We woke up to sunshine filtering into the tent. It is a chilly morning so we decided to warm up with breakfast and coffee at the picnic table. After our climb yesterday, we were taking our time, coaxing our stiff muscles into the idea of walking all day. Our hiker friends Smooth and Puffy were beginning to stir in their tents. After some breakfast and coffee, we filtered water from a hidden creek about 1/4 mile off trail. It was just a trickle and we had to get enough for a 17 mile water carry, so it took a long time to filter all we needed.
After chatting briefly with Smooth and Puffy, we head out into delightful hiking weather. The sky is bright blue, a perfect backdrop to the scenery of the day. It’s not too hot and there is a gentle breeze.
The trail stays between 8,000 and 9,000 feet today, traversing one long ridge after another. This is my kind of hiking. We are treated to spectacular views of the San Jacintos and San Gorgonio mountains. The snow on the moutnains is intense and bright in the cloudless sky. Giant junipers, cedars, pine trees cling to cliffs. Their roots are twisted and stretched over boulders. They provide ample shade and smell amazing.
“This is what heaven looks like”, I tell Jon.
We ooh and aah at each new vista and big tree we encounter. There is no sign of burn here and it’s refreshing to see. It seems like most treed parts of the Southern California section of the PCT have burned recently. At least recent enough that most trees have some soot on their trunks.
By noon it’s getting hot and we stop for a break. Lunch is near a rundown cabin under a giant tree so shaded we actually got cold!
In the afternoon we walk by a now closed private zoo. It was sad and strange to think of tigers, monkeys and other exotic animals living in the small metal enclosures, exposed to the sweltering California sun.
We see Puffy again. He’s got long, blonde hair and a content smile on his face. He seems to exude gratitude. We enjoy talking to him. He told us about his work on a farm in Alabama and growing sustainable food.
Soon we leave Puffy to wait for his friend Shaman. In the late afternoon we break for coffee under a lovely juniper. Life is beautiful, under this tree.
We hike into the dark and camp near a small stream. I make a quick dinner and we fall asleep in our little tent. It was a good day.