Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Beautiful Fuller Ridge - Day 19 (4/23/2014)

Day 19
Mile 190.6 to mile 207
16.4 miles

We passed the 200 mile marker today. Woohoo for us!!!

The winds didn't let up very much last night but that didn't stop me from getting some sleep. Neither did the bitter cold. It did make it that much more difficult to get up in the morning though. Like all jobs, yes hiking to Canada is my job now, sometimes we have to do things we don't want to do. 

With coffee and breakfast in our bellies we hit the trail close to 7 am. We left Pills, what I am calling Pillsbury now, at camp to finish packing up. Everybody else that was there when we went to bed was already gone, and we wouldn't see them again today. 

We had heard a lot about Fuller Ridge, which is what we hiked down today. We heard that is was this gnarly, brutal, knee crushing, 19 mile down hill section of the PCT. With this information in mind, we were expecting the worst. 

Close to 15 minutes after hiking out of camp we were greeted with spectacular views of Cabazon and San Gorgonio Mountain. Clouds were partially filling the sky, the sun was coming up, it was amazing. I took picture after picture of the view and it got more and more amazing around every corner. 

I had to stop soon after to dig a cat hole. I guess the beautiful views were too much form my tummy. It was then that Pills was able to catch up with us and she stopped to chat with Mandie. I returned shortly after and joined the conversation. Pills then headed off while I packed up my stuff. 

As Mandie and I hiked down the mountain the spectacular views continued. The terrain was also starting to change from mountain pine trees to desert cacti. We were no longer walking on soft pine needles and dark brown dirt but instead on rocks and gray colored pebbles. The desert was fast approaching. 

It seems that all things in the desert are sharp and out to get you. Every animal, tree, or brush seems to have spikes or thorns on it, this includes the Buckthorn plant. The Buckthorn plant has huge thorns on it, over an inch long, and sharp. The trail was over grown with this plant and we were forced to walk the gauntlet. Luckily, doing our best Matrix moves, we escaped with only superficial wounds to our legs and hands. 

We eventually caught back up with Pills and we all hiked together for the rest of the day. Pills is an excellent athlete, having done several triathlons, a 50-mile race, and a 100-mile race. Her feet and shins were really hurting her today which says something about how demanding the trail is. It also explains why we were able to catch her. :P

Along our mountain decent we saw some amazing creatures. The first one we saw wasn't alive -- a dead bird laying on the side of the trail. No idea how it died. The next critter we came upon was a nice sized horned lizard. I of course tried to catch it and of course failed. Next was a beautiful rattle snake that Pills was fortunate enough to spot as she was leading us down the mountain. The snake slithered under a rock as fast as it could. I  was able to get a couple of pictures of him before he did though. Finally, while Mandie was in the lead she almost stepped on what we think is a Rosy Boa snake. It was long, slow, did not have a diamond shaped head, and had beautiful markings on it. I wasn't able to get a picture of its head but I did get a couple pictures of its body. We also saw a lot of lizards of all shapes, sizes, and colors. There are some really huge lizards out here!

We finally reached the bottom of the mountain 9.5 hours and many many miles later. We were all hot, tired, in pain, and thirsty when we got there. We all had been rationing our water since the afternoon before where we were able to fill up last.  Lucky for us, the water district has set up a water fountain at the trail head for us thirsty hikers. 

We had discussed going an extra few miles to a Trail Angels house in Cabazon to relax and pick up our resupply box but neither of us really wanted to do more miles. We were just about to find a place to camp when Mandie decided to text her dad and see where he was and what he was up to. He just so happened to be in Cabazon and agreed to come pick us up. Twenty minutes later Mandie and I were being whisked off to Palm Springs and being put up in the Hard Rock Hotel. He even treated us to dinner. It was an awesome surprise and we thank you very very much Trail Angel Carl. 

I am in an air conditioned room laying on a plush bed writing this thinking life couldn't be better. This is livin!  :D

Our bodies/muscles/feet seem to have done much better today. Neither of us were in too much pain today and we hope this is the start of our bodies starting to gel.