Monday, April 08, 2019 – 12.20 miles
I enjoyed the rest of Black Mountain Road this morning, having seen no other hikers the entire time. Impressive views from the last yellow post campsite.
At the snowmelt stream near the group campground I loaded up with water, since the descent into the desert is supposed to be dry and will definitely be hot.
Where the road and PCT met, they formed a long switchback. Seeing a dry route down to the PCT before the junction, I bushwhacked down to avoid the snow on the trail. I did encounter some sloping patches later, but they were marked by reasonably deep footprints and simple to cross.
The only problem was that one of my hiking pole wrist straps broke, which also made me notice that the other was starting to tear. I’ve been calling this the ‘retirement hike’ for some of my gear and it feels like everything is coming apart.
From Black Mountain Road, the PCT descends more than 6000 feet into the desert. Often when I convert feet into metres, I end up thinking ‘oh, that’s not so much’. But 6000 feet is a lot! Dozens of lizards were happily skittering around in the heat and sun, in no danger of losing their ‘species of least concern’ status. I noticed the appearance of a particularly robust variety that presumably gains valuable sodium and moisture by feeding on the tears of labouring hikers.
The forecast was for heat, and the temperature was certainly high. The few running streams didn’t look appealing. I had packed enough water to get to Snow Creek Fountain, so I ignored them.
Making camp at a site with a great view of San Jacinto, I watched adorable bats while brushing my teeth.
The current forecast is nasty for Big Bear, with 10-15 mm of rain, 5 cm of snow and a high of six degrees Celsius predicted for Friday. Hypothermia weather and a dump of snow at high elevations, lovely… the southern PCT is so wildly variable. Right now it’s so warm at 8:15 PM that I’m actually lying on top of my sleeping bag.