I have the most vivid dreams – about bollywood marriages and impromptu a capella battles and chasing down a kid who stole another kid’s stuff and parkouring like a boss and almost getting shot in the stomach for my trouble1. I wake shortly after that bit, breathing quick – and muscles aching from yesterday.
Shortly after, I go to put some Aqua Mira together to clean one of my dirty bottles – and between the crazy carpet at Ziggy and the Bear’s and the cap in relation to my shoes and bag, I swear I’ve seen this before, probably in a dream. I hope, as Spesh suggests, it’s just my neurons firing twice – in the dream, the Aqua Mira gets kicked over onto my sleeping bag. Don’t want that.
We’ve got 8.3 miles to the Whitewater Preserve to meet Dr?No, and we’ve got to make it by 10. 2 mph shouldn’t be too taxing.
Sasha grabs the coffee and fruit left out by Ziggy and the Bear, and she meanders out; I *glance over at round up Jerry and Ylva and try to hunt down Moses before heading out, but he’s nowhere to be found. So either he changed his mind or he headed out early. Guess we’ll see when we get there. Ziggy shoos us out at last by telling us it’s supposed to get to 102° today in the valley. YEP, TIME TO GO.
We catch Sasha not too far into the hike; we’re leapfrogging along through the shaded regions, passing a wind farm on our right.
The first and only real climb of the morning is pretty soon into the hike – a gorge, where the last 4/10ths of a mile have 450 feet of elevation gain between them. It’s our first sharp climb of the entire trail, and it kicks our asses. All four of them. We stand panting at the top, taking pictures of a relatively unimpressive view, because we did it, dammit. Unf.
On the back side of the gorge is the beginnings of the San Giorginio Wilderness, which is actually pretty stunning.
Jerry and Ylva and I talk and walk; I get to know them a little better. I like them a lot. Togerher, we face some more climbs, but nothing like what we did earlier, and they all seem easy by comparison.
Then comes the split.
It’s a bit heartbreaking, knowing we’re about to miss 33.5 miles of trail, but it’s either that or roadwalking 50-odd miles or going through the closure, risking a ticket and also safety. Nah.
I am hilariously surprised that there’s water at the Whitewater Preserve. I don’t know what I expected. But we wander over it on well-maintained trail, pull into the parking lot around 9:40. Did it.
Moses is there, having been there a couple hours. He apparently left at 3, got lost until 4:30, and then ran two miles when he saw what he thought were my footprints on the trail ahead of him2. He watches us eat the apples some day hikers foist upon us, to make sure they’re not poisoned first. I try to re-trail-name him Paranoia, and he aptly gets paranoid about it sticking.
Dr?No arrives soon after, and after hugs and piling the four of us into the car, it’s off to Cabazon to see the dinosaurs and then the nearby In & Out Burger for my first meal there.
While the three in the back take their
food comas siestas on the hour-long drive up to Onyx, Dr?No and I talk trail, talk life, with Johnny Cash crooning in the background. It’s a beautiful drive up, and while the gently winding road almost puts me to sleep mid-sentence, I persevere.
Then, the Summit!
The three in the back are anxious to get moving, so they say their goodbyes and are gone. Me, I hang with Dr?No for a bit, chat about life. He and Spesh might come hike with me in August, assuming I’m where Dr?No needs to be at that time. I’ll be happy to have them, I assure him – and if I’m not there yet, maybe I can catch them. We’ll see.
Soon enough, it’s time for us to part ways, with much thanks and promises of more help, if necessary. I’m so, so lucky to have friends like him.
Shortly into the hike, there’s a couch? And trail magic in a repurposed dumpster? It’s apparently kind of sort of an ad for the hostel, which I’m thinking of staying at. I have to get there first, though.
I am just out of it, having missed my nap and trying to go without – I should’ve known better. Just should’ve. I tap out at around 3, try to find an acceptable combination of burning sun and freezing shade. I sleep regardless, 40 minutes gone.
When I get back up, there’s no pep in my step, and I still have 9 miles to go. I decide to call it early, figure if I sleep well I’ll be able to get up and out early, and into Big Bear for resupply in plenty of time to make a decision about next steps.
As I’m approaching one of the only ostensible campsites for miles, a guy passes me, and I watch him, some time later, drop pack in the spot. I groan, loudly – he protests he wasn’t trying to do that, and I believe him. I’m sad about having to move on, but he finds another spot nearby, and we both settle in. The wind once again screws me by changing direction once I’m done, and I resign myself to another night of loud ridgeline wind, stuffing my earplugs in before sleep.
Start: 210.8 • End: 259.4 • Day: 8.3 to Whitewater Preserve + 7.3 from Onyx Summit = 15.6
Notable Accomplishments: Got around the closure • Hung out with Dr?No • Ate first In & Out Burger ever
 Oh, and there was a Dugtrio in there, too. Just in case you thought my dreams weren’t nerdy enough.
 I’m wearing Altras. Hands down, they are the most popular shoe on the trail. I’d say 6/10 hikers are in Altras. But those footprints had to be mine.