Monday, April 7, 2008

Third Day on the Trail - April 5th

After a very good nights sleep, I drug myself out of the tent late (7:20) to find Nelius already getting his gear packed up. I jumped on breakfast, granola and a pop-tart. Once we finished eating and getting our gear packed up, we pumped a little water from a tiny creek near by and got ready to make up time! We set a lofty goal of getting to highway 138, 16 MILES AWAY! We needed to get there to get back on schedule. So off we went.

Nothing like breakfast with good friends!

Looking back at our camp site, with yesterdays trail in the distance.

I followed this mystery fellow all morning...and then he followed me all afternoon. Weird huh?!?

One of the many creek crossings.

This little Gardner Snake and I had a stand off on the trail. He finally gave up and slithered off into the brush.

We finally arrived at another major land mark. Pilot Rock Truck Trail, which leads to Silverwood Lake. Silverwood Lake is a HUGE lake, and we have been looking forward to eating lunch there the whole morning. We were making GREAT time today, so it was nice to see our 16 mile goal becoming a real possibility.

When we got to this road it dawned on us, we had crossed the half way point in our hike. This road was 30 miles from the start!!!!!!! WOOO HOOOOO!

That farthest mountain you can see in the middle of this photo is where we were the day before at lunch time. It's amazing how long it can take when the trails wind in and out of the mountains.

This HUGE pile of rock is holding Silverwood Lake in place.

When we took a right at the junction of the trail and this road ahead, we were a little confused as to where the trail went...until we saw the familiar little PCT sticker on this guard rail. This trail is amazing, some times it's not a trail, sometimes it's a road, highway, bike path or parking lot. You just never know. That's what kept it exciting!

This was the second spillway we saw on this hike. This one is for Silverwood Lake which we hadn't seen yet. Even though we had been hiking parallel to it for an hour. It's up on that hill behind Nelius and I in these photos...the anxiety is killing us!

This power plant was the reason the trail was diverted onto this highway. It was nice, however, to walk on nice level pavement for a little while. It was kind of weird to see cars whizzing by though. We hadn't seen many cars in the past 2 days.

This was a really exciting find for me. Another Trail Angel!!! This one was amazing. It was full of bottled water, oranges, strawberries and a log book with a note inside. The note introduced the owners of this cooler as "Team Turtle" and asked that we please sign their log book. So I got that taken care and enjoyed a terrific orange! Thanks Team Turtle....whoever you are!

Yeah for ORANGES!!

After eating my orange and climbing up a monster hill, we FINALLY saw the lake, and what a lake it is!!! Look at that fog on top of the mountains. Oh yeah...our destination of Highway 15 is on the other side of those mountains. Yikes.

In the center of this photo you can see the rim of the spillway that we photographed earlier. So, this was on the opposite end of the lake from where we crossed the Pilot Truck Trail.

The trail stayed relatively low on the hill sides around the lake, and a cool breeze was very comfortable. We spotted a nice lunch spot, and had to do some bush whacking to get down to it. It turned out to be the Chamise Boat In Picnic Area. It had nice covered picnic benches, and bathrooms. There were a few people there that had come in via boat, but it was still a nice quiet spot to enjoy lunch and the view.

What an incredible view. This part of the trail was a real treat!

HIGHWAY 138!!!! We did it, 16 miles in one day!!! If you notice the white pickup on the other side of the freeway, that was a forest ranger that saw us coming and stopped to wait for us. He wanted to make sure we found where the trail picked up on the other side of the highway, his hospitality was just the tip of the ice burg for this little area. More on that in a few minutes!

This was the sign on the other side of the highway where the trail picked back up. HOLY COW! Look how far we have come, only 13.6 miles to go!!!

This sign was even crazier!!! Can you imagine thru hiking the whole trail!?!?! Mexico to Canada...2658 Miles. That's doing our hike over 49 times!!!

