Monday, January 13, 2014

Cats, Cuts, and Scissors Crossing

Scissors Crossing Day Hike
Mileage: 10
Mandie's blog entry for this hike

Names have been omitted to protect the innocent.

The day started out normally with me driving over to Mandie's to pick her up so we could run some errands and go hiking. I sat on her bed listening to music on her phone while waiting for her to finish getting ready. I noticed her phone needed to be charged, so I started to get up to plug it in. As I was standing up I stepped on one of her cat's tail. This caused the cat to scream which scared her other cat. I thought nothing of it really and continued over to her phone charger. The next thing I know, I have a scared cat latched onto my leg digging his teeth and claws into my calf. I knew this wasn't an act of retaliation, since it wasn't the cat who's tail I stepped on, wrapped around my leg.

After finally getting out of the grips of this cat, I fell to my knees in pain. If you have never been scratched by a cat, there is usually a sharp burning pain that goes away fairly quickly. At least in my experience that's how it goes. This pain did not seem to go away very quickly. Wiping the tears from my eyes, I looked down at my leg and saw blood dripping from many, multiple, wounds onto her carpet. Mandie grabbed a towel and began giving me first aid.

Upon inspection, I noticed that I had 360 degrees of feline inflicted lacerations...

Wrapping my ankle in some gauze, donning my gaiters, socks and shoes, we headed out to start our day.

We arrived at the trail head at about 1:30p. We were going to hike a section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) starting at mile 77 onto mile 82. A 10 mile out-and-back hike in the Anza Borrego Desert. It was a warm day and very dry, so it was good that we were starting out in the middle of the afternoon. :-P 

We began our ascent, moving slowly away from the desert floor. As we climbed I noticed that my right calf was very tight. I didn't think much of this, as the first mile or two of my hikes are usually met with tight muscles. We stop for a moment to catch our breath, drink some water, and so I could stretch my calf a little bit.

Trail off in the distance

The beautiful desert floor

Teddy Bear Cactus. Touch it, it is soft! (don't really touch it)

My leg was feeling better and we continued climbing up the switchbacks of this well graded trail.

Mandie cruising up a switchback
Lots of Mandies

Along the way we noticed several interesting geological features, like how the different slopes (I am sure there is a better word for those.) interlock with each other, the different colors of the rocks, and what water and fire can do to a mountain.

At the half way point, we stopped for a quick snack. It was getting late and with a two hour hike ahead of us and only an hour before the sun sets, we had to move with purpose.

Mandie taking a break, our trail behind her

Me being a goofball

With the sun setting at our backs we hiked in the soft warm glow. We took advantage of this light and took some beautiful, and silly, pictures of the area.

Mandie striking a pose

Trail back to the car

A silhouetted Mandie
Mandie pointing out the Death Star... she is a keeper

Soft warm glow

Top of a Barrel Cactus

A great hike and a beautiful evening. We can't wait to be back here in April when we do the entire PCT.

Google Earth has a bug where the mileage (x-axis) changes depending on the width of the window. We really did do 10 miles.
My leg... After the hike we went out to eat and I could barely walk into the restaurant and to and from the car.  My ankle just did not want to bend. When we got home and removed the bandages we noticed that my calf was swollen. We decided that I needed some antibiotics and headed off to the ER. The ER doc cleaned up the superficial wounds, updated my tetanus shot, and gave me some antibiotics. The next day we rested, it was still very difficult and painful for me to bend my ankle, and watched movies about how jacked-up Corporations are. Do not shop at Walmart!

Today, Monday, my ankle is even worse and I am off to my doctors to see what is up.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Making Tracks On The Tracks

This past Sunday, Mandie and I headed out to the Anza Borrego Desert to walk along the Carrizo Gorge Railway towards the Goat Canyon Trestle (GCT). Our plan was to walk along the tracks for an undetermined amount of miles but not all the way to the actual trestle. We were on the lookout for a mummified skeleton that another hiker had posted pictures of on Reddit.

If you are unfamiliar with the Goat Canyon Trestle it was completed in 1933. At 600 feet long and 200 feet high, it is the longest curved and one of the hightest wooden trestles in the world. It is worth checking out if you get the chance.

We headed East out of San Diego at around 9:30a and stopped in Alpine for some breakfast at Carl's Jr. and arrived in Jacumba at about 11:00a. If you take the Jacumba exit off the 8 fwy, make a couple of rights, and drive along a dirt road you will come to the DeAnza Springs Nudest Resort. The kind people at the resort will let you park your car, for a small fee, at the actual trail head rather than parking along the dirt road and making your hike a mile longer. They are really nice there and I don't mind helping the community a little bit. No, you do not need to be nude to park there.

As we walked away from the resort we came to our first set of old dilapidated trains.

From there we walked along the train tracks (which is illegal) towards the GCT. The journey takes you across several smaller wooden trestles which are pretty scary to walk across. The wood is dry and brittle, plus you can see exactly how far you would fall if things were to go bad. It is exciting and vertigo educing. There are also many tunnels of varying lengths that you must pass through. A headlamp is suggested.

Along our journey we came across some train cars that I had not ever seen before. Based on our super sleuthing skills, and reading the French signs posted in the cars, we determined that they were French train cars.

Off to the side of the tracks we spotted an old tunnel that appears to have collapsed. It was pitch black in there and very dusty, like a fine powder type of dust. Our headlamps did nothing to repel the darkness that this tunnel offered. It seemed to absorb the light from our headlamps rather than reflect it back. It was awesome in there and we want to go back there with brighter lights.

We finally came across the real goal of our hike, to see the mummified body of a baby big horn sheep. At least that is what we think it is. It looked even better in person than it did in the photos I saw. It was way cool looking but a little sad at the same time. It had a look on it's face like it died screaming in agony, but that could just be me anthropomorphizing.

I decided to poke it with a stick, cuz, well, what else ya going to do with it?

We finally decided to stop for a bite to eat in the sun, as the dark tunnels were very cold and damp. We both ate some tuna fish wrapped in some of the mummified skin (I am kidding) and ate some yummy fig bars.

We continued on for a little while longer so that we could hit double-digits in our mileage. A hike less than 10 miles just doesn't seem worth it anymore. :P Any hike, of any length, is a good hike. Hitting the 5 mile marker on our GPS we turned around and headed back to the car. The sun was setting, the shadows were getting longer, and the temp was dropping.

Isnt she a cutie

As we got closer to our car we the sun was just below the horizon, casting a pinkish band of light on the mountains across from it. This effect is knows as Alpenglow and it is one of my favorites parts of the day.

Back at the car, we headed home by way of a burrito shop. :) It was another great day hiking with mah baby.