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Learning Your Lessons 

Being out here is all about learning new lessons. On the AT we didn’t have to get into the swing of things because we had never done a thru hike before, it was all brand new it us. But because this is our second it does feel like we are working back into a lifestyle we were once pros at. And it has taken longer than I though it would. Which makes sense because it is different. Even though we have done this once before we still make mistakes and learn lessons. For example… 

On Wednesday we popped into Big Bear City to pick up some food we had bounced ahead to ourselves. We didn’t fancy carrying a full resupply over San Jacinto so we sent most of our food ahead to be picked up later. A quick hitch into town was easy from the pass at HWY 18. The people who picked us up had a nice big truck for us to throw our packs into the back of, and pointed out their huge yellow barn at the far end of waterless Baldwin Lake as they drove us into town. The wife told us stories of being a bus driver for the local school district. They loved living up here. When they dropped us off at the post office we thanked them, walked inside, got our packages, and set about figuring out how many days we were going to be out and how much food we needed to supplement our drop with. Ultimately we were sitting pretty pretty, just a couple of snacks to buy, so we started packing up. That was when Kyle froze, stooped next to his pack, and looked up at me, terror in his eyes. My first thought was that he had lost the camera.  Since it is the most expensive thing we own I am constantly concerned about its wearabotus and wellbeing. But the camera was safely attached to his pack, so it wasn’t that. 

“I don’t have my trekking poles.” 

I suddenly realized I didn’t have my trekking poles either. None of us had our trekking poles, we had left them in the back of the truck that we had hitched in. Noob move. Maybe for most people this wouldn’t be SUCH a big deal, but both of our tents set up with trekking poles, so without them we were kind of screwed. We immediately turned into detectives. What did we know about the people that had given us the hitch, how could we use that? Luckily for us they had actually pointed out their house, so even though we didn’t know their names we knew where they lived. We also knew what the woman did for a living. A woman, who had overheard our plight, offered to drive the boys around to look for the house. I, meanwhile, got on the phone to the school district, attempting to identify the woman and potentially reach her. The people at the school district were surprisingly helpful, part of me wonders if they were just bored and my problem sounded like a fun wild goose chase. Unfortunately the trail went cold somewhere around the bus barn and I never got a call back from Kevin or Kyle or whatever the head of transportation’s name was. I was on the phone to my mom, telling her of our woes (my blistered feet and lack of a pharmacy and now our missing trekking poles to boot) when the boys showed back up. They had found the house and had been in the process of writing a note when the guy pulled up in the truck. He was impressed they had hunted him down but he had actually dropped the poles off at the Community Market for us, which was a clever move. All was right in the world again. 

Except my feet hurt, and we were all hungry, and the Community Market had a measly first aid resupply and we had wasted a lot of time finding our trekking poles so the ten miles we were planning on doing that day seemed daunting. I threw a tiny tantrum and basically forced Kyle into deciding that we needed to take a nero at the Motel 6 in town. This pleased me very much. The Motel 6 was far from fancy but it was dirt cheap and had a channel that played satisfyingly action packed movies. We watched Oceans 11 and The Rock (which has inspired me to want to watch way more Nicholas Cage movies) and eventually ordered a massive amount of Chinese food which they had to deliver to us in a box. It was delicious. The next morning, after failing to get a hitch for a good thirty minutes we called the only Uber in the area and ubered to the trail. How urban of us. 

We were now armed with a massive amount of medical supplies but my blister situation had not improved. We still managed to put in a 26 mile day, ending at an incredible campsite by a stream. A real flowing clear beautiful stream which we washed our feet in and splashed around in, squealing with surprise at how cold it was. Who knew a simple trickle of water could so significantly change a day. 

The next day we got up a little later and the trail continued to drop slowly in elevation. Most of the day took place in Deep Creek Canyon, which also had a real creek flowing down in its depths. It was a hot day. Shade breaks were a must. Eventually we arrived at the Deep Creek Hot Springs, which is a popular spot for locals and hikers alike. It was bustling, this being Memorial Day Weekend, and naked hikers with weird tan lines were cajoling with wrinkled old men and bronzed beauties. We basked in the shade instead, trying to decide if we wanted to go in here or continue on to our campsite, which was also on Deep Creek and probably offered a significantly more private, quiet, peaceful swimming situation. After getting more water and eating snacks and receiving the blessings of the long haired locals who were sitting next to us eating peaches out of a tin can (I have never wanted to shout, “Look, free weed!”, and steal someone peaches from them while they are distracted more than I did in that moment) we peaced out for our own private beach and swimming hole. It wasn’t far down the trail, and we found the trail down to the water shortly after crossing the Rainbow Bridge, a bridge that is in fact, painted like a rainbow. Except for a couple of gang slogans graffitied on the surrounding cliffs, a giant boulder in the creek sporting the words “Fuck the Feds”, and a rock wearing a bandana it was a lovely spot. We all cleaned our feet and attempted to catch river trout but gave up and let them nibble our toes instead. Then we faced the daunting task of setting up non-freestanding tents in sand, meaning we did a lot of rock hunting and stacking to get our stakes firmly burried. Dinner, frivolity, and cool night air brought bed time around and the bull frogs sang us to sleep. 

That brings us to today. Another hot day was forecasted so we got up early to hike out of the canyon. Today we had a couple of emergency poops, booked a hotel for our upcoming stay in Wrightwood, and learned to correctly identify poison oak. And we trudged in the heat. We were gunning for the Silverwood Picnic Area, a fabled shaded spot on a lake. A lake!?!? Here we are in the desert, where we haven’t seen true water for weeks and in two days we might get to go swimming twice? It seemed too good to be true. And as if a lake wasn’t enough, a mile out from our rest stop destination we ran into a trail magic cooler, stocked with surprisingly healthy snacks, most importantly hard boiled eggs, which we were very excited to see. I swear we had been fantasizing about hard boiled eggs a couple of days ago. I am not going to lie, we are cutting it a little close on snacks this time out, so seeing that trail magic was, well, magic. That little stop gave us the boost we needed to hoof it up to the top of the hill. We crested the ridge and what greeted our eyes was pure paradise. Typically I am very opposed to man made lakes, especially in a place as dry as this, but when you havent’t seen a true body of water in weeks it is a beautiful sight. Now we are sitting under a shade structure, fresh from a swim in the lake, waiting for the desert to cool off so we can hike a couple more miles to camp. I feel refreshed and revived after these last couple of water filled days, and even though I know they are far and few between I will cherish whatever water I can get. 

PS After I wrote this post at the lake we continued on for a couple more miles. Our plan was to grab water at a campground and then hike a few more miles to camp, in order to make the day into Cajon Pass shorter. The trail passes by the campground where we were planning on getting water but we didn’t really see a distinct side trail so we forged our own through some tall grass and popped out in the middle of what looked like a giant private party of group get away that was taking place in the campgrounds pavilion. We quickly veered down the path so as not to interrupt but they noticed us and started yelling. Yelling at us to come eat all of their food. I’m not kidding, they fed us until we thought we were going to explode. They actually tried to send us away with a box of roasted corn, which we had to turn down. It was the best surprise trail magic we have had yet. Many f them were very interested in what we were doing and wanted to take pictures with us. They tried to get us to stay and watch Inside Out with them and eat breakfast with them in the morning, but Cameron forced us to push on. These are the days on trail that I live for. How could you not? 

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