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5/31, mile 652. The desert, and hanging in Ridgecrest

Rooster (Tim): What an incredible stretch. The desert has been unseasonably cold and rainy up until the last couple days. Then the sun finally came out, but not as bad as expected. It’s been in the ’80’s, and our water sources have been plentiful.

As mentioned in a previous post, we have some friends that were still living in the area. Ian and Kirstie became fast friends when I was stationed in Ridgecrest from 2006-09. Our kids were around the same age, and we all had loads of adventures together. They very graciously put us up for three days, despite already having a full house. Their oldest son had gotten married, and Ian’s folks were in town from England. It was so great to reconnect and see them again. We’ll be seeing them again over the next few days.

When we left Ridgecrest, we decided to change things up a bit by doing an 86 mile section southbound. It was a lot of fun running into all of our friends that were northbound (“You guys are going the wrong way!”) Incredibly, our first day we ran into fresh snow. Which was a not-so-subtle reminder that we’re not far from the Sierra’s now. This years record snowfall is on everyone’s mind, and will be the subject of our next blog post. Hope everyone is enjoying our trip so far!

Ian, Kirstie and us
With our son’s childhood friends, Matt and Caleb
Wind farm

Love this pic of Maverick
Piled in and heading back to the trail
45 degrees and sideways rain; this is the desert?
All this rain is bringing out the flowers

Looking down to the desert floor
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5/24, Mile 566. Crazy weather and wind farms!

So, SoCal is experiencing an exceptionally cold and rainy May this year. Luckily, we’ve got all of our rain gear, and have mostly managed to stay warm and dry. The last few days have been in the desert. Everyone had expected sunny skies in the 90’s, and instead we’ve gotten clouds and rain in the 50’s.

And of course, lots of wind! Some nights, it’s almost flattened the tent. But the wind farms have been fun to walk through. They go on for miles.

We’ve hiked as far as Tehachapi, and are currently taking some downtime in Ridgecrest. We were stationed here ten years ago, and some of our friends are still here. The Tidball’s had kids the same age as ours, and we all had lots of adventures together. Camping, 4x4ing, snowboarding, etc., we always seemed to be hanging together. And it’s been great to see them and catch up.

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5/16, mile 455, Agua Dulce

With our new friend, Leslie

Tim: It’s been awhile since we’ve updated, so let’s get up to speed!

Wrightwood was a great little town with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. It also might have some of the friendliest residents we’ve ever met. We got a hitch into town in the rain, with no solid plans for a place to stay. We immediately had the pleasure of meeting Leslie. She pointed us toward a great bar and grille, and started calling all the local trail angels she knew. Everybody was already booked up, so she offered up her place! We got a shower and met her three adorable dogs. She took us all over town to get our chores done, and had fun with her at karaoke. She was so kind and extremely generous in ways big and small, and we feel like we quickly developed a life long friend. We love you Leslie!

After leaving town, we set our sights on Mt. Baden-Powell. Named after the founder of the Boy Scouts, it was a tough climb through soft snow. Beautiful views at the top. Since then we’ve had heat, cold, wind, and rain. And every morning we still have a huge smile, and say “It’s a beautiful day!”

One new development: we both have our trail names! Charisse is “Maverick”, like in Top Gun. She’s definitely the pilot in our little duo, setting the pace and lighting off the afterburner from time to time. I have been dubbed “Rooster”. As a gag, I put a surgical glove over my head and nose, and blew it up. The fingers inflated like on a chicken’s head. Funny stuff, I think there’s a video of it a couple weeks ago.

We are currently at “Hiker Heaven” in Agua Dulce. It’s a great little compound of sorts, with everything a filthy hiker needs: showers, laundry, charging station, mail, tent space, and the smiling faces of all our trail friends. The trail angels here have been running it for years, and we are all So grateful for their generosity.

Our German friends Jannis and Pizza King
Crammed in the back of Leslie’s car

Game faces

Lazy snake, wouldn’t get off the trail

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5/9, mile 342, Cajon Pass/I-15

Charisse: The morning we left Big Bear, we had a fantastic brunch with friends and then lazily hit the trail early afternoon. And it has been a great week since then! Big mile days, fairly easy trail/terrain, and gorgeous views!

