I say I’m going to be up and out by 6:30, but 6:30 rolls around and I’m barely out of bed. I want to get out though, want to be back out there as soon as I can be, so I’m grabbing thankfully-dry bits and bobs, stuffing them in my pack hoping, hoping that I can get a hitch back out to mile 47.5. I’ll roadwalk if I have to – it’s an early morning, and who knows who’s going to be out and moving – but that’d be a rough way to start the day.
It’s like Silent Hill as I’m headed out of town, the cloud we’re living in muffling sound and generally making everything a might bit creepier. I meet a nice local out walking his dog, trying to tell me to turn on the last road before 47.5, but I tell him where I’m going and he just nods and moves on. Shortly after the road, a Westphalia van comes my way out of the fog, and I throw my thumb out successfully. Chuck was camped nearby last night, moving on this morning, and is happy to give me a lift just past Laguna Campground to the trail. We have a pleasant conversation, then it’s just me and my feet and the path ahead.
I’m hot-cold-hot again, between the wind and the sun and the clouds; it’s a constant gamble – do I take this layer off, put this layer on? Gloves no gloves, hat no hat, hood no hood. It’s so beautiful out, clouds hovering, reaching out to stretch over the desert and not quite making it.
A little ways on, I catch Ilva and Jerry again – they’re a German couple who I’ve been pretty evenly paced with, and they’re trying to get into Julian to resupply, as they don’t quite think they have enough food to make it all the way to Idyllwild. Snorkel texted me last night – she’s planning on doing trail magic around 4:30 at mile 64.1, so maybe she and Mr. G will have space for them? No promises, but maybe. We pull into Pioneer Mail Picnic Area, where they need water and I don’t, so I move on up the incline and down the trail.
Soon after, I pass several placards and a geology class from some college, UCSD maybe. The class is blocking my view of the placards – I have little idea what they’re about, but from the flowers and the stark inscriptions I imagine they’re memorials. I’d like to get closer, but I can’t without interrupting the class, although not everyone is paying attention. Oh well. Maybe next time.
The trail is beautiful here, meandering, with little ups and downs. The clouds have left, but the breeze has not, and I’m rolling at over 2.5 miles an hour, feeling like a boss. I stop for a break and chat with Stephen, a San Diego local out for a few days. He’s found a spot out of the sun and wind and I join him, throwing off my shoes for a bit. There’s service, and Snorkel texts, saying they’re running behind, but their 2WD Subaru won’t make it up the road at 64.1 – they’re now going to meet me at 59.5, the Sunrise Trailhead – a trough water source just off-trail, but also just off a paved road. I’m only 3.5 miles out at that point, so I chill out for quite a while longer.
And then, I cruise to the trailhead.
I arrive about a half-hour earlier than they say they’ll be there, avail myself of the pit toilet and of the company there. Yoda regales us with tales of the AT, and Riane from New Zealand chats about her experiences so far. A text tells me Snorkel’s running later than she thinks; my company drifts off one by one. Riane holds off the longest, but even she, too, pulls away – and she’s barely back on trail before there’s a Snorkel and a Mr. G in front of me, bearing gifts and trail magic.
Tabouli and cornichons and brownies and cocoa, oh my! One by one, hiker friends old and new trickle in, avail themselves of delicious offerings. I think of hiking on, but my friends are here, and Snorkel and Mr. G offer to take me into Julian for a hot meal, so it looks like this is where I’m sleeping. I go set up while they clean up, and then there’s conversation and Italian food and pie, so much pie that I can’t finish it. And mead-beer, to boot. Then it’s driving back through a cloud, settling down in the near dark, warm and happy in my tent as the night closes in.
Start: 47.5 • End: 59.5 • Day: 12
Notable Accomplishments: Cruise Day • Colorado Treats! • Got to say hi/thank you to Snorkel and Mr. G!