Day 24: McDonalds Bound

Total miles: 26.2 miles 

Start: mile 321.0

End: mile 347.1

Total elevation gain/loss: 3789.7/3680.8ft

Still working on those early starts. Today we set the alarm for 4:30 and only hit the snooze button twice! We were fortunate that the wind died down during the night, although I was surprised that we had condensation this morning despite our seemingly dry surroundings. Can’t blame the tent because we cowboy camped. I give up on trying to figure that one out.

The moon was so bright last night!

We were treated again to the early morning sun as we cut across the mountains. I can’t get enough of these early mornings! After a few miles we passed yet another dam (with space for several tents) and shortly thereafter a cooler appeared next to the trail. Trail magic! We each had a hard boiled egg and split an apple. Fresh food is such a wonderful treat!

Trail magic!

This morning was also my morning for wildlife sightings, with a deer and (dead) baby skunk added to the list! I didn’t manage to get a picture of the deer and I’ll spare you the picture of the dead baby skunk.

We made great time this morning (early morning starts are the best) and we soon came upon Silverwood Lake. We went slightly off trail to stop at a boat-in picnic site along the lake complete with toilets, picnic tables, and lots of trash scattered about (again, a lot of beer bottles and other stuff that most hikers wouldn’t carry, but still sad to see).

The rest of the morning was through a very exposed section with occasional water sources. I made my 10 by 10 again, which is always a great feeling. 

Around lunch time we stopped at our final water source until Cajon Pass (in 9 miles). It even had a little bit of shade in between all the poison oak! We hid in the bushes for shade and chatted with Kimmy and Mike from Alaska, and completely forgot to yard sale our sleeping bags to dry them out from last night’s condensation.

We left lunch determined to make it to Cajon Pass, and it’s McDonalds, in time for dinner. We don’t normally go to McDonalds, but the thought of soft serve and fatty, salty food was irresistable. The miles started with some brush cover and plant life, but quickly became desolate as we went over a couple passes. Strong wind lashed at us and whipped us around. I had to lean into the wind in order to avoid being knocked over. I’d wanted wind to combat the heat, but this was a bit much!

Walking the ridge line was awesome.

A couple miles before the pass we stopped in a flat, sunny spot (all the spots were sunny, so flat was the only real requirement) to yard sale our stuff. I suspected that we could have done so at McDonalds, but I didn’t want to look more homeless than I already do (although, to be fair, we are sort of homeless). We sat in the hot sun as our sleeping bags dried, with the only shade being from our umbrellas.

Soon it was McDonalds time. Michael put in his advance order and I had his Oreo McFlurry (with hot chocolate sauce, because apparently you can do that) ready when he walked through the door. The place was surprisingly hiker friendly, not batting an eye at all the dirty hikers who were camped out in the restaurant. They even set up power outlets for us to use to charge our electronics.

After savoring our cold McFlurries, it was time for dinner. I had already decided that I was not going to over-eat and be one of those people who gets sick right after McDonalds, so I went with a bacon cheese burger, fries, and a drink. And of course, I soon felt miserable. Too much dairy? Sugar? Who knows.

It was also about this time that we realized that it was further to Wrightwood than we thought. I don’t know why, but for some reason I thought it was only 16 more miles and we’d be able to cruise in early the next day. Turns out it’s more like 27 with a huge elevation gain. Ugh. And there are pretty much no water sources for that stretch. Double ugh.

Despite feeling like I might throw up, I opted to continue on tonight instead of paying to stay at the Best Western nearby. Staying overnight would mean a delay in getting to Wrightwood and would mean a bigger water carry (because more hiking time in the middle of the day). So we loaded up on water — 8 liters between the two of us. We saw others carrying more water than us, but I think (hope) we’ll be fine. Our packs are heavy enough as it is.

Just past McDonald’s, the trail passes under I-15

Off we went. Uncertain of if I’d puke. And we knew we had to go 5 miles to camp because of the terrain and the frequent trains that go roaring through the area. This would mean matching our longest day yet.

Actually, once I decided that I wasn’t going to throw up it was okay. I got my energy back and for the first time of the trip we hiked into the darkness (with headlamps). We found a flat spot at around 9 and opted to cowboy camp again (no pics because it was dark). At this point I don’t care if I get wet. On the water front,we barely drank any this evening, so hopefully we’ll be okay tomorrow. 

The contrail lines lit up in bright pink after the sun went down (hard to make out, so just trust me).

Current ailments:

Elizabeth: a new blister to match yesterday’s. Lucky me! They don’t really bother me yet though.

Michael: muscle tightness in upper legs.

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