We had our biggest day yet on Monday at 23.5 miles, with stellar views all day. The next day allowed us a long lunch at a beautiful spot on the river, and a campsite next to a waterfall and river that night.

Yesterday, we were walking up a hill, and I heard quite a bit of buzzing around me. We hear bees and other bugs all the time, with lots of flowers along the trail, so I didn’t think much of it. I looked up and realized I was in a swarm of bees! I turned around quickly and said to Tim, “bees…lots of bees”. We started walking back down the hill away from them, and my quick-thinking hubby said, “It looks like they’re coming this way. Let’s lie down on the side of the hill and see if they move right past us.” Which they totally did. They were just moving down the hill on a breeze. My hero. 😍🥰

Later that day, it was getting hot as we were going by a gorgeous lake, and we were planning a lunch stop and maybe a swim at a picnic area coming up. Then we saw signs for…TRAIL MAGIC!! Fish Tank and his wife had an awesome set up in a pavilion with burgers, hot dogs, fruit, cold soda, and lots of snacks. We stayed for way too long enjoying good conversation and food with these awesome people.

Today we’re in Cajon Pass doing a small resupply and then hitting the trail in a couple of hours. Next stop: Wrightwood.

Overlooking Big Bear
Huge pine cones!

Trail magic!

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The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

5/4 Mile 266 (10% done!)

Charisse: Most days on the trail are awesome. Like when we stopped for water at the Mesa Wind Farm office, and they had fresh-cut fruit, Klondike bars, and cold water for hikers. Yum! And, we got our dog fix by loving up their resident golden retriever, Nala. The day ended with a gorgeous camp spot right next to a river. We were able to dunk ourselves and feel marginally clean. It was glorious.

Other days are soul crushing. Like when we thought we had a challenging, but doable 20-mile day with 6000 feet of elevation gain. But nothing could’ve prepared us for THE GORGE. We were in this river canyon nearly the whole day. We crossed the river dozens of times, lost the trail multiple times, marched around in wet, heavy shoes, scrambled up dirt and gravel hills, and walked through fields of ankle-twisting river rocks. We thought it would never end. To add insult to injury, after we were out of the gorge, there were multiple deadfalls over the trail…too many to count. Each of them requiring a scramble up or down the hill to get around them. We were at the very end of our exhausted rope. And then…we saw camp! We plodded through our nightly routine, ate some garlic mashed potatoes, didn’t care about brushing our teeth, and conked out. But we got our 20 miles, hard won as they were. We didn’t quit.

Today is a zero day in beautiful Big Bear Lake. We caught a big, hearty breakfast and are running around doing our “town chores”…laundry, shopping, picking up mail. Rest days are awesome, but we’re excited to get back on the trail tomorrow. 😁

JERKY! Instant morale booster, thanks to Simply Snackin
Mesa Wind Farm trail magic, and their mascot Nala.
Pro level cuisine: instant potatoes, tuna, spinach, olive oil, and taco seasoning . Yum!
Mesa Wind Farm
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4/30, mile 201: Fun in Idyllwild, and the San Jacinto Wilderness

Tim: We had so much fun in Idyllwild! I met the mayor of Idyllwild, who is a dog named Max. We wound up staying for two zeros; partially to heal up, mostly to enjoy this cute mountain town. We ran into most of our trail friends, and made sure to enjoy a lot of town food.

Part of this experience is just chatting with people in town. We met a really nice couple who had driven up for the weekend. They live down in the desert and run a newspaper called the Desert Review. I took a pic of their dogs Asher and Baxter, and promised they’d be featured in the blog.

We got back on the trail yesterday, and the San Jacinto Wilderness is proving to be beautiful, but very challenging. We had fog, cold mist, and slushy snow for a slow 8 miles before calling it a day when it started to sleet. Then we got to Fuller Ridge! It lived up to its snow filled, can’t find the trail, wish it was over, reputation. But we made it through; on to the next leg!

Hoops enjoying coffee with Redi-wip and maple syrup

More town food; Doc tearing up a burger

Our room in Idyllwild

Pac-Man
Isaiah

Hoops

Peter Dude: “Don’t eat me Asher”!
Asher and Baxter

Above the clouds at 9000 feet
200 miles