October 25th, 2018
Warner Springs Community Center mm 109.5 to mm 75.5
Distance: 34 miles
0800 – 2000
My tent was mostly dry in the morning, despite the sprinklers. It was such a nice area that I took my time packing. I regretted dragging my feet later in the day but at the time felt no rush. Zappy left just after I did but we hiked separately all day. I was in a very good mood starting out on my own and enjoyed hiking up a river valley and then through open plains on a beautiful morning. I came to eagle rock, a series of boulders that have a pretty distinct figure.
Can you see the eagle?
I spent the rest of the day hiking along the San Felipe hills. The trail sidled in and out of every groove and it became a bit monotonous after about 5 hours of it. I passed the 100 mile mark…just a walk in the park left to go!
I came to a water cache for a late lunch and rested in the tiny amount of shade. I did more weaving in and out of the hills the rest of the day but at least the trail was in good shape and the views were great. I came to a spot that had a bunch of compass barrel cactus that were cool.
It was getting dark just as I came to Scissors Crossing and the road to Julian. I hadn’t planned on going to town but it depended on if I could find water at the junction. There was supposed to be about 8 gallons but all I could find was trash. I hated that it had just gotten dark, as it made it hard to search. I couldn’t even see where the trail went after it came to the road. If only I had left just a bit earlier in the morning.
I decided to try to beg some water from a passing RV. There were 2 pulled over and I went to the first one. I think the family was making dinner and it must have scared the hell out of them to see a person just appear out of the desert in the dark. They gave me about a liter anyway and I figured that was better than nothing. I had one bottle of my own left but needed enough to make dinner and last me 24 miles to the next source the following day.
Suddenly noticed a bridge in the road. Generally such places should be avoided in the dark but I needed more water. I went off to the side and down, still no sign of a trail. Sure enough, I found a huge cache with at least 30 gallons. A trail angel named Grumpy had just been there that day and also left fruit, chips, and candy.
There was a creepy feeling about the place, like I was being watched, so I grabbed all I needed and left. Another hiker later told me that he had seen a woman (who was definitely not a hiker) hanging out at 7 am the next morning, so I had probably been right about not being alone. It may be that other people besides PCT hikers take advantage of free water and food in the middle of nowhere.
I walked as far as it took to get away from the highway, which was a couple miles. I don’t carry weapons but what I do have is a brain and dependable feet to get me away from situations I don’t like. I kept my headlamp off most of the way, in stealth mode, relying on the moonlight. The white desert sand on the path was lit up like a beacon. Finally I felt good vibes about my location and set up among some bushes and cacti. I heard some coyotes start to yip and howl really close, so I took that as a good sign that other humans weren’t about in force. I also saw a kangaroo rat. The desert becomes quite alive at night and I had enjoyed seeing some different things while walking in the dark.
About an hour after I stopped, I heard footsteps. Because the person was walking without a headlamp, I was fairly confident it was Zappy. I quietly said “hey Zappy” and the footsteps stopped, then he replied. He was creeped out too and hearing a talking bush didn’t help. He told me that he had nearly stepped on a rattlesnake earlier. I felt better knowing he was camped just up the trail and slept quite well. The desert can be a bit unsettling sometimes. Its complete openness to the sky makes it feel like there is no hiding from anything… especially aliens, LOL.