Mama Lingo dropped us off at the trailhead after our stay in Idyllwild. We hiked about 2.5 miles up the Devils Slide Trail to Saddle Junction, where we hooked back up with the PCT. After hiking just a few miles through this environment it reminded us of the Sierras. The trees were big and there was even snow along the trail. We took a side trip up to the top of Mount San Jacinto, the second highest peak in Southern California at 10,834 ft. We had been wanting to do that hike while living in San Diego, and being so close to the trail it was a perfect opportunity. We hiked until the sunset to make it to a camp spot known as “the parking lot.” It’s a big open dirt area that allows you to camp right before the long decent down Fuller Ridge.
We woke up the next morning ready to hike from the mountains down to the desert floor. It is only 4 miles straight down, but stretched over 16 miles of switchbacks. The ridge consisted of overgrown thorny bushes we had to hike through, which wasn’t fun because it was extremely hot and we were wearing shorts. There was very little shade, but when we did find some we all congregated around it to cool down. Lots of us had our sun umbrellas out as well. A few hikers encountered rattlesnakes, but Lingo and I didn’t see any. When we finally got to the bottom there was a faucet where we all got water. A couple of hikers ran out of water before getting to the faucet, so one of their friends named Choop Choop hiked a bunch of water back UP the ridge to help them. The day wasn’t over for us once we got to the faucet. We still had another few miles to hike to our destination at trail angel’s Ziggy and The Bear’s house. Along the way we were the recipients of some trail magic! We got beer from Lightening Rod’s father in law, Jim.
We finally got to Ziggy and The Bear’s house around dinner. Their place was so wonderful! We were fed a big salad while sitting on a couch outside where they offered all of us foot soaks! After the soak we were handed warm clean towels so we could take showers in a solar-powered shower house. We set up our sleeping bags outside where their whole backyard is lined with carpet bolted to the ground so everyone could “cowboy camp.” Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, we were offered a heaping bowl of ice cream. I got cookies n cream! It was such a wonderful end to a long tough day. I am very appreciative to have gotten to stay there.
The next morning we left and hiked through a wind farm. The sky was overcast, and the windmills looked pretty as they turned. This day there were lots of winding trails, and it reminded me of some of Dr. Seuss’s drawings in The Places You’ll Go. We stopped for lunch at a place called Whitewater Preserve. It used to be a trout farm, but now the trout just swim around in big man-made ponds. The park had grassy lawn, picnic tables, water, and a bathroom! What a nice surprise being in the desert. The hike up the windy hills after lunch was tough though. It was so windy we could barely walk! We got to our destination at Mission Creek around 4pm, filtered water, and set up our tent. It was so nice to get there early and be able to relax! It was warm that night, so Lingo and I zipped our bags together so we could cuddle!
The next day we hiked 15 miles to Mission Springs Trail camp where we would be filling up our water before another long dry stretch. It was around 5:30pm when we were about to leave and hike another 5 miles to make it a 20 mile day. We each had about 5 liters of water. We started to hike out when we realized Lingo had water dripping from the bottom of his backpack. When we finally opened his backpack the platypus (water reservoir) had broke at the seam. Water leaked down the inside of his pack and got on his down sleeping bag, tent, and jacket. It was going to get dark in a couple of hours, and it was more important to get his sleeping bag dry before nightfall than to hike another 5 miles. We tried to dry everything out before bed. The temperature started to drop, and there was a crisp cool breeze. Lots of other hikers got to camp as we were getting in bed. We were kind of grouchy and unsocial because of the water and lack of more mileage for the day. We thought it would cheer is up to zip our sleeping bags together again, so we did. Bad idea. It was so cold that night that all of our water bottles froze. Our bags, since zipped together, weren’t able to cinch tightly around our necks to keep the heat from escaping. Our breath created condensation on the inside of our tent because of the cold, and the condensation then turned to frost. The frost started to melt and then drip all over our sleeping bags! I was freezing! We noticed all this around 4 am, and were too tired to do anything. We woke up an hour later, and strapped our wet tent to the outside of our backpack. At lunch later that day we took out our tent and sleeping bags to dry in the sun.
That day we hiked past the “animal cages.” I was looking forward to seeing the animals. They are celebrity animals! Boy was that also a bad idea! It was so depressing when we hiked by. In teeny tiny cages I saw a grizzly bear. It was hot out, and he had no shade. He sat slumped over, and looked very depressed. It made me upset to see such a magnificent creature in a cage. We hiked on. We came across a big tool box with “pct magic” written in spray paint. We opened it up and there was soda and a log book! We sat on the very convenient couch located there on the side of the trail and enjoyed the treats! We camped about 10 miles outside of the highway leading to Big Bear that night.
The next morning we hiked to the highway. It would be our first real road hitch. We took off our hats and sunglasses, and put on big friendly smiles. Lingo stuck his thumb out while I waved. It took about 12 cars but we got a ride into Big Bear Lake! A hotel, shower, pizza, and friends from San Diego would be in town that day. It was a great day!