October 7, 2017
RV Camp – Sweet Desert Camp
We’re up around 6am and proceed to speak very, very loud. Ina nor I are morning people but hell when your camping neighbours keep you up into the wee hours of night/morning with music/talking/being what else can you do but try to wake them up in the morning while you get your shit together to walk. Makes me think back to the Appalachian Trail in 2015 when my hiking buddies Yoyo, Tweet and I had the weirdest night ever with comings and goings and doggies barking all night long. We woke our early usual hour and before leaving, YoYo barked at the dog outside the tent. Loudly. It was so fucking funny. Take that, loud people and barking dogs. I’m sure none of these peeps are bad but come on folks…show a little respect to the rest of the humans out there for a camping/sleeping experience.
Ina was up most of the night not so much due to the noise as much as worry. Sophie the Wonder Doggie was really struggling on the trail and she came to the conclusion sometime in the night that (a) she needs to accept her Super Dog can’t do the big long day after day hikes anymore and (b) their hike is over. I’m grateful to have enjoyed two and a half days on trail with these two. Gonna miss my buddy Ina.
Walking into the rising sun I have trail magic on my mind. Not that I am short of food but I know, yes, I know for certain in ten miles there is food, drinks, water, trash bags…all from my Trail Angel friends JD and Cherokee. They have left a car and have Ina driving them to 16 trail miles south, which they will NOBO back to the car they left. Impressive considering they both work ad ton and hike for fun when they can, knocking out these little sections of the PCT adding up to over 700 miles thus far. I love these two. Ina will go back to the RV camp, hang with Sophie then get dropped off in Wrightwood that night when they are heading home.
I get to carry less water and look forward to mid-morning drinks at the trail magic tree. Yippee. I cruise along feeling light and free and so happy to roam into the Deep Creek Canyon where the hot springs are. Unfortunately, when I do enter the canyon, I begin to see more graffiti than I’ve seen anywhere on this trail. It has been trashed by people doing gawd knows what. Spray paint on rocks, garbage, glass…it is everywhere. This beautiful sacred space of nature that has been abused and scarred by dumb ass partiers. A shame. A crying shame. That the internet allows for these places to be exposed, over-discovered and subsequently abused breaks my backpacking heart. I pass the hot springs and see toilet paper everywhere, more trash, loud music, naked bums. I take no issue with the latter but the rest of it is depressing.
Soon I see Cherokee and JD burning up in the shade. They are worked over and only halfway into the walk and yet they are smiling and enjoying the toil. They are true lovers of the trail and I silently hope this hot breezeless canyon goes easy on them. I imagine them going back into normal work on monday, listening to co-workers talk about their shopping adventures on the weekend, them thinking ‘if you only knew what we did’ likely not sharing because who understands the act of exhaustion and suffering hiking brings, be it for a day, a week, a month or much longer. Hiking is hard. Period. And I am glad they have a personal trail angel today with Ina. She is the best.
I reach another parking area with a cabin of sorts that is some kind of tourist attraction I don’t even go see. Ina has left me water in a crevice in the rocks. It’s obvious to me because Cherokee and JD show me a pic of where the 3 litres of water is. I am free again and can camp where I want because I have water. Better yet I have water I don’t need to filter. Life is grande. I am so rich I feel greedy.
32 mile to Big Bear. But not tonight.
I meet Atlas sitting on a large rock beside the trail soon after. He is hopping all over the trail. NOBO, SOBO, NOBO again, section here, section there. He is hiking his own hike. We chat about things on the trail, things in life. I notice his backpack is duck taped together. We’re a similar age and he questions the sanity of working and slaving away your life. He is recently retired and I suspect thinks I will criticize this decision and these reflections. I offers encouragement and tell him I, too, quit working last year. How I enjoy the freedom of adventure and don’t midst the grind or the ability to fit myself nicely into a slot when someone asks ‘so what do you do for work’. How happy I am to say ‘I do nothing’ with a straight face. Atlas in ways seems a bit down and out but really, I think he’s just tired, and perhaps a little lonely. I try to pump him up and am then on my own way.
It’s so damn beautiful. I am in cougar country for sure with all the massive blonde boulders, the brush, the sand. Hills roll into the distance with the late day sun casting shades of mellow chill all around. The more distant mountains glow pink with the last gasp of sunlight. I find a fantastic flat area, take my water bottle shower, make some hot dinner, drink some fluids and lie down in my little tiny home tarp tent, content with life, grateful for it all.
October 8, 2017
Quiet Desert Camp – Camp near Big Bear
24.4 miles/9hrs 20′
“Do you want anything to eat?” is the welcome I receive into the Sisterhood Circle in the middle of the forest mid-morning. Really, I am looking for water, unsure of where the trough is, and stumble onto the scene of great energy gals sitting, laughing, eating. Hell, yes, I will eat anything you throw my way, and will even do tricks for you, is what I think. What I say is more like ‘yes, please, only if you have anything extra…’. I love these women. They are out for a girls camp and enjoy the space they have. They are decolonizing the typical Outside Magazine image of the outdoors (white, heterosexual, middle class or above). They are funny and smart and beautiful. They let me into their little wilderness experience. They tell me they were just saying how they wanted to meet some hiker trash to give trail magic right before I walked up. They make me blueberry banana pancakes with butter (real butter), water, fruit. They chat me up about the trail and make me feel special that I am on it, and hiking in a dress, to boot. They send me on my way loaded with water I don’t have the filter, an avocado and an orange. More than anything I am so utterly stoked to talk and connect with other women outdoors. The best way to come together: in nature. Did I mention I love these women?
The early start gives me an early finish. There are cougar tracks everywhere. Big cats. Roaming their territory. And so they should. I could hike all the way to the highway and hitch into Big Bear, all before dark, but why pass up a grove of piñion-juniper forest and the silence save for the breeze blowing for a loud town and stuffy hotel? Ina plans to meet me on the trail in the morning and hang out in Big Bear. She wants to help me out with her now experienced trail angel capacity haha. The only comment on Guthook’s app for the spot I camp is ‘quiet’. Which is synonymous with ‘perfect’ in my books.