Rob darn near saved my life this morning. I developed a monstrous blister yesterday on my right heel. Imagine a second heel growing out of the right side of my current heel at about the size of my thumb. Ugh. As he always lovingly tends to my blisters (seriously, he takes time to take care of my blisters EVERY DAY… sadly, that means that I need to have blisters looked at everyday 😦 ) he drained it for me and I was able to fit it in my shoe. Phew! Good thing, because our hike up this morning started with a 1,200 foot elevation gain over just 1.3 miles distance. Rob enjoyed watching the sunrise over the windmills this morning while laying in the tent. Now that same sun was scorching us at 9am as we made this intense climb first thing in the morning. On top of that, it was very windy. We both had close calls with the wind on the edge of the cliffs. We continued our windy 5 miles to White Water Preserve through large elevation gains and losses and were happy to hear and see the river running when we arrived.
The landscape changes in the Preserve to white sand and rock with a river submit through it. In the middle of the desert. It was a beautiful change in scenery and when we left that area about 4 after our siesta I commented that the Preserve, with the San Bernardino mountains in the background, look like a movie set they are so picturesque. Before that, at the Preserve, we spent about 3 1/2 hours eating lunch, and laying around in our sleeping bags on the grass to kill the hot part of the day.
On our way out about 4 we rain into Mellow. He was entering the Ranger Station on the property right as we went to walk out and finish another 8+ miles for the day before camping on Mission Creek. He said that Tasha and B were 30 minutes behind him and they were camping there that night.
We proceeded out of the Preserve and started to feel like we made the right decision leaving later because it was nice and cool out with the intensity of the midday sun. Our evening hike soon turned a bit dangerous. It became incredibly windy and as we were traversing the mountain sides we were soon battling the wind just to stay on the trail and not be blown down the cliff. We have encountered wind so far, but this was fierce wind. At several points, I was standing on the top of the mountain when a fierce wind pounded against me. I had to dig my trekking poles in deep, bend my knees and put my head down and brace myself so the wind wouldn’t knock me over. I stood there for a full minute at least waiting for it to die down before moving any further. I saw Rob being nearly blown back from the wind on the cliff. Mellow said it’s more windy these past couple weeks than he remembers it being when he did the PCT the first time. Our day of unexpected and varied hiking difficulties didn’t stop there. About 3 miles in it started raining. Just a drizzle at first and then constant. The sky was so dark and we were trying to outrun the rain, but still had 4 miles left to go. The path had us climbing a small mountain which was windy again – so it’s raining and windy – but at least it wasn’t too cold. I was hustling for those miles. I even ran some of them, which is hindsight was not a good idea. It’s way too hard on my feet with the pack on and adding to all those miles walked during the day. While my head was down to fight the wind, and I’m being rained on as daylight is fading, I saw something coming at me fast. I couldn’t tell what it was and screamed. Rob came over the ridge running and I yelled back, “Its only a bunny, but I couldn’t tell cause the darn thing was charging me so fast.” I scared that cute thing when I screamed!!
**Rob’s interjection: The mad rage of the Bunny was aimed right for Lace as they both crossed the ridge toward one another. The Bunny’s horns popped 3″ out of his head and drool ran down his fangs. On one little Bunny paw, a switchblade. In the other, a spiked iron ball on a chain. Strapped to his back was a crossbow, loaded and cocked with the curled metal Bunny tail right on the trigger. Blood curdling screams from both Lacy n the evil Bunny cried out in the twilight. Lacy’s pure size and vocal ability saved her life as the Bunny broke off his charge and went off in search of another target.**
After what felt like an endless 4 miles in the rain on a ridge top that seemed to go on for eternity, we descended and camped at the first decent looking spot and set up camp in the rain. First time we have had to do that. We moved fast and almost like clock work, as soon as we were all set up, the clouds parted and it was a beautiful night. We were too frazzled to cook so we ate a bunch of snacks for dinner – beef jerky (has fast become 1 of our favorite snacks), truffle almonds and coconut flakes (thanks again S&K!) topped off by Oreos. While we ate, we went back over the day and were laughing about the bunny “charging” me (I promise, this bunny was on a mission). We marveled at how this had been our most technically challenging day ever and that we got through it unscathed and even ending the day with laughs. After snuggling down in my sleeping bag and reading while eating jelly beans (it was heavenly!), I dozed off. Today was a rollercoaster!