt San Jacinto, the highest peak in Southern California. We saw another hiker, ‘Birdie’ who said he would go up as well. We all left our packs on the PCT thinking it would be a fairly quick 4 mile hike. Well that 2 miles up to the peak was pretty vigorous, taking us longer than expected. I started questioning if it was worth it but once we got up to the peak that all melted away.
It was a stunning view, different from anything we have witnessed before. Every which way was a whole different landscape way down below. It was a rocky peak, with massive boulders making you pay attention to each step you took. Something the camera doesn’t even begin to describe.
That day we kicked butt the rest of the day, 18 pretty tough miles. We were up at pretty high elevation all day, so the landscape continued through big trees and fabulous views throughout the day. I spent most of the day living in the moment, constantly looking at the views.
Though towards the end our feet and legs were aching but we were on the ridge and there were no places to camp. But low and behold our patience paid off because we got a dream flat spot on the ridge. Since the nights are longer and warmer I get to enjoy sitting out overlooking the views as I journal, meditate, and stretch. That night again gave me tingles of happiness that I never feely busy non-trail life. We slept with the rain fly off so we could see the night sky.
The next morning all the cactus were starting to bud and flowers were blooming.
There was an awesome succulent growing right on a rock with a long stem growing out the middle. It reminded me of an old Polly pocket toy I used to have. We took a short break near some boulders where Level was a bee whisperer as one bee was tickling him between the toes.
He stayed so calm and was laughing. Then we encountered a huge bee hive in a rock crevice where numerous hikers had been stung. We ran as fast as we could and didn’t stop until we were far away. No stings!
The already hot sun was burning at 930am and the breaks we took under the boulders were unbelieveably shady and cool. I am getting into a relaxed mindset, trying not to feel antsy when we aren’t making progress. Each day isn’t about the miles we make it’s about the moments throughout the day.
Part two of this day felt like a whole different reality. A hot, dreadful reality of the desert. No shade, hot sand feeling like every step our calves were working double time. If you stopped you could feel your feet on fire, so you just keep walking. Level was good humored, dancing in front of me making me less miserable. I thought of the next shade 4 miles away under a bridge.
Then… as we went under the bridge there was a lady running towards us arms spread open for a big hug. Her name was Mama Bear and she had trail magic of fruit, hot dogs, soda, and encouragement. So amazing at that time because all hikers at that point were so drained and down from the rough desert.
After we left I has a mini panic attack as it was 230 and there was no shade to be seen for miles and miles. Level squirted me with water as I planted myself under a bush for a minuscule amount of shade. During those miles I just kept thinking of the natives that used to roam the lands without any issue. I knew I’d be fine and just had to stay mentally strong. These were the moments that eventually I will treasure because they are my confidence growing moments. That day we didn’t make our mileage goal because my head was pounding and I hit a mental wall. Each can step I felt like I was angry at the world and I didn’t want to continue the day with such a negative mentality. So we found a small spot and knew we would be better in the morning.
Slept a bit miserably but the next day we finally got to what we first thought was a mirage. WATER!! We sat by a creek with Mango and saw Birdie who had been wading in the water for hours in the morning. Every hiker that day had spent hours sitting in awe near the water. Each section we did that day eventually led to water, keeping hikers with a focused attitude. No one seemed to talk too much when hiking, the desert heat has a way of draining all your energy. We all took naps near the next water and waited until 4pm to start hiking again.