Mile 207 to 216.8
I would like to start this post with a great big birthday wish to my nephew Jordan. Happy Birthday Jordan!
We left the hotel at 7 am, swinging by 7-11 for some additional snacks and coffee. Mandie's dad dropped us off exactly where he picked us up like we asked him to do. It is important for Mandie and I to leave a continuous path of footsteps from Campo, CA to Manning Park, BC. No hitch hiking around.
After finishing our coffee and getting our snacks packed up we hit the trail to cross the desert floor. A 3 mile walk to Ziggy and the Bear's house; our first real Trail Angel's house. We started off on a paved road which turned into a dirt trail and soon after it turned into a wash. The wash was sandy and very hard to walk through and was aggravating Mandie's feet. She even tried walking without shoes on to see if that would help.
As you may know, she has had issue with her feet from day one and it is starting to wear thin on her. She is in pain, of course, but is also feeling very frustrated with the whole foot pain thing. I don't blame her one bit for feeling the way she does. She still pushes on...
Close to a mile from our destination we would have to go under the I-10 freeway. Nothing spectacular but there was some Trail Magic waiting for us in the form of cold water and bananas. Mandie and I took a moment in the shade to rest and empty the sand out of our shoes. On the way out we grabbed a couple of bananas to have with our peanut butter and hamburger buns that we got at 7-11.
Once we figured out where Ziggy and the Bear's house was we walked through their side gate and were greeted by close to 10 other hikers and of course Ziggy and the Bear. A very nice older couple that helps us hikers get through the desert section. Pills was there as well as Mighty Mouse and her husband Tom Cat and a few other hikers that we met the other day.
When you get to Ziggy and the Bear's you are first offered a Gatorade and then they give you the lay of the land. Shower is over there, laundry facility is here, sodas are in this cooler, fresh fruit in that one, etc. At 1 pm they do a Burger King run for us hikers. They have it down to a science by having us write our orders on BK bags, total them, and place our monies in the bag. He then takes the bags to BK, drops them off while he goes to the Post Office to get hiker boxes, and returns to get the food. It is really a well oiled machine there and their gracious hospitality is off the charts.
After filling our bellies and going through our resupply boxes that we mailed there (thank you mom for the yummy snacks) we laid down in the shade and waited for it to cool down. It was way too hot to go out and hike.
We did some research while we were there with free WiFi and the snake we saw the other day was not a Rosy Boa, but was a Gopher snake. Reader Patrick F. also pointed this out. Thank you Patrick.
At 5 pm we donned our gear and headed back to the trail. Our packs were incredibly heavy as we were carrying 4 days of food to get us to Big Bear so we moved at a snail's pace. When ya move that slow you have time to think and you have time to look around. Mandie spotted on the ground a small animal skull of some kind. There was too much of it missing for us to figure out what it was from. We would find a couple other jaw bones further up the trail. So cool.
As we continued to walk slowly I had a thought that Mandie and I should try swapping shoes to see if my shoes would alleviate her foot pain. A few minutes up the road was a place where we could sit and do the exchange. This place just so happened to be the beginning of a new section for us, Section C. More on Sections later. We sat on a rock and swapped foot wear. Mandie took my Trail Runners (tennis shoes) and I took her hiking boot. Her big as a boat and 10 pound weighing shoes. :P I tease but I was more than happy to take her shoes if it allowed us to figure out her foot issues. It actually did seem to help and she is having her brother send her Trail Runner shoes to Big Bear. Her fourth pair of shoes this trip.
With her feet feeling a bit better we were able to pick up the pace a bit more, our heavy packs still slowed us down. A couple miles later we would pass a power station for Mesa Wind Farm; they collect the power generated by the wind turbines. Shortly after passing the power station the trail went up and up at a very steep incline. We moved even slower now. It was by far the hardest and steepest section of the trail we have encountered so far. It took every bit of energy and strength I had to get up this bad boy, Mandie too.
We finally reached the top and we were both exhausted. Because we had been moving so slow it was starting to get dark and the wind had picked up. Both of us have night hiked before so we weren't terribly worried about it. We descended the back side of this 'wall' as quickly as we could but by the time we reached the bottom we had to break out our head lamps. The wind had picked up even more and was blowing pretty strong now.
My legs are toast by now and I really want to set up the tent and call it a night. We look around for a suitable tent site but find none. Having no other choice we push on. The longer we push on the darker it gets and the stronger the wind gets. We are now hiking in pitch black with only our headlamps illuminating the path. We come across what looks like a place, and we set up the tent. There is a Buckthorn bush to one side and the trail on the other.
We take out the Tyvek ground cloth and attempt to get that laid on the ground as best we can, fighting the wind every step. We find some rock to plant it to the ground and break out the tent. We fight the wind some more trying to set up the tent, which is acting more like a sail, and eventually have to call it quits. Feeling very tired and defeated, we throw everything into our backpacks and decide to push on. We know there is a safe place to camp 3 miles away, Whitewater Preserve, if we can only get there.
The more we walk, the worse the trail gets. We reach a point where we are walking with virtually a wall on one side of us and a cliff on the other side. We decide this is way too dangerous and we have already lost the trail twice. We happen to come across a place where the tent will fit but it is covered in brush and cow patties. Whatever, it will work.
By the time we get the tent set up and get cozy it is getting close to 10 pm. Way late by hiker standards. We have a bite to eat and call it a night. Despite the heavy winds and slanted tent site it was probably the best night sleep I have had on the trail.
It is always an adventure out here.
Sections: The PCT is broken into sections, California has sections A-R. Oregon has sections A-G. Washington is broken into sections A-E. I do not know off the top of my head how many miles are in each section or if it is divided evenly.