Day 15: mile 223.5 – mile 238.7

Elevation gain: 4,742 ft

Elevation loss: 852 ft

This morning we awoke to SUN, glorious sun! And it looked like all the mountains around our campsite last night got fresh snow. We were perched on top of a hill which made for some amazing 360 degree views!

The first 3 miles were mainly downhill to Mission Creek. It was so nice to have clouds, sunshine, easy terrain, and a constant white capped backdrop. Using the umbrella yesterday was nice in order to keep us drier, but definitely made it tough to look around.

Once at the river, we met a bunch of new hikers. It’s funny how everyone gathers up at the water sources, very similar to people gathering around “the water cooler” while they’re at work. 😜 This is where Bri got his trail name…yay!! Dan and Jillian want to call him Lincoln (or Link) because Bri was throwing logs around in the river yesterday like they were Lincoln Logs…perfect! We grabbed some water for breakfast shakes, and washed my goods out. I always bring 2 pairs of socks, 2 undies, and 2 bralettes so that I can wash the dirty one on one day and then hang it to dry on the back of my pack to be “clean” and able to wear the next day 😁

After the first 3 miles, the river then decided to play a cruel game of hide and seek with us. Sometimes there would be this tall 4×4 piece of wood sticking up as a trail marker, but then there wouldn’t be any for quite some time. See it in this picture on the right of the trail?

There would always be a marker when it seemed to be obvious where the trail was, but then when we needed it most…NOTHING! And let me tell you, people…we had TWENTY-SEVEN stream crossings today (of course I counted)! So we would cross, look for footprints, do some bush whacking, maybe find the trail, maybe not. Pull out the GPS, get back on the trail briefly, and then it was time to cross the river and play this game all over again! But even though we crossed the stream 27 times, we didn’t get our feet wet once. Yesterday was one crossing, and I got soaked to my knees, but today: dry as a bone! You just never know what one river is gonna give you compared to the next. This fun little hide and seek game definitely slowed us down, only going 5 miles over the next 3 hours.

But you know what, the sun was shining so bright and lovely that we were able to dry all of our wet gear on a rock during lunch, so that was great!

After lunch, we only had 7 miles to a campsite we were shooting for, but we anticipated that some, or a lot, of that hiking would be in snow so we knew we needed to hustle when we could. There was a large amount of elevation gain today, but after the stream crossings we were given some easier trail (gravel or dirt without too many rocks is ideal) to walk on at least…UNTIL…we lost the trail. We were walking in an old river bed, following footprints, so we hadn’t looked at the GPS in a while. Then all of a sudden, the footprints stopped. So Bri looked at the map and we were way off. So we walked up a ridge, off trail, which means tons of slipping, sliding, more bush whacking, weaving in and out of cacti the whole time. When we got to the top, we could see the trail WAY down below right near the actual river…so we could’ve just stayed lower instead of going up and down this stinking ridge where I ended up falling on my a*# and cursing quite a bit. Even though this whole trail is hard, of course I expect that…if it was easy, everyone would do it, I KNOW. There are times that are frustrating, but not nearly as much as when we have to walk extra miles or make the walking harder than it has to be because of our own error…ERGGG! Needless to say, we got back on track and found ourselves in snow pretty quickly as we continued to increase our elevation. Man…snow, blue skies and clouds make for some breathtaking scenery! I hope I was able to capture it in some of these pix:

The difference between the snowy trail today and when we hiked San Jacinto, is that this snow wasn’t nearly as deep. This meant that it had already melted off much of the trail so we weren’t having to do as much slipping, sliding, and post holeing. That was very nice, and we made it to the campsite at 5:15. Bri stomped out a flat spot to make it easier to pitch the tent, and the stream was nearby to make water fetching easier.

We made dinner in the vestibule of the tent for the 2nd night in a row because it got really cold quickly. We plan on waking up earlier tomorrow since we will probably be walking in snow all day. Looks like we will be putting on wet/frozen shoes again tomorrow morning…brrrr! Thanks for coming along on our journey with us! Amy

PS…let me leave you with this cute little guy. We had stopped so Bri could fix something on his pack and I just happened to look up and saw this cute little cactus just growing out of the rock. I bet no one ever even sees this prickly dude: