We wake around 6 am. Our tent is cozy. But the air is cool and if we wait to rise, we will walk in the heat. We had a taste of that yesterday, and we’d prefer to avoid a repeat.
Lupine asks for 5 more minutes, so I pack my gear as she soaks up the last few minutes of rest. Then we are off.
We furlough breakfast in favor of early morning miles. But we nibble energy bars to fuel our legs. After yesterday, we are eager for a better day, less tormented by the nature of humanity. Our goal is to make it to Silverwood Lake before the heat is unbearable. We will rest there then continue 5-8 more miles when the air begins to cool.
We ride along the trail as it curves around the hillside, taking us from sun to shade. As time goes on the sun goes higher, and there are fewer steps made in the shade. After 2 hours we’ve gone 5 miles and we stop in the shade for breakfast. There are no ideal spots so we boil water in the middle of the trail for coffee.
Two hikers come by from the opposite direction. They ask us about our trip and how many miles we’ve been doing. We explain that we’ve recently been doing 15 or more miles but it depends on the terrain and we’re also 3 weeks in, so we started at fewer miles, to help avoid an injury. We chat and then they continue. We’re left sipping our coffee.
The trail continues on the hillside, walking through yellow flowering bushes, then it crosses the highway, descends and parallels a road. We walk along barbed wire fences and spot giant metal pipes dwarfed by only the mountains over their shoulders. We point at them and say, that’s where we came from yesterday. It’s hard to believe all the land we’ve traveled.
We stop briefly next to the road as we notice our phones getting light service. I hear footsteps on the gravel before I spot our friend Horse appear before us. We hike with him past a power plant, up a hill, to perch over Silverwood Lake. It’s a pretty lake but we’ve heard rumours about toxic algae and not to drink the water. We’re not sure if they’re true, but it’s not worth taking the risk. We hike for several miles above the coastline of the lake. I take the lead, spotting for poison oak and pointing it out to Lupine.
We’ve developed a system of specialities. I take the lead and spot for poison oak when we’re in areas where it’s expected. Lupine looks out for snakes, because so far she’s been the one to spot them. And I’m pretty much terrified of them, although she tells me I managed myself well during both of yesterday’s encounters.
When we finally reach the park At the end of Silverwood Lake, around noon, it’s scorching hot. Lupine, Horse and I find a spot under a covered picnic area and camp out for several hours. We eat. We clean our faces, stretch, chat, look for outlets to charge our electronics from, then eat again at about 4 pm. After eating, Horse takes off to finish 5-7 more miles. The wind has picked up and makes the air better conditioned for movement. Lupine and I plan to follow shortly behind.
As we pack up our gear I remember to go pick up my solar backup battery. I use it as a backup battery for my phone. You can charge it from an outlet but it also has a small solar panel on it which is arguably useless. Yet, still I like to place it in the sun just to try to get some extra juice.
I look around the sidewalk where it split in two directions, next to a green grassy field. My charger is gone. I know I hadn’t already picked it up. We’ve been the only people in this area of the park since we arrived, although, there was one small family group that passed by about 30-40 minutes ago. One of them must have seen the charger and grabbed it. They likely thought it had been left behind by someone. But we were maybe 30 ft away with camping gear splayed on our picnic tables. Why wouldn’t it occur to them to ask us if it was ours?
I’m filled with frustration. When your thru-hiking, you try to carry minimal items to minimize your weight, making it easier to hike. So everything you do bring serves a function. I consider my backup battery a luxury but also a crucial piece of gear that fulfills an important function. It allows me to recharge my phone, which is what I use to write in my trail journals, and take pictures and video. Without it, I run the risk of losing battery and not being able to journal. That makes me sad.
We search the campground for the people but it appears they’ve already left. So, again frustrated by humans, we hike upward into the hills.
By this time it’s after 6, and the air again is cool. As we rise above the lake my spirits gently lift as I look out at the mountains around the lake. They almost look like little islands.
We hike onward into the night again spotting bats overhead. It’s dark by the time we encounter Horse with his light on inside his tent. There’s no room for another tent so we push on further into the darkness. We become focused on our feet as if we’re walking through a tunnel. Miles fade under foot. Then a bark tears through the night. It startles our senses as it continues. I see a light in the distance where the dog must be located. I picture a german shepherd or doberman pinscher as it continues to bark, echoing into the darkness. I can tell it hasn’t come closer so I relax knowing that.
We hike two more miles before finding a damp spot. Hungry again we pitch our tent and snack on nuts and mango inside. We fall asleep to the flap of wind. Occasionally a jet flys overhead, presumably from LAX. I hear a train in the distance before I fall asleep.