PCT day 7 – Into the desert

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Windy camp (201.1) to Interstate 10 (209.5)

8.4 miles

I didn’t have to wake up at all. The wind had kept me up all night. And not only the wind. The temperature didn’t drop at all and so I was sweating underneath my sleeping bag which I needed for protection from the gusts of wind and sand blowing into my tent. I was most concerned about the zippers of my inner tent. Last time I was on the PCT they stopped working during a sandstorm. At that time I had to “close” my tent door with some safety pins. Not something I ever wanted to have again.

The campsite short after an on-trail water source had been crowded last night. Even after all halfway good spots were taken some hikers showed up in desperate need for a level spot.

Now that I was hiking down the mountain and descending into the desert I didn’t see too many camping options and I was wondering where all these hikers stayed last night.

The landscape changed quite a bit as I hiked down the mountains. The sand colored big boulders were a nice sight between the small grown desert shrubs and the occasional wildflower made my day perfect! In some sections lots of yellow bushes were flowering while in others impressive stone formations dominated. I took my time going down as I had arranged a pick up with my friend Mary at 6 pm at the Interstate.

Eventually I would reach The Valley floor and the much needed water spigot that was in place. Unfortunately shade was scarce and so I squeezed between the spigot and a rock to be halfway out of the sun. I stayed for about an hour and watched lizards and butterflies get their water.

Around midday every bit of shade was gone and I filled up my water bottles to make it to the Interstate and beyond. First I hiked on a paved road until the trail led me on sand again. I went underneath some powerlines and the sand turned more and more into a beach. It was super hot and super windy!

Short before the Interstate 10 I reached a section without any bushes and the beach-like sand was even deeper. I held on to my sun hat as I fighted against the hard blowing wind. It felt like walking backwards! While hiking towards the I10 I watched the occasional long trains coming by on the tracks that ran parallel to the road. From the distance I could already see four black holes framed by concrete marking the underpass I would have to go through.

It was around 1:30 and I prepared for a long wait out of the wind and sand when I saw the silhouettes of people and two coolers appear deep into the underpass. A group of chairs filled up with hikers was standing there besides a table with fresh fruit, fruit salad, cookies, crisps and all kinds of hiker foods. And of course three coolers fills with c refreshing sodas and beer. Bang bang and her friend have come here to give back to the trail community after having hiked the PCT in 2017.

I grabbed a cool drink and a chair and settled for a few hours to chat and watch the hikers pass. Dutch Man – an injured hiker – was offering rides into town. It was short before 5 pm when another hiker called out that the ride for Sonja was here. I grabbed my pack, said a big thanks and goodbye to my first trail magic people and headed towards the end of the underpass. Mary and Jim already waited for me. And here I am lying again in a comfortable bed enjoying a full rest day before I head back into the trail towards Big Bear Lake.

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