Sleep was rough with rain and wind battering the tent about. We woke up in a cloud but music soon got us eating miles along the trail. The path dropped down to lush green meadows where we caught up with Panda and came across the famous Eagle Rock. Here we joined many hikers in the last few miles of the day before reaching Warner Springs. We enjoyed our first showers on the trail, though they were bucket showers, and had a chance to rinse our clothes, fill our bellies and enjoy down time with hiker trash.
After the previous days heat and low mileage we aimed to get up early and kill it putting in 12 miles before midday. Warner Springs was our next destination at mile 110 so we wanted to get into the late 90’s to make the next day easier. Despite the heat we managed to surpass our original aim of 95, passes over the ridge line to new views eventually bedding down on a dry river bed. Water caches during the day kept us sane in the heat.
This was the day of Julian and a much anticipated Nero (low mileage day). We finished the decent from our camping spot and crossed a few miles along the flat before reaching Scissors Crossing. From here we aimed to hitch hike to the town of Julian, but the locals kept us waiting and the tourists looked perplexed by the number of seemingly homeless people wanting a ride to town.
Today was a helluva exposed day! We also learnt that downhills hurt more than up hills, so we took a break at the bottom of a valley to rest the knees and dry out our tent. The following climb was brutal in the heat, so once at the summit we made our own shelter using our ground sheet stretched between shrubs and tucked down for lunch.
Eventually we strolled down the opposite ridge side listening to a couple of dudes fire their rifles at nothing. At the bottom we were blessed by Trail Magic! Francisco and Karina were absolute angels and deserve their own post so keep eyes out for that.
The next 5-6 miles came easy after that and we settled down along side a boulder with a view. Coyotes and owls filled the night .
We awoke to beautiful cool morning and stretched our legs through the pine forests surrounding Mt Laguna. The path zigzagged through burnt land but had stunning views of up and coming mountain ranges – the first signs of snow in the horizon. Eventually the heat picked up as we walked along the cliff ridge and back into the exposed shrub-land.
After a good night’s sleep amongst the logs and doing our best to avoid any Poison Oak we hit the steep switchbacks out of Hauser Creek and got to the Lake Morena malt shop with time for an early reward of a milkshake each and a gifted Tuna Sandwich with fries! Generous, friendly people everywhere :). Pressing on we enjoyed the fantastic scenery, gave Duke & Cheyenne a carrot (see Podcast Episode 5 for details), and made it just past Boulder Oaks where we found a secluded spot and spent a restful night without another soul in sight.
Moving on from the excellent hospitality of Trail Angels Scout & Frodo, we stuffed our faces at breakfast; and with the sage advice of more experienced (or just more vocal) trail hands headed to the Mexican border. With the sound of border patrol helicopters hovering above we hit the trail; perfect hiking conditions, warm but muted sunshine and a gentle breeze set us up for more mileage today than we’d expected. Surprisingly varied scenery for the ‘desert’; please checkout Podcast Episode 4 for details of today’s journey! 🙂