STORM IN THE DESERT
PCT DAY 34: Mile 618.3 – Mile 638.4
Tuesday May 17, 2016: 20.1 miles (32.2km)
We were woken several times through the night by gusts of wind that rattled through the rainfly on the tent. To me this sounded like footsteps. Each time I woke up it took ages to go back to sleep. At around 11pm we were woken up by someone calling “fruit for breakfast”. This was so strange, I can only think it was a hiker looking for friends called Fruit and Breakfast. I had dreams of waking up and finding oranges left by the trail. We were finally woken up just before sunrise by coyote howling somewhere in the distance. It was warm and wind had died down. Sadly there were no oranges left by the trail.
The beautiful warm and still conditions made for easy hiking early in the morning. The cloud cover added to the beauty of the distant vista. The clouds looked inky blue, full of rain. I was thinking we were lucky to have some cloud cover to keep conditions cool for the rest of the way to our next water resupply in 32 miles. The dark clouds seemed to be far away.
Hiking this morning seemed to be over endless ups and downs over giant sandhills fringed by Joshua trees. They were really sandy mountains as we were at around 6,000 feet in elevation. Over in the distance I could see a phone tower and got so excited to finally get reception after days of nothing. And just as I got reception the first message came through, the phone line dropped out and the sky opened, the most intense storm followed. It was hailing and it got really cold very quickly. I got my rain jacket out and got it on before getting soaked. I didn’t think the rain would last. But soon realised my pants were now getting wet. So a few minutes later I stopped again to get my rain pants on. I was now warm even if not completely dry. Probably 15 minutes later the rain passed. We got a message from Jim who left Tehachapi a day before us. It was good to hear that he made his shuttle bus out of Bakersfield to get home for his sons 16th birthday.
Frustratingly the phone tower did not provide a reliable signal, so it was not possible to upload the blog. The rain passed although the clouds hung around. We stopped for lunch 12 miles after we started this morning. It was great to have a bit of warmth after the icy cold downpour.
Soon after lunch we descended to a road crossing and received the most amazing trail magic. We met two couples out on a four wheel drive adventure. We stopped to chat a bit and parted with a bunch of the most sensational cold grapes, apples, snowpeas, pretzels and a full jar of Nutella. So ‘fruit for breakfast’ hiker last night got it wrong we had ‘fruit for lunch’. We were powered by those grapes for the next 4 miles of uphill hiking. We rose to just over 7, 000 feet and could still see their parked cars way down below on the road. At this elevation we were back in the pine forest again. As we hiked towards our campsite we got our first full glimpse of the snow covered high Sierra range. Pretty excited to see the high mountains. But a bit daunting to see so much snow cover.
On the way to our campsite Hammer sighted the first large wildlife, two mule deer grazing amongst the pines. He was able to watch them for a few minutes before they noticed him and walked away. We found a campspot amongst a grove of pine trees. One of the nicest spots we’ve had more recently. We fell asleep very happy in a Nutella induced coma.