Hours on Trail: 8.5
Mile Marker: 336
When we awoke this morning I was ready to go. I must’ve slept well last night because I beat Keith out of the sleeping bag, tent, and I finished packing my pack before he did. It was a chilly morning, but warmer than the past few mornings. A cool wind stayed with us all day and I kept my warm long sleeve on almost until the afternoon. We started out the morning walking over hills strewn with wild flowers. In the valley to our right were farm houses and cows. We moo-ed at them from far away and laughed as we remembered our childhood cow memories.
Keith’s foot was bothering him this morning, so we took the morning slow and stopped frequently. It happened to be a very quaint morning and the slower pace matched the mood of our surroundings. At second breakfast, I took some weight out of his pack and placed it in mine. I hoped this would at least lessen the impact of his feet on the ground in some format. At the very least it certainly boosted his morale which helped us both.
We weaved in and out and over the grassy hills, headed towards taller mountains. We eventually headed down and walked through a reservoir work yard. The trail met up and followed a paved road passed more buildings with offices and such for the reservoir. You walk through some interesting places on this trail. While I certainly knew we’d have nice views of mountains and valleys, I never expected crossing over semi-private property. When we resumed walking on the trail, we took a short break and Keith took his weight back. His foot felt 100% better and he was confident in how the rest of the day would go. I on the other hand battled a batch of sneezes. All the wild flowers we had been passing through so far began to enact my allergy mode. We had seen some flowers yesterday so I had made sure to take some medication this morning but it seemed I was in for an interesting day.
After our quick break we headed straight over a ridge before dropping down to the man-made lake. The cool breeze turned instantly into a cooler wind off the lake. We welcomed the cool and damper air the lake created. We followed the lake for a few hours, walking along it’s perimeter. I had thrown my hair up into a bun and let my face get some sun for the first time this trip. Without my hat and sun gloves on, it felt like a very freeing day. With the wind on our faces and the sun on our backs, we enjoyed the view of the lake and surrounding flowers. A large batch of sneezes met me and I paused from walking to handle them. It’s incredibly hard for me to sneeze so violently and still walk well.
Around 11am we arrived at one of the Day Use areas near the lake. We stopped at a picnic table under some trees for lunch. I threw my puffy on immediately, knowing I’d be chilly from not moving soon. We ate and Keith shook up some coffee for us as well. We also did some quick research of the land we were about to enter. Originally we were going to camp at mile 336, but given we were having such a good day we wanted to see if there were options further down the trail. We looked at the terrain and comments from previous hikers. Given the wind and cold weather we decided to stay with the original plan for camp in the evening.
We also looked up the weather report. Tomorrow it is to rain and possibly snow tomorrow night. We were going to head up into the mountains tomorrow evening, but given the wind and snow possibilities, we discussed other back up plans. While we don’t mind the snow, we do mind the wind and all camp spots near our original plan seemed to be rather exposed. Reluctantly we made a back up plan of 11 miles total for tomorrow. It’s hard for us to plan lower mileage days when we’re both feeling really good. But you must do what you think is right.
After a long nice lunch break, we headed back out on trail. Crossing an on-ramp for the nearby highway, we met up with the trail. Heading up into the hills again, we watched the stormy and gloomy clouds pass over the ridge line to our left. They reminded us of Oregon and we both reminisced of PA thunderstorms and Oregon rain. The desert makes you think a lot about rain. Lizards scurried under our feet and into bushes of wild flowers. I sneezed the whole way up our ascent of the ridge. At the top we had a beautiful view of the valley we had climbed and of the one we were about to descend into. I sneezed some more and we laughed and joked while heading down the trail.
Before too long we arrived at a small creek where we planned to get water. We hopped up the creek and dropped our packs. While I got water Keith made sure there wasn’t a wind advisory for the night. The wind seemed to have picked up and it’s always nice to have some idea of the weather. With no advisory we finished getting water and headed back to the trail. The last 3 miles of the day flew by and before we knew it, we made it to camp.
We dropped our packs off trail a ways and Keith ran around looking for a better spot. He found one behind some bushes which would block most of the wind of the evening. Off in the distance train horns blow alerting the area of their existence. We are only a handful of miles from Hwy 15 and a very used rail road which runs parallel to the highway for a while. We’ve also seen multiple Southwest Airlines planes fly over head, taking off from LA and headed to one of the southern states. We took our time setting up and eating dinner. With all the extra time in the evening, we also made some Sleepy Time Tea. I sneezed the whole way through, but the tea gave some fake sense of relief.
Tomorrow we head down to Cajon Pass and the famed McDonald’s near the trail. While neither of us are huge fans of the fast food place, we do like fries, free WiFi, and outlets for charging. So, we plan to make a stop there tomorrow morning before heading into the foothills of the mountains which will greet us the day after. I look forward to being back in higher elevation and maybe even less sneezes.