Total Miles: 210.8
The day began just before sunrise at 5am, hoping to finish the marathon descent from Mt. San Jacinto and cross the 5 miles of desert before the heat of the day set in. As much as I've never been a morning person (Emily can attest), I love the morning light in the moments that both precede and follow sunrise.
There's a sort of romance to how the first rays of light expose the full pallete of colors in a landscape that are otherwise hidden in the bright light of day.
We hit another milestone today—200 trail miles—and I also finally saw my first adult rattlesnake. XC jumped back a few feet in front of me as soon as we heard the loud rattle. We let it meander across the trail, waiting for it to move along but it instead coiled into a strike posture just next to the trail before puffing itself up and baring its fangs. A few tense moments later, we were able to tiptoe around it.
It seemed like we would never reach the desert floor, with switchback after switchback and the occasional needless traverse with little to no elevation loss.
But at last we made it to the Snow Canyon water faucet, another 20-mile waterless stretch finally behind us.
After crossing the windswept desert floor, we arrived at Ziggy & The Bear's hostel just after noon where a resupply package and a detour awaited. Like the trail closure south of Idyllwild, another large closure lies before us due to the Lake fire that burned just north of Whitewater Preserve in 2015. Unlike the Idyllwild closure, however, there's no way to walk around the closure without linking together 30+ miles of walking along busy highways. Fortunately, Ziggy & The Bear have arranged a schedule of shuttles to take hikers west to San Bernardino where we're now aboard a bus with 20 other hikers to the town of Big Bear, just north of the trail closure. It hurts to miss a 50-mile section of trail and to interrupt the continuous walk from border to border, but it's the only good option in this case and all of us are in the same boat. It also feels strange to be back in town, even for just a night, only two days after leaving Idyllwild. I'm itching to spend a longer uninterrupted stretch out on the trail and the next 100 miles to Wrightwood will give me just that.