Installment #5 - April 24, 1999 - An Unexpected Phone Call!
The last report was from Warner Springs, and the night before that was spent in Barrel Springs, where I camped with Will, Aaron, Meadow Ed, and a herd of cows, who had come over to the springs to drink. [Water, I presume.] Then the next morning, Will and I hiked the 12 miles or so into Warner Springs, where I had called with the last report. I was planning to hitch a ride the 8 miles or so down the road to a motel to get off the trail and tend to my blisters for a while. But I haven't hitchhiked since I was in college, and I discovered that I'm just not a hitchhiker - I got out there, stuck my thumb out kind of tentatively, and as the car approached it made a left turn before it got to me, and that was it - I said the heck with this! [Maybe he didn't give it quite enough of a chance?]
So I went back, finished my stuff with the Post Office, and started off down the trail again. I caught up with Will and we spent the rest of the day in a campground, where Aaron also showed up. The next morning, Batch and Meadow Ed came along. [Who's Batch?] Batch is an older guy who's hiking the trail. [Hey Allen - YOU'RE an older guy!] Well, from MY perspective, he's an older guy - I think he's about 70 - he's doing real well.
It had rained a little bit that afternoon and a little bit during the night, but in the morning it looked like it was going to clear off. We all left the campsite at different times. From there it was UP - we went up around 2000 feet, and then around noon it began to rain, and then it began to hail, and then it began to snow and thunder, and that went on all afternoon. Later, as we came down, we got out of the snow. I was hoping to make it to Tule Springs, but just ran out of time, so I pitched my tent by the side of the trail around 7:00, knowing I didn't have much more light left. Just before that I had passed Batch and Aaron. Batch had pitched his tent right in the middle of the trail - I had to hike around him.
Today, it's been foggy with just a little bit of drizzle - no real precipitation and the sun occasionally peeks through the clouds. Generally, it's cold, foggy, misty - not much visibility. I've been moving all day - I haven't stopped hiking from when I left around 7:30 this morning until 2:00 or so. We've been hiking through mountains that are desert - it seems real strange to me to be freezing cold, walking along in rain, and avoiding the cactus that stick out onto the trail.
Batch had told me that the trail crossed a road, down which about a mile was a restaurant. When I got to the road, Aaron was there and a couple of other guys I hadn't met - Jim and Frank, who were also a couple of older guys (this time, I mean older like my age) from Bakersfield. A couple of people waiting in a car at the road crossing for Batch, who was a little behind me, gave me a ride to the restaurant. Then, they were going to give the other three a ride to Idyllwild, a town up ahead, since they needed a little medical attention - a bad knee, some tendonitis.
But I'm going to keep going! Idyllwild, in fact, is my next stop. Between here and Idyllwild I go up over Mount San Jacinto, which reportedly has two feet of snow. [Where are you now, Allen?] I don't know. But it's wherever the trail crosses Route 74. I'm calling from the restaurant, where I just ate a meal! I had a salad with bleu cheese dressing, and a Coke, and a hotdog, and another hotdog, and then some apple pie a la mode! The food on the trail isn't going to seem as good after this - especially since my stove died. Last night, I had my mashed potatoes and dried veggies mixed in cold water. It worked - they rehydrated, the veggies were a little crunchy maybe [al dente?]. Tasted pretty good, considering that for the first time all day I was stopped, I had my feet up, and I had my wet shoes and wet socks off.
I'm now past the 150 mile mark. It's 27 miles to Idyllwild, where there is an outfitting store where I plan to buy a flashlight and hopefully a new stove. Unfortunately, it's closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so I plan to stay in a motel there for a couple of nights. [But it's only Saturday, Allen - you should be able to get into Idyllwild on Monday no problem.] You're right! I'm sorry - I'm off by a day! [That means you'll have no excuse for staying in a motel for two nights.] Well, I'll probably do it anyway. I need a chance to find a laundry, soak in a tub for a while, lay back and watch some TV or read a book or something, while my blisters heal. And then I'll head out again.
Before Allen left, he had sent me copies of Chapter Maps A, C, D, E, F, and G. Unfortunately, he's currently in Chapter B, so I don't have a close-up map of where he his - I hope to get one shortly. I do have an elevation map for the first 200 miles that shows how high and low he's been (altitude, that is) - you can see the 2000-foot up and down described above. You can also see Mount San Jacinto looming ahead...
Allen sounded quite chipper - I think he's settling in to the regimen!
Added from scans of Allen's slides on May 8:
A better shot of Meadow Ed