Part one --
The all-too-close howling and crying of coyotes woke us up at 5:30 in the morning. Once the alertness of being woken up by screaming wildlife wore off, we fell back asleep for an hour or so. We woke up slowly, packed up and headed back to the trail to start our day. Our original plan was to hike about 13 miles up trail to McDonalds.
'What is this?!' you may say. 'Isn't this supposed to be an epic adventure from desert to mountain?'. The answer is yes, it is an epic adventure; but, yes, this stretch goes through many civilized areas. Thus we enjoy it while we can (we do have 5 more months of this after all).
This was our adventure to the McDonalds: We started up what we thought was the PCT about a mile into the day, only to find it was the old PCT. We decide to hike on a bit knowing it would eventually meet up with the current PCT, and bushwhacked for about an hour through dense thorn bushes. Scraped and cut all over, we were faced with a wall of brush, and had to backtrack. Luckily we saw the trail from afar, and instead of back tracking and rehiking miles, we bushwhacked some more to the trail. Dirty, bleeding, and littered with ticks, we hiked on (obviously pulling off the ticks first).
We were winding in and out of valleys, switch backs, and ridge lines. A few hours later Andy quickly turns around runs back down the trail yelling Snake!, and I look forward to see the tail end of a giant Mojave rattler scooting into the bushes rattling its rattles like a maraca. The tail end was easily four fingers wide... It was a grand daddy for sure. After a few deep breaths, and a count to three, we ran past where we last saw snake, and hiked on (continuing to run for a little). Sorry, no picture -- it was gone in an instant!
Moving forward, we hit a valley of large sandy dune mountains. To look off to one side, it seemed as if the face just fell, and left a sheer sandy cliff. We treaded lightly, fearing if we jumped around, the same would surely happen to our side. Overlooking Highway 15 we start to descend and run through this steep valley with cool rock faces, a tiki man (not actually, but it looked like it!), and a small river running through.
Alas, we made it to the golden arches. With hungry bellies, we ate. On the menu between the two of us was:
4 big macs
2 double cheese burgers
1 jalapeño chicken sandwich
2 medium fries
3 apple pies
1 peach pie
1 ten piece nuggets
1 Oreo mcflurry
7 fountain drinks (gotta love free refills)
During lunch, Rick made it to the McDonalds an hour or so after, and a new hiker stopped in, too. We all hung out for a while, and they said they were hiking on. Thus...
Part two --
We left the arches a bit before five and were northbound again shortly after. The sun waned in the smog filled air as we moved swiftly to a small water cache five miles up trail. We hit a small cache that was not marked in our book. It was too soon, so we trekked on, trying to take on some climbing to make tomorrow a little easier.
When we got to our water cache it was a tadpole and sludge infested stone pit -- we trekked on. Two miles uphill we checked on a seasonal spring -- which was bone dry, and provided no place to camp! Without water or a place to set up shelter we began our night hike.
Hiking at night is, at first, an exhilarating thing. The wildlife becomes alive, you start to see fresh scat and the desert world wakes up. But after toying with the idea of hiking till midnight we stopped an hour and a half later to set up camp, even without water. The main reasons for this were getting spooked by a bird and something following us in the bush (probably a rabbit, but we clapped our poles together to scare it off!).
After pitching a quick camp on an old forest road we prepare for sleep and hope no rangers come and squash us!
-The Dusty Camel