Started: 08:00 @ MM 341.9 – Best Western, Cajon Pass (Elevation 3,076ft)
Finished: 14:30 @ MM 357.2 – Random flat bit of ground near dirt road (Elevation 6,468ft)
Water: Drank 3L, 2 coffee, SmartWater and Hot Chocy (courtesy of The Flash).
Food: Best Western Breakfast, Cashew Nuts, Protein Bar, Gummie Lifesavers, Couscous with Veggies and Tuna, Cookies and Nakd Bar
Wildlife: 2 Chipmunks, 1 Snakes and 0 Bears
Health: 0 Blisters, aching feet probably due to no shoe-off today!
As is so often the case with expectations, my much anticipated night of luxurious queen size hotel bed sleep was a major disappointment. For reasons that I am still trying to fathom, I allowed Chance to touch the A/C. While he slept soundly on the floor in a 20 degree down ZPacks bag, the rest of us froze our tits off and barely caught a wink! I can’t deny, I got up in a less than favorable mood and would have been more pissed off with Chance if I could have thought of a good excuse as to why I didn’t just turn the damn thing off in the middle of the night. An important lesson learnt … Never allow a man to control the temperature !!
I was also a tad tetchy about the day ahead. We had a major elevation gain and no water for more than 20 miles. This meant a heavy water carry and to make matters worse, I also had a full 5 day resupply. This basically all adds up to a heavy pack (35lbs or more) which is less than ideal with 25 miles of uphill to get through. The trail rumour mill was also working overtime on the Poodle Dog. There were reports of the stuff pretty much leaping up out of the earth and attacking hikers! Things were getting quite out of hand.As luck would have it the weather had taken a distinct turn towards the English … It was cold, cloudy and rain seemed imminent. This was both a good thing and a bad thing. On the positive side, the cooler air meant less water needed to be carried. Of course the down side to that would be colder nights and possibly snow (again!) at altitude. After weighing up all the facts (and the fiction) I declared that I was going to hike an easy 15 miles, dry camp and then go over the top and down the other side the following day. I was keen to avoid another frigid night of no sleep! The Colorado Hiker Flash favored my plan of attack, however Chance was once again almost completely out of food and desperately need to get to Wrightwood to pick up his resupply. One more night on the mountain and he probably would have eaten his own arm off! And so it came to pass that after 3 weeks and almost 350 miles together, Chance and I parted company.I walked totally alone for the first 4 hours, I didn’t pass or see anyone which is pretty unusual on the trail. I speculated that many may have taken a look at the weather and opted for a zero at the Best Western. I can’t deny, the thought did cross my mind. At mile 5 I came across a water cache, a little further on there was a trail register. Punkin Pie, Bacon, Eggsy, Pillow Talk and Aquaman were all a day ahead, but not many hikers had passed through this morning. I trudged on. About 9 miles in I found the Hiker Flash taking a break. I was tempted to stop and join them but the seemingly endless climb was starting to piss me off so much that I just wanted to get it over and done with … I pushed onwards and upwards!Around mile 13 the trail made some fairy sketchy traverses. I became aware that I was perhaps not quite as keen on heights as I had previously thought. One slip or stumble here and there was nothing to stop me from plummeting to my certain death. I focused very hard. As I continued to climb the air grew colder and the wind picked up. Even with the sun now shining it was pretty chilly. Finally the trail widened and converged with a dirt road. This would be tonight’s camp. It was super early but I didn’t care, I was just happy for today’s climbing to be over. I set up my tent in the prime sheltered spot and then kicked back and relaxed. About 30 minutes later The Flash turned up and joined me.After a most welcome and enjoyable late afternoon nap we reconvened for dinner at 6pm. When we started cooking we were still the only 2 tents on the site. By the time we had finished dinner there were about a dozen! It had turned into a happy gathering with both old and new faces joining us. By 8 o’clock the sun was tucked up in bed and so were all the hikers … Sadly the freezing temperatures had once exceeded expectations!