Days 20 & 21: Miles 178.0 – 209.6 (Palm Springs)

Chaffing is a real problem in the world of hiking. No matter how well you prepare yourself, chaffing is likely to happen sooner or later. Yesterday, both Bird and I were experiencing some mild chaffing during our descent into Palm Springs. When I say mild… I mean very mild!

As a kid growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, we didn’t have the luxuries of new-age textiles. Hiking clothes nowadays are designed to help prevent chaffing, smelling, sweating, etc. When I was a kid, I wore clothes made from cotton. Anything else was too expensive, too bulky, too itchy… you get the point.

I first started backpacking when I was 13 years of age. My equipment wasn’t the greatest… nothing compared to what I own now. I hiked in red denim shorts and a cotton Bugs Bunny and Friends hip-hop t-shirt. My pack weighed nearly half my weight, which I struggled to even get onto my back.

I recall wearing those red denim shorts and Bugs Bunny t-shirt on my hike up Mount San Jacinto. Those jeans were the absolute worst option for shorts to hike in. By the end of the hike, I remember walking bow legged and nearly crying from all the sores I now had from the massive chaffing I had received during our hike. The skin between my thighs and buttocks was absolutely destroyed and extremely painful.

I had a good chuckle as I recalled the chaffing experience as a teenage boy, hiking Mount San Jacinto. It was funny to me that here I was thirty years later, complaining about some VERY mild chaffing on the very same mountain.

It can be very humbling when you put things into perspective. Especially when it’s your own perspective…

Miles 178.0 – 193.6

I woke up Day 20 anxious to get back on trail. We’ve been in Idyllwild for way too long. It was worth the stay considering how intense last night’s winter storm got, which included pretty intense thunderstorms with a mixture of rain, snow, and hail. Most definitely not ideal hiking conditions.

Happy Trails!

Rachael, Bird, and I hit the road a couple minutes before 9:00 a.m. We had a long day ahead of us, so getting an early start was going to be important. It was a 15 miles hike, and nearly all of it was up hill. First, we had to road walk out of Idyllwild, through Pine Cove and up Black Mountain Road. Then we had a slight decent down the mountain to our tent site.

The three of us spent most of our day clawing our way up 2,700 feet in elevation. Our thighs, calves, and glutes felt like they were on fire. Once we hit the snow line, our already difficult uphill hike turned into an uphill hike in snow.

All smiles!

We received our first taste of hiking in the snow. There was about 4-6 inches of snow on the ground, which was starting to melt, so instead of hiking on top of the snow, each footstep was met with a snow slurry that saturated our feet. At one point, we even had to equip our micro spikes in order to navigate icy slopes along the shaded portions of the trail.

To make our day a little more exciting… we found mountain lion tracks in the snow. Luckily, the tracks were heading down the mountain and we were heading up the mountain. Still… it was a gentle reminder of the dangers that do exist on trail.

Mountain Lion Tracks

We eventually made it to our campsite and not a moment too soon. By the time we made it to the top of the mountain, the wind had picked up and was making for some very chilly conditions. Normally a little wind is no big deal, but today, our clothes were damp from sweating all day and we weren’t dealing with a gentle breeze. No, we were dealing with heavy sustained winds with even heavier gusts. Getting our tents up was no easy feat.

Trail conditions at 7,700 ft.

Miles 193.6 – 209.6

Sleeping in a flimsy tent under heavy winds is not exactly fun. The howling of the wind is not something you can simply ignore. It’s like being surrounded by a group of morning banshees. My tent constantly whips me in the face as I attempt to sleep. The whole experience is unpleasant and leads to a restless night’s sleep.

Our hike today was all downhill; a 4,800-foot decent to be exact. We experienced an entire day of knee jolting steps along a trail littered with ankle destroying rocks. Downhill travel has its perks, but it also comes with some serious downfalls.

Morning View of the Valley

The views today were epic! To the North, we could see the valley below, which included views of Cabazon, White Water, Palm Springs and wind turbine farms as far as the eye can see. Behind us, Mount San Jacinto is all of its glory… towering over us as we stumbled down the mountain.

Looking back at Mount San Jacinto.

The mountainside changes drastically as the altitude along the trail changes. We started in the alpine, and quickly found ourselves again amongst the manzanita. Soon after that, we were blazing our way through the chaparral and eventually low enough that we walked amongst the cacti.

Despite the torturous downhill stumble, we did have a huge morale boost. Rachael, Bird, and I passed by the 200 mile marker! It’s crazy to think we have walked 200 miles by foot. It’s even crazier to think we’re about to walk another 2,441 miles more…

Rachael, Bird, Smiley – 200 Miles

Thank You!

I want to give a huge shoutout to the Desert Oasis Trail Angels. Twice in one day we received trail magic in the form of fresh fruit and beverages. The first trail magic was at the base of the mountain, just before our four-mile hike to the Interstate 10 Freeway. We dropped our packs and enjoyed a delicious Corona beer along with an assortment of fruit: 🍎 🍌 🍊.

Bush Corona

When we reached the I-10 overpass, we found more delicious fruit and sodas. We also had the opportunity to leave our mark and to see what hikers had passed through before us. It was far fewer than I would have thought. Apparently, a lot of hikers have dropped off trail already.

I-10 Overpass

We’re staying the night in Palm Springs tonight so we can resupply before hopping back on trail. We will be tackling a very technically difficult section in the next couple days, so please stay tuned.

Cheers, Smiley

One step at a time.

200 MM

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Comments 3

  • Joy Morrison : Mar 27th

    Hey smiley, love reading your posts and look forward to them. I am starting April 18th from Campo (I live in San Diego) just wondering where you three stayed in Palm Springs, you’ll probably post but thought I’d ask. Thanks!

    • Smiley : Apr 1st

      We did stay in Palm Springs for a couple days. I’ll update everyone on the next post. Thanks for reading. I greatly appreciate your support.

  • Jon Morris : Mar 28th

    Hi smiley, thanks for posting the updates. I’ve been following along since your start and enjoy your writeups about this adventure.


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