Pacific Crest Trail Week 2: From the Desert Floor to the Peak of San Jacinto
A Surprise Box for Myself
The post office at Warner Springs is where a lot of hikers send a resupply box since there are not many options to buy food there. When I made a few resupply boxes back in San Diego, I was still very jetlagged so I could barely remember what I put into the box. A surprise box! It was like Christmas. Happy hiker faces leaving the post office with boxes full of food. I was proud of my jetlagged brain and the food choices I made. Happily, I repacked my bag while posting the picture of Eagle Rock that I took that morning.
Yoga on Eagle Rock
The morning was cold and foggy. The worst weather for my hands. I want to be honest about the trail so here it goes. I suffer from Reynaud’s Disease, which is a disorder of the blood vessels, mostly in the hands and feet. It causes the blood vessels to narrow when you are cold or feeling stressed. When this happens, blood can’t get to the surface of the skin and my hands and toes turn white and blue. When I leave the warm comfort of my quilt I have about 10 minutes until my hands are so cold and painful I can’t use them anymore, even with gloves on. My toes are doing fine out here, they can stay warm in their socks, but the cold mornings are a struggle for my hands. Thinking about it, maybe I should take my tent stakes out with my toes? Shared pain is half the pain, right? 😉 I tried to get moving as quickly as possible to get warm. The foggy landscape was nothing that I had seen before. A beautiful meadow and cows. I love cows! After about an hour Eagle Rock arose from the fog. So majestic! As a true yoga teacher, I had to do a yoga pose on it, obviously Eagle pose, Garudasana, king of the birds. The coldness was quickly forgotten and the adrenaline of balancing on the huge rock in the wind made my blood circulation run smooth again.
Rattlesnake & Cowboy Camping
My first rattlesnake encounter happened this week! It was a tiny bit scary. A huge rattlesnake wanted to cross the trail right at the moment that a couple of hikers and I wanted to cross. Monkey hands walked in front, he didn’t even see the snake coming and I guess the snake was rattled (hehe) by us. It curled itself and started making that eerie noise. Now what? We waited, B and I still had to pass the snake. The problem was that on one side of the trail there was a ravine and on the other side rocks and a steep hill, so it wasn’t so easy to go around the big boy. We waited for a few minutes but the snake didn’t move. We also didn’t want to push the snake since it looked like he wasn’t in a great mood, still coiled up. B and I decided to climb into the bush and over the steep hill around the snake. The snake stayed put and we scurried off. That night was my first 23-mile hike and I was so tired I cowboy camped without even thinking about snakes. That’s the beauty of being out here, you learn how to live with everything around you. A snake would never just attack, they will only do this when feeling in danger. So many shooting stars that night. This is the life!
Welcome to America baby!
‘Do you want a refill on that?’ The waitress at Paradise Valley Café asked me. A refill? On this already huge coke? I thought. ‘Sure,’ was my reply. Back home you never get free refills. The waitresses saw my puzzled face and said, ‘Welcome to America, baby!’ A cold coke never tasted better after the last long, hot stretch. The (vegan) burger & fries were just like everyone exclaimed: amazing! From the cafe, we got a ride to Idyllwild which I liked way better than Julian. The smell of the pine trees! The Keeper (trail name, very fitting) found a cute little cabin on Airbnb so our little trail family had a home. Being in a supermarket again was overwhelming, so many choices!
From the Scorching Heat to Snow and Ice
After a Zero day (no miles) in Idyllwild, I left the desert floor to enter the first sky island; the San Jacinto mountains. What a change of scenery! What a climb! Although there was a hazardous wind warning we decided to go but stick together, if one of us didn’t trust it we would turn around. And boy the wind was blowing! But it was still doable. The first night we cowboy camped on the mountain, just sheltered enough from the wind. No tent could stay put in these winds! Epic sunset! The next morning the climb continued to the peak of Sant Jacinto. The peak is not part of the official PCT, but since we were so close, I didn’t want to miss it. We slept in the emergency cabin at the top of the mountain after reaching the summit, the wind howling around the cabin. What a couple of days! The views! High above the clouds. And after the summit? Back to the desert floor again.
It’s the People
The morning on top of the mountain was cold. So cold my hands were useless. I needed help getting my backpack on since I couldn’t close the buckles. Also, hand warmers didn’t help which was a big disappointment. When I started the hike down I needed to filter water for the next dry stretch of 30 km but the thought of putting my hands in the ice-cold water almost made me cry. When I reached the waterfall, my friends were there and wordlessly started filling my water bottles! So sweet! I’m learning that asking for help is ok and I’m not a burden to the rest. I’m learning and growing out here. Also in awe of the people around me. This hiking community is the best!
Longest Day Yet
Descending San Jacinto, from 3400 meters to 300 meters in one day, was tough. I passed the 200-mile marker! Especially the last miles were hard. I would see rocks and warned myself not to trip over them, ending up tripping anyway. But I had to get to the next water source. When I arrived there I was exhausted yet feeling invincible. Miso and I couldn’t stop laughing about how tired we looked. Turned out to be the longest day on trail so far. Twenty-five miles (40 km!) Am I getting stronger or am I foolish? I will find out tomorrow! Too tired to pitch our tents, we decided to cowboy camp. The sand was still warm when we made our beds. The sun was setting. Miso put on a song and it looked like the red lights of the windmills ahead blinked in sync with the music. What a day! When I woke up in the middle of the night to pee the bright half-moon cast a shade when I squatted down. Oh wonderful world! And if I’m still able to squat, my legs will be fine tomorrow! 😉
Until the next one beautiful people! Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions. Have a wonderful weekend!
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