There was no need to get up early today since we needed for businesses to be opened. The morning activities would include showers, laundry, grocery shopping and going to the post office to pick up our resupply boxes. We found the town to be very hiker friendly. Even the laundromat had loaner clothes that one could wear while washing their trail clothes. Don went to the post office to get our boxes and while I organized the food, he did the laundry. A trip around the town led us to try the pastries at the bakery. We were not disappointed. We had originally planned to spend another night here, but with all the errands finished and the temperature dropping some we decided to pack up and head back on the trail. During the day we had met several hikers. One women had just gotten the trail name of Spikes. She was quite excited. Our packs were back to being full so we meandered up the trail Grey Squirrels with big bush tails entertained us as they ran in front of us.
As the sun set, the temperature quickly dropped below freezing. We found a site that needed a bit of work, but soon our tent was up. We put all our layers on and headed to bed, thankful to be back on the trail.
Miles hiked 7
It was a cold morning as we packed up . The ground around us was frozen. We took a short hike to Deer Springs where we needed to fill our water bottles. It would be 20 miles before there would again be water. We had carried micro spikes for this section of trail, but we were able to avoid the icy section that would have required them. Several weeks earlier they would have been needed. It was a beautiful section of trail with Mountain San Jacinto often in view.
Then the realities of the trail set in. Since this was a horse graded section, the trail made huge zig zags. Several times as we looked down the mountain and could see trails, we thought that there was no way that could be the trail we were on. It was and we spent many hours descending.
An encouraging sign reminded us that we were making progress!
Just as the sun was setting, we made it to the bottom. A desert water utility has put in a water faucet for hikers. It was much appreciated. Several hikers were here, most of them had taken two days to do the descent. Not a bad idea, but we were here and it felt good to go to bed. A little later we heard voices around our tent and were greeted by Spikes and A to Z. They had left yesterday in the evening as well and were also glad to be done with that stretch of trail.
Miles hiked 22
We were up by 4:30 and once again heading down the trail by flashlight. We are in the area of wind turbines and already the wind was blowing. Today we hope to spend the afternoon at the Whitewater Wilderness Preserve. We have been there several times before and even hiked parts of the PCT near there several years ago. It is quite the oasis with running water and shade trees. It will be a perfect spot to hang during the hotter parts of the day. But first we have to cross under Interstate 10.
Upon leaving the interstate, we shortly see this sign.
Soon we were at the picnic area and found a nice shaded area to take a break.
The afternoon passed quickly and soon it was time to head back out again. We passed this rock
In less than a mile we saw A to Z and Spikes taking a break by the whitewater river. Spikes said,"glad to see you, we thought that something might have happened to you" She then explained that after we had left in the morning several police cars and a fire truck came to where we all had camped last night. They talked to three different tents and asked about an older couple who were in distress. The only older couple they knew were us and they only knew us by our trail names Peter Pan and Bigfoot. They doubted that we were in distress since we had already left but....When the police got the same response from all 3 tents they were heard saying. "that must be them..call the helicopter" Thankfully it was not us, we did hear later that a helicopter had rescued an older man from the mountain with kidney stones. It would have been fun to read the rescue report about a couple called Peter Pan and Bigfoot.
We were looking forward to hiking this section of trail, because we had hiked it previously when we spent time here with Don's parents. We had climbed to the top of a ridge and looked down to a valley. Later today we would get to discover where this trail went. Today we had hiked down to the Whitewater valley, now we had to climb out of the valley over a ridge and down to Mission Creek. At the top of the ridge a tiny desert hare tried his best to blend in to the bush. It did a pretty good job.
Today was going to be another big elevation gain. This has been a pattern, up and down. We start out early hoping to get some miles done before the sun gets overhead. We are in luck as the sun's rays don't hit till 10. It is a change of pace crossing mission creek several times as we walk up the valley. We even walk by some cattails.
Miles hiked 17
We stayed in bed a little longer than usual, in fact we even took our tent down when it was light. We wanted to make sure that all of the tent stakes had stayed in during the wind storm. All were found and we headed towards Big Bear.