Sally and I have enjoyed the last three days together, her days off. We visited the Valley twice to ride bikes and enjoy the booming waterfalls. Also, we made a trip to Sonora, about 75 minutes away, to do some shopping. Interspersed between those events we did repairs to her house, met her coworkers, hot tubbed at the Rush Creek resort 2 miles down the road and enjoyed a community campfire.
Mice have been a problem since Sally moved in. I brought with me a can of expanding foam insulation with which I plugged gaping holes in the floor left under her kitchen sink by the plumber. The same in her bathroom. I also used the foam to plug big holes in her roof that poured water into her home when it rained. We have been mouseless for three nights. Must have plugged the right holes.
Sally and I enjoyed a breakfast of Special K, then I said goodbye and headed out her door while she continued to get ready for work. I started the Honda and began my 5 hour 45 minute drive to Lancaster and the start of my 5 day, 85 hike northward on the PCT. With a quick fill up in Oakhurst, it was non stop to Lancaster. As I drove through Mojave, I noticed the Eastern Sierra bus pulling out in front of me. Checking the clock, nearly noon, I realized that this was the same bus I would be riding Monday morning to get back to my car. GPS was guiding me to the address of the bus stop in Lancaster, but I decided to follow the bus. Although the GPS and the bus driver did not agree on the route, both ended up at the same spot, the Metrolink terminal. I had picked this spot so on my return I could just step off the bus and be at my car, allowing me to quickly get traveling back to Sally in Yosemite.
I was not sure how long it would take to get a Lyft driver, so I immediately ordered one, then grabbed my pack and put on my hiking shoes. Before I got the laces tightened, Juan arrived-less than a minute. Luckily, I had everything ready to go before I left. I threw my pack in his trunk, double checked the Honda to be sure I had left nothing, and we were off.
I must admit I was a bit unsettled. From the moment I turned off my car until I was flying down the highway to the PCT in Juan’s car was no more than 5 minutes. No time for introspection and review of my gear. I reminded myself that I had purposely sealed up my pack days earlier for just this scenario and in this I found solace.
It was about a half hour drive to the trailhead. Coming over the rise, I immediately recognized the terrain from four years earlier. Juan braked to a stop right at the trailhead. I pulled my pack from the trunk, shouldered it, said thanks to Juan and just like that I was on the PCT.
The weather in Lancaster had been nearly total blue skies with a puffy cloud here and there. Here in the mountains between the LA Basin and the desert clouds obscured the sun and touched the ridges I was climbing toward. These clouds made for comfortable hiking temperatures, although a steady wind made it somewhat cool.
I did not know how far I would or could go. I hoped to hike about ten miles. I walked away from the Juan’s car at 1:38 pm, so I had ample time to cover some distance. As it turned out, I was able to get 12 miles under my belt, passing through about 8 miles of area burned 5 years ago and 4 miles showing me the beauty that had been destroyed by the fire. For the last four miles I was in oak trees, lush grass, verdant manzanita and a litany of desert shrubs. I settled for the night in lush grass between towering oaks on a ridge top. Hopefully, you picture a magnificent setting. However, a 20-30 mph wind was blowing thick clouds through those towering oaks who were doing their best to extract the water from the clouds and deposit it on the ground. I had to pitch my tarp to keep dry. Within an hour or so everything I had was gooey with wet. It was a cool, wet and uncomfortable night. I kept reminding myself the forecast for the days ahead was a warming trend and full sun. I also kept repeating “this is supposed to be a desert hike!”