Magic Everywhere

It's just been a couple of days since our last post, but it's going to be the kind of week where we get to enjoy the trappings of civilization more frequently than most on the PCT. 

We hiked out of Idyllwild on Friday after receiving a ride back to the trailhead from Dave - a Trail Angel who does such things in that area.  The next two days were the prettiest of the trip so far, as we summited Mt San Jacinto and enjoyed the cooler weather at 10,800 feet.  We rushed to get back down in elevation to camp so we wouldn't get terrible headaches.  We watched an amazing sunset over the mountains west of San Jacinto, then got a good night's sleep before tackling the longest descent of the PCT. 

On Saturday, we had one of our hardest mornings, with a descent from our 7500 foot high camp site down to about 2000 feet over 15 miles, to the valley floor that houses Palm Springs and Palm Desert.  Adding that to the previous day's descent from 10,800 feet to 7500, the overall drop from the peak of San Jacinto to the valley is almost 9000 feet in about 20 miles!  That's a long drop.  It's also a long time to take to do it, so the descent seemed to go on forever, with a bunch of switchbacks that defy switchback logic by going up rather than down on the descent.  It was a beautiful descent, but we were also very aware of the temperatures which dropped from comfortable 60's at the top to exposed 90's at the bottom.  There was a 20 mile water carry during that section as well, which meant that we were dragging about 5 liters apiece down the hill.

By the time we made it to the water source, a faucet at the valley floor, we were beat.  We hadn't taken any breaks in order to beat the heat, and had been walking without shade for most of the morning, so were pretty fried.  Thank God for trail magic!  As we came around the corner to the faucet, we were greeted with a tarzan yell by an Angel appropriately named "Tarzan" who offered oranges and avocados fresh from the tree, muffins, sandwiches and shade.  That made for a perfect resting spot, so we hung out there for about 3 hours for an afternoon siesta.

We'd originally planned to camp at the faucet, but there wasn't any shade and we got there by about 1 pm, so we had all day. So after leaving Tarzan's, we decided to hike a few more miles to Ziggy and the Bear's - the house of a couple of elderly trail angel's who have reorganized their whole place to accomodate the mass of hikers coming through. 

Magic continued, as we made it about 2/3 of the way there when we were greeted by another angel - DNA - who offered us a cold drink and advice on how to get into Palm Springs (about 13 miles away) the next day.  Then at Ziggy and the Bear's, we were greeted with cold gatorade, couches, and a perfect hiker setup.  The morning descent had been brutal, so this was an amazing pick-me-up. While we were there, we met a PCT legend - Billy Goat - who is a nice old guy who's hiked more miles on the PCT than anyone else.  He's done it something like 7.5 times.  He had open heart surgery last year, so is a bit laid up, but was still preparing to go to Wisconsin to tackle the Ice Age trail next week.  He was just at Ziggy's helping out and spending time with friends. 

The next day we'd planned ahead to go into Palm Springs and stay for a few days (we have until next weekend to make the next 60 miles so it seemed like a good idea to check it out). We'd booked ahead a 3 bedroom place a few months ago through our timeshare, thinking we'd find some hikers who wanted to go with us.  On the morning of (yesterday), we still didn't have any takers, but by about 10 am we'd gathered a crowd (as one does when they offer a bed in a resort to a bunch of dirty hikers).  Frontpage, who was spending a couple days zeroing anyway with infected blisters, Walker and the newly christened 'Dune', and Angel's co-worker Michael Witte - who hadn't planned to zero, but decided to in order to hang out for a few days.  Frontpage paid for a taxi in yesterday, and Michael bought everyone dinner and drinks.  Walker just walked in with donuts, so it's been good times!

We'll hang out here again today and do our chores (groceries, planning, etc.), along with, I'm sure, swimming and rednecking it up amongst the rich and famous of Palm Springs, before heading out again tomorrow.  The temperatures here have been in the mid to high 90's already, but are cooling off for the next few days, which should make for a more pleasant ascent - we're climbing for awhile up to Big Bear, so cooler temps will make a big difference!

I'm putting some more pictures up at the Flickr page for those who are interested!  Miss you all!

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