Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Willow Spring - (5/26/2014)

Mile 602.3 to 620.7 + 1.6 mile alternate to Willow Spring
19.9 miles

We got an early start this morning in an effort to get a bunch of miles in before it got too hot. We slept amongst a half-dozen other hikers and were the first to break camp. 

It was another beautiful, crisp, and cool morning. We were treated to a trail that seemed to be more direct than usual, and it was shaded by a forest of pine trees. It was a perfect trail and a great morning to be out in nature. 

Six miles after starting we came to Landers Meadow CG. Both Mandie and I thought that it was a developed CG, where we would find tons of people celebrating Memorial Day weekend. With people comes food, and we thought that maybe we could yogi some food or drinks from them. The CG turned out to be the complete opposite of what we thought, there wasn't even a pit toilet or a trash can. Psssshh! There was a natural spring, and I suppose that was good enough. As we filtered our water the usual stuff happened, we ate, rested our feet, and other hikers showed up to do the same thing. 

The next section of the trail would be a dry stretch, it would be 14 miles before we would reach another water source. The first few miles of this section turned out to be beautiful. It was a burned out area that was recovering quite well. There was meadows of purple, yellow, and white flowers all around and the smell of grape, artificial grape flavor actually, was in the air and huge boulders dotted the mountain side. It was one of the prettiest parts of the trail we had been on thus far and got us all excited for the Sierra. 

Those beautiful meadows of flowers soon ended and we were back in the desert traversing the side of a mountain in the blazing hot sun. We would eventually reach the Kelso Road water cache. There was not only a huge supply of water there but there was also two ice chests full of soda and fruit drinks. It was a wonderful surprise and at just the right time. 

We found some shade under some Joshua Trees, drank a couple of sodas and headed off down the trail. It was early afternoon by now and the sun was blazing hot. We got a mile and a half down the trail and just couldn't take the heat anymore so we found another grove of trees to hide out in. We stayed there for an hour or two until it cooled down enough to go back out into the sun. 

I must say that even though it was hot, killing part of the afternoon laying in the shade, staring at the sky trying to find shapes in the clouds is not a bad way to spend the afternoon. 

I'm not sure if it had cooled down enough to get back on the trail or if we just got restless but we decided to head back out. We only had 2.5 miles to do before we would have to take a side trail to water, Willow Spring. Of course the better part of those 2.5 miles was uphill. 

We eventually hit the side 'trail', it was more like a wash, to the water source. The wash was pretty easy hiking until we came upon some boulders and then a couple of small dried up waterfalls that we had to traverse down. That section, the boulder hopping, reminded me a lot of hiking in the Anza Borrego Desert, especially to the Goat Canyon Trestle. Because of that, Mandie and I were comfortable with the terrain and cruised down it with ease.  

A short time later we arrived at the spring where we found a bunch of other hikers that had passed us throughout the day. While I got us water Mandie set up the tent. She had a difficult time getting a couple stakes into the ground, even breaking one, so we had to use our trekking poles to pitch the tent.

Our tent is set up to use trekking poles instead of stakes and this was our first time doing so. It was kind of awkward and I could think of better ways of attaching the trekking poles than how the manf. has done it. I only mention that because some readers have asked me about. 

We are low on food, so there wasn't much of a dinner tonight, just a tuna wrap. It is a beautiful, clear evening so we are leaving the tent vestibules open so we can stare at all the stars. 

Tomorrow we start our longest dry section yet, 30 miles without a natural water source. Wooo!!!