Friday, March 22, 2019 – 10.30 miles
The condensation in my tent was frozen in the morning. I slowly ate breakfast while the sun slowly crept high enough to illuminate my tent. The sunlight made little difference in temperature but the sky was blue and the visibility flawless. I saw a second snowy mountain in the distance – maybe one is Mt. San Jacinto and the other is Mt. San Gorgonio.
When I started walking, the trail quickly dropped into Chariot Canyon, which would have been a better place to camp than the Mason Valley Fire Tank. The eTrails photo of the canyon had given me the impression that it was wide, but it was narrow enough to provide good shelter. My bad for not checking the map.
After a row of hills I reached the Rodriguez Fire Tank, which was visible as a pipe sticking out from a cement box. Like your average campground spigot, the flow of water from the pipe was impossible to reduce below a drip, and that had been compensated for by the placement of a jug beneath the pipe. Another jug was half-full and some empty jugs were lying on the ground.
Views were good and became even better throughout the afternoon.
Flowers and prickly pear, beavertail and cholla cacti appeared. The first time I spotted a cholla, I said ‘oh, hello there!’ in that tone of voice that one employs for adorable baby animals. I take it back. It was nostalgia, nostalgia only.
What did I not see? People! It was a throwback to days on the AZT and Heysen and reminded me of the special quality of hiking in solitude.
The afternoon was hot. I looked aimlessly for a campsite and eventually wandered up a wash to a place I liked. I had already pitched my tent and cooked supper when I heard someone making camp below. They haven’t walked up to say hi, so I don’t know whether they know I’m here. I should have downloaded cougar sounds onto my phone. Life is full of missed opportunities.