Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Brother, A Friend, and A Rattling End - Day 11 (4/15/2014)

Day 11
Mile 109.5 to mile 114.7
5.2 miles

We are back on the trail!!!

This morning we woke up in our hotel room and went down the hall for a Continental breakfast. I don't mind making tent coffee but it was nice to get a break from it. After breakfast we showered and packed up our belongings. Eli, Mandie's brother, and Carlos, a close friend, were on their way to take us back to the trail. 

When they arrived we all had a big group hug at the door. They came in for a bit while we finished packing.  Once out the door we headed off to Sports Chalet for some insoles and new shoes for Mandie. For those keeping count this is Mandie's third pair of shoes since hitting the trail. This new pair is a larger and wider version of her previous pair. Her shoes are massive now. :-)

After Sports Chalet we grabbed a bite to eat at 5 Guys Burger and then headed on over to CVS to pick up some last minute supplies before driving back to the trail. 

When we got back to Warner Springs we had to stop off at the Post Office to pick up a resupply box before being dropped off at the trailhead. Mandie and I said our goodbyes and watched the boys drive off. 

Mandie, Josh, Carlos and Eli, Warner Springs
I know it was a great moral boost for Mandie to get to see her brother and I know Eli missed her too. I think the visit will help her with her mental game while out on the trail. I had to say my goodbyes a couple weeks before we left on this journey, and it sucked, so it makes sense that she would be having a difficult time now. I don't blame her one bit. 

It was about 3p by the time we started hiking. The trail started with a nice level walk through a huge meadow before crossing the Hwy 79. Shortly after crossing the road the trail started to climb up the foothills of the Santa Rosa Mountains (I think that is what they are called. I will have to fact check that.) 

I was having a hard time today, emotionally and physically. I felt very quiet and lonely today for some reason. My feet were still hurting, despite the new insoles (black Superfeet) and my calves were tight from being off the trail. For those reasons I had my head down for most of the hike, only looking a couple of steps in front of me.

I was suddenly awoken from my zombie-like hiking style by the sound of a rattle snake shaking its tail. Because I had my head and eyes down I had no idea where it was. I wasn't sure if I had passed it already and should keep moving forward or if it was in front of me and I should back up. It took a while for me to locate the snake with my eyes even though I could clearly hear it. It was on the hillside next to me about 4 feet away. I quickly backed up and busted out my camera as quickly as I could. By the time I had the camera ready it was already slithering off into the bushes and I was only able to catch the tail end of it. It was very exciting and our first rattler for the trip. I am going to try and be more alert from now on. 

We gathered our wits and hiked the last 1.2 miles to a water source where we would also camp. The tent site is under two beautiful oak trees next to a slow moving brook. Unfortunately, the area is also covered in Poison Oak. So, we have to be careful where we walk and put our hands. Having had Poison Oak before, I think I am less worried about it than Mandie is. That doesn't mean I want to get it mind you. 

We are now laying in our tent listening to the sound of frogs, crickets, and other insects making the sounds that they do. It is wonderfully calming and makes me happy to be out here. We can also hear the sound of little things falling on our tent from the oak tree above but we are just going to ignore those sounds and hope nothing gets in the tent. :)