Day 10 - 21 miles
214 Total miles
What a morning! I was up and ready to go by 5:15am when I noticed a lot of ants in the dawn twilight marching all over my bag. They’d been climbing into my used bean can so I spend ten minutes getting rid of them only to stop 15 minutes later to still find them crawling all over myself. After further investigation I find them still inside my main bag and eating my biscuits!! I manage to save my food by picking them off one by one and by 6am I’d only done a mile. So much for getting an early start before the sun rose.
I was heading up hill and my legs were already complaining so I turn around and go up backwards and fall over after a few steps….. I walk pass a trio of hikers who night hiked last night. We briefly say hello as I plow on. Then I arrive into a lush green valley with the hills all rippling into each other which reminds me of England. Green grass is everywhere and it seems some how cooler.
I weave in and out, up and down and then around out into the sun light. I finally come to the river which was named White-water River. I have a little wash, washed my socks, brushed my hair and teeth and drink up. It's so hot by 8am but I need to push on and ascend the 2000ft hill before midday. There is another river or rather a stream on the other side. I head off again and end up getting really lost... I had hoped to tackle the hottest part of the day laying down in the shade but I'm falling behind on time. Walking down the dry river bed, I pass driftwood and try to follow the misleading footprints of previous hikers. I was following the GPS on my English phone but to give finally dies.
Annoyingly that had my water report on it and my Half-mile location ap. I’ve completely lost the trail now and I've walk too far into the dry shade less canyon. I consult my guide book but can’t find my way back on to the path. It’s been completely washed away. Cairns left behind by hikers dwindle and fade away. I drink my water and stare at the crumbling walls of the valley around me. No obvious route are visible. I follow the edge of the lower canyon but have no luck. I check my book again and compass. It says to head NE and that ends up kind of in the right direction but it stop short. I sit in the shade of the valley walls and it’s already 11am, my decent start of the day now useless. I zone out and watch heat lines wiggle over the desert floor. Then I suddenly see movement. A lone tree sprouting branches sits about 150meters away from me and has someone using the shade to their advantage. I immediately set off in his direction. I climb over rocks and jump down deeply into the sinking sand, it fills my trainers but I keep going. I see he has a little encampment. I get closer and he still doesn't hear me. He has a tent set up and make-shift table made from drift wood. Pans and bottles of water lay around him. I’m within 8 meters and he is still in his own little world.
“Hello “ I utter speaking first and trying not to alarm him out here. He flinches and recoils at my words and reaches to his chest. He recovered quickly but I bet his heart is still beating furiously not expecting company all the way out here.
“Where did you come from?”
I explain my problem, pointing at my book and he gives me two options to get out the canyon.
"If you head to the left of that hill you can follow a path out of the valley which joins up with the PCT or"
He points away from us towards a white triangle small cliff with a black dot in it.
“That black dot is a ravens nest” he says “get to there and head over the right side of it"
He then explains he’s been here for about 4 days which he likes to do from time to time. He has an alcove of stoves and even a bed of grass-turf under his tent. I thank him again and rush off in search of the PCT. It's a climb when I get there and its hard to do down in the peak of heat. I take several breaks up the hill, sweating profusely and feel a tad faint. Step by step I arrive at the top - a lot happier. I spot an acceptable shady patch and chill under it. I drink 1.5litres and read the guidebook. Then I hear footsteps and see one of the night hiker trio. His name is Joyce and he’s from Korea. We chat for a bit and it turns out he’s lost his phone and walked back 3 miles for it which no luck.
I catch up in my journal and debate heading out into the heat to reach the water source. The annoying flies buzz around, climbing over everything. I give in and roll out. It’s 1:30 pm and the heat is as gruelling as ever. Luckily I'm going down hill - gradually. Amazingly I get a data signal and talk to Joe and quickly download the Half Mile ap and the water report to my American phone. The water is about 2miles away so I press on and get there at 3ish. I strip down to my underwear and rinse everything with water taken from the stream. It’s dry within ten minutes. After downing a litre, I refill and hike out. I want to gain 11 miles due to my fail earlier. I then meet Joyce about 15 meters from where I'd been sitting. He is surrounded by the contents of his pack and cooking a meal. We have a quick chat and I hike on. The next part is a slow ascent which are sometimes worse than just ascending it in a steeper manner. I want to get another ten miles done before night fall. Meaning that I can hopefully make it to Big bear city tomorrow. I’m really short on food so have to ration it.
It is a hard slog over rocks and in deep sand. I cross back and forth over the river and pass bee laden bushes. I stop a few times to force water into me and eat a bit then it gets to 8:30pm and I begin to hike by the moon. Luckily it’s full and illuminates everything. I hit the 11 miles mark and call it a night. I camp beside the trail, finally finding the a part with no bushes in the way. I put up my inner tent, roll out my sleeping bag and I’m asleep within minutes. The moon still blanketing everything it touches in whiteness.