We rise this morning with the sun. It cast long pink and mouve rays across the mountains beside us and down onto the desert floor where the lights of the people flickered below. Behind us, through the pines the moon, full and bright, still illuminated the morning sky. We packed up and left camp by 6 am. I (meg) woke today feeling very happy and refreshed. Harriet however had been to hot an not slept well. Phoebe was somewhere in between.
Through the pines and soft grasses we trod in the silence early morning brings. Past boulders and some Poodle Dog bush we went, following the trail gently up. Within the hour the trail led us to a saddle in which we could look out the the mountains surging north and the desert expanding out to the east. We left the trail and found a pretty spot to make our coffee and eat our oats and breakfast bars.
After breakfast we decided to walk about 9 kms to a fire station where we could resupply on water. The trail headed into the desert and led us quickly down. Along the way we went through yet another burnt section. California seems to have endured many burns over the years and the land does not heal easily. At the fire station hikers gathered like animals to a waterhole in a great dry land. A little bit like animals of different species it seemed that this morning bands of hikers kept to themselves. Some groups barley acknowledged the existence of others. it was a weird vibe of everyone being there for a collective purpose but reluctant to engage in any conversation. Dave is running low on snacks and phoebe he mentioned that blogs she has read mentioned snacks being sold from the fire station. He eagerly went down to only be disappointed with news that snacks are not available until well into tomorrow’s hike at the ranger station.
We continued on for another 10 kms until we can to a road, where there was meant to be water. The track leading to this spot consisted of a long, hot, exposed sweaty climb to begin. My calves burnt as the pushed me along the soft sandy trail and with every switch back I hoped it to be the last.
Eventually, the trail found itself up in an elevation where pines could grow, chapparell was plentiful and the grass was meadowy soft and green. It undulated along like this for a while and toward the end of this section the shrubbery on the track almost took over the trail. For kms on end we had to push through overgrowth always keeping an eye out for Poodle Dog bush.
Unfortunatly on arriving at our organised meeting spot the water we had hoped to find was barley existentent. We pushed our hot, hungry bodies into some over grown shrubby trees for shade and ate lunch, pondering how and where we might get water for the next 10 kms and tonight’s camp. At around 2 I decided to pack up my things and head a mile (1.6 kms) down trail to a potential water source. We decided that if I hadn’t come back to the group in 45 minutes that it meant I had found water. I found water, so sat waiting for the others to arrive. They did, water was filtered and we began our final climb of the day. Up the trail went through the same thick shrub. The green tendrils of foliage brushed against our dirty legs and the shade of the pines kept us cool in the afternoon sun.
Occasionally the switch backs would lead us out the lushness into an exposed sunny ridge but it was rare. As the day stretched out the light filtered through the trees beautifully. It was peaceful and uplifting and I think that despite it being a tough push up we all enjoyed it. Passing over the saddle we entered back into burn area and the trail descended quickly down to our camp. The view coming down the trail was amazing. We looked across the range into desert mountains that stretched seemingly forever into the horizon. Way out back there are a few huge ranges. We don’t know what they are.
The camp is unassuming and simple. A number of hikers have made it home for tonight. We cooked pasta, and had enough for dave also. Harriet and I are now in the tent and the vestibule is open. Over the hills the sun is setting, all pinks and mouves again. Maybe this time in the opposite order. We can hear hikers rolling into camp. The alarm is set for 5.30 am and a big 20 mile day tomorrow.