Here is where the first "story" took place on our trip (everyone is always asking me about a story from the trip...well here it is). Nelius knew there was a camp ground near the lake, and I knew there was a camp ground across the freeway about 1/2 mile past the sign in the photo above. So, we decided to go the campground that was in the direction we were traveling rather than back track across the freeway and up the other side of the lake to the major camp ground at Silverwood Lake Recreation Area. Well, we were both right...kind of. The campground I was speaking of, turned out to be a group camping only area. So, after talking to a forest ranger had to decide if we wanted to backtrack over a mile to go to the campground and have a camp fire, or if we wanted to continue on the trail and look for a spot to camp someplace where we couldn't have a camp fire (camp fires are only allowed in developed camp grounds because of fire danger). We decided we were ready for a camp fire! So we backtracked...on the pavement an additonal mile ontop of the already 16 we had done! This was the view from the spot we turned around. So we walked right back under the freeway and up the road to the Silverwood Lake Recreation Area.

The first order of business was dinner. We had to use the fire pit because it was REALLY windy in camp and everything was getting blown off the picnic table. In fact it was so windy that I couldn't set my hammock, or rain fly up. I was mentally preparing for a night slept on my sleeping pad in the bushes out of the wind. I wasn't looking forward to it.

Nelius found a nice plot of land in the bushes protected from the wind to get his tarp tent set up. You can tell a little how windy it is in this photo. His tarp is all puffed up from the wind...and this was completely surrounded by high bushes!

When we arrived at the camp ground we were greated by friendly smiles from three camp hosts and offered ice cold bottles of water. This is where the hospitality picked back up from the first range who waited for us so we didn't get lost. These people were TERRIFIC! They love seeing hikers coming through their camp, and we were the first ones they had seen this season. This is because most of the thru-hikers (meaning they are going from Mexico to Canada in one trip) wouldn't be in this area for another 3-4 weeks. When I looked at the camp site price list I almost passed out, it was $25 for a camp site...then the lady asked us for $2 each! The discount for being a hiker is BIG! They even have a special secluded area for hikers, away from the family camp sites and closer to the lake. It was terrific. The first order of business was to buy some firewood. I started walking around the camp ground looking for someone who might be selling bundles of it (as I could see many campers had bundles laying near their fire pits). That's when two park rangers pulled up in a forest service car and I flagged them down. I asked them where I could buy some firewood. They told me the camp ground was sold out but they thought the marina had one or two left. I asked where the marina was and was informed it was ONLY 5 miles up the highway. I told them I couldn't hike that far, and they gave me attitude and asked why I didn't just drive up there..."well, fellas, we just hiked in on the PCT and I don't feel like hiking 10 miles round trip and carrying firewood for half of it". They immediatly said "oh, your the hikers that just came in...oh just ignore the NO GATHERING WOOD signs all over and get what you need! You guys have to have a fire". Wow...the hospitality continues in the form of rule bending, perfect! So, I went out in the forest and gathered up some dead tree limbs and got a fire started. Just about the time we were running out of the stuff I gathered I decided to head for the rest room, and on the way back a guy in a golf cart flagged me down and asked if I was one of the hikers that had just got in...I couldn't help but notice the two bundles of firewood in the back of the cart. I told him yes, and he told me he had firewood for me, that the other two rangers had sent him to town to get it for us. I was blown away, so we got a bundle of firewood, and amped up the fire!

I take pride in my fires.

Even in a campground, you have to hang the food.

At this point in the evening, around 9pm, the wind had finally subsided enough that I could hang my hammock. I did a different setup with my rain fly in an effort to try to keep the wind out if it picked up again, I wrapped the ends of the rain fly around to points at the end of the hammock. It worked....but oh boy did it get windy!

There's the hammock hanging under the rain fly.

We got to bed at about 9:30 pm, after a nice dinner of terrific Spicy Enchilada Soup, with chicken. I feel asleep quick...then at 10:52 pm (I had time to look at my watch) it sounded like a freight train was coming down the mountain! THE WIND WAS BACK! I road that hammock like a carnival ride for nearly two hours. It was swinging back and forth inside the rain fly about 2 feet in each direction. I laid there wondering how many seconds I had before the rain fly shredded, and the hammock with me in would come crashing down. Thankfully the rain fly held strong, the hammock didn't collapse, and the wind finally let up again so I could get some sleep. What a night!

Today we covered 16 miles of the PCT, with an additional 1 mile of pavement backtracking. But at least the staff of the Silverwood Lake Rec. Area treated us like kings! Here is a map of what we covered on Day 3.

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