3+ weeks into this journey and getting into a solid rhythm of walking. rising each day with the sun, the slow process of it all step by step passing through waves of heat, the wind, lizards scattering snakes rattling and buzzards drifting the thermals overhead. switchbacking wandering our way through these diverse landscapes.
the deserts are beautiful, so many different complexities and network communities that we've experienced in just this small piece of time. the changes and transitions are constant...dry crackling sage and chaparral hillsides, cactus valleys, cool canyons with clear running waters passing oak and cottonwood, sliding through snow crisp air sub-alpine reaches of jeffery and ponderosa pine, incense cedar, white fir, and the vast stretches of land scorched by fire...canyons and mountainsides, skeletal seas of bleached branches slowly being enveloped by the new growth.
with rainfall this year an incredible bloom of wildflowers are covering the lands...vivid colors all around, paintbrush, lupine, lilac, the cactus flowers bright and miraculous, thousands of yucca blooms across the hillsides. inside and around it all hummingbirds, wasps, bees, ants, moths and butterflies hovering and dancing.
we've been humbled by the kindness and generosity extended our way throughout the trip. in wrightwood we met the moore family who took us into their home to share stories and food. at the big bear hostel (www.bigbearhostel.com) grayson toured us around the town and lent out some cruisers and we pedaled the town from china buffet to the health food store laughing in our puffy jackets.
and now after a wonderful little break with the family to see my sister graduate we start back at it...to continue being humbled, walking on through the landscapes, skies above and city lights below, in heat and hunger, tired, frustrated, elated, mind wandering to some dreamed up foodstuff, alongside the spaces of presence, walking meditation...small bodies passing slowly through canyons and mountains, tiny dust clouds gathering and disappearing with each footstep.
Monday, May 26, 2008
After quite the drawn out and complicated transportation ordeal we made it to Berkeley for Jeramy's sister Chrissy's college graduation.
The last few weeks on the trail have been wonderful. I feel like I have finally begun to settle into the pace and lifestyle of hiking on a daily bases. My body has adjusted well, with the exception of the first week of painful blisters and achy legs. I can already feel the muscles in my legs getting stronger though. The mountains we have climbed thus far will surely pay off once we get to the Sierra's.
It is truly amazing to walk from the hot, dry, cactus and rattle snake ridden desert to the cool forests of the mountains and walk among pine and fir trees and even through the snow at times.
Our first encounter with real mountains was entering the San Jacinto Wilderness Area just outside of the cute mountain town of Idyllwild. That evening we camped near the highest point we will hit before entering the Sierra's, around 9,000 ft. I felt the effects of altitude sickness for the first time, luckily it didn't last long. In the San Jacinto's we hit our first snow and hiking down Fuller Ridge Jeramy took his first fall of the trip. We intend to keep tabs the entire way. Currently Jeramy is in the lead. Mark and I have no falls so far. I'm sure that will change though.
The climb down San Jacinto the following day was one of the windiest I have experienced. Perhaps this should not have been too surprising considering we walked through a wind farm in the valley below. After hiking through the wind swept valley below the San Jacintos we entered the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area. I had hoped it would be less windy on that side of the pass but we were out of luck.
Eventually, as we descended into Whitewater Canyon the wind began to die down. The San Gorgonio Wilderness was gorgeous. We followed Mission Creek up into the hills, winding through the canyon, crossing the creek over 20 times and watching life regenerate after a fire burned a large portion of the canyon not more than a few years ago.
The following day we hit Big Bear City, a smallish winter ski resort town. It was a wonderful place to stay, especially once we met Greyson, who ran the one hostel in town. He drove us to the grocery store and let all three of us borrow his cruiser bicycles. We took them for a stroll through town. My front tire was bent out of shape and it was not the most bike-friendly town, but it was fun riding a bike after only traveling by my own two feet for the past few weeks.
After leaving Big Bear we hit some of our hottest days yet. Luckily we were hiking along Deep Creek, a beautiful and strong flowing river rather. Though half of the time we were 100 ft above it on the trail. When we finally reached the spot where the trail and river met we were blessed to find an amazing swimming hole and natural hot springs flowing into the river. It may not sound appealing to sit in a hot spring with the temperature hovering around 100 degrees but it sure felt good on our aching bodies.
We camped that night just beyond the canyon at the only source of water around, a small spigot coming out of the ground. The next morning brought us to Silverwood Lake, a popular boating destination for city folk on the weekend. Sitting in the shade by the lake a crew of hikers slowing materialized. Everyone had the same idea we had. Get out of the sun and near the water. Common sense where we were hiking. We lounged around for awhile, killing time until the heat died down. We went swimming, ate lunch and eventually, reluctantly packed up and continued on our way.
The day before we hit our next town of Wrightwood we came to the I-15, a huge interstate located along the San Andreas fault. Hikers had been raving about this freeway for days. Apparently a McDonald's sat less than half a mile from the trail, an acceptable detour from the trail when food is concerned. McDonald's, not being quite my idea of food, did not entice me much. However I was willing to walk the extra half mile beyond McDonald's for Subway. Not much better, I know, but we all compromise when we're on the trail hiking 20 miles a day.
Not wanting to camp near the freeway and having only gone 6 miles that morning we chose to continue on, climbing again into the San Bernardino National Forest. We crossed over the San Andreas fault shortly after leaving I-15. I later learned that the rock formation we walked passed (the Mormon Rocks) has twin rocks 25 miles north of there, the split was created during past earthquakes. The last large quake in the area was over 150 years ago and it is said that they are long over due for another large earthquake. It is one of those things that is in the back of the minds of the residents around there. People talk about "earthquake weather" and stocking up on food just in case.
That night we camped at the top of the ridge after a long climb up. It was a beautiful view, snow caped San Antonio on one side and the rolling desert hills on the other. The next day we only had 13 miles left until Wrightwood and we had done most of the climbing the previous day. It felt like a breeze. Especially once we met our trail angle Bob who agreed to meet us at the road and give us a ride into town. While driving to town we learned Bob and his wife Maria regularly take in hikers and had housed 5 the night before. He offered us a place to stay that night and we didn't turn him down. It was more than I could have asked for. Maria cooked us a wonderful dinner, we took hot showers and left wearing clean clothes.
I've found that in every town we come to "trail magic" always appears. Each town we stop in we have encountered amazingly kind people who go out of there way to help us, make sure we have all that we need and ask nothing in return.
So after resting, eating and getting cleaned up we heading off to Berkeley to live the city life for a few days. Little did we know that getting there would be such an ordeal. But that's a story for another time.