PCT mile 228.0 to Whitewater Preserve
(10 miles, +1,200/-1,900 feet).
Thankfully, the wind died down last night around 8pm and it was calm and warm and not-too-uncomfortable in my sleeping-padless tent. I slept well.
BarnFinder and I packed up and got ready right after daybreak this morning. I ate my last piece of pizza (it’s not just for breakfast!) and then we set off shortly before 6am.
Since we only had ten miles left this morning, and since we were hiking south against the yearly migration of thru-hikers headed to Canada, we thought it only fitting to set a common thru-hiker goal for ourselves: ten by ten.
If you want to get from Mexico all the way to Canada you have to do 20+ miles a day to beat the winter snow in Washington, and the best way to do that is to take full advantage of the morning. So many thru-hikers try to do 10 miles by 10am.
Of course it is a lot easier for us given our lighter packs and the prospect of being back in our respective homes this evening, but it was still fun to give it a try.
After a few miles we had to say good bye to the lovely Mission Creek. A 600 foot climb carried us out of that watershed and up on a ridge where we got our first glimpse of Mount San Jacinto for the day.
The ridge walk was beautiful, with views of the ridges on either side and even a little peek at the snowy lower reaches of San Gorgonio Mountain.
We made our way down through one more little valley and had just one more small ridge to climb to reach the Whitewater River.
We would have to cross the Whitewater River twice. Fortunately the more difficult crossing was marked by a huge teepee-like structure that we could see from far away.
Shortly before the end we passed by a feature called “Red Dome” that is marked on all the topo maps. It was a bit underwhelming.
After nine and a half miles we turned off from the PCT and headed the last half mile to Whitewater Preserve where our car awaited. We arrived about 9:40am—ten by ten!
One last note. My inner geek (maybe not so inner?) is quite pleased about the number of thru-hikers we passed this morning. Yesterday I passed 100 hikers in about 24 miles, or about 4 per mile. If the distribution of hikers is roughly uniform, then one would expect to pass about 4 * 10 = 40 hikers in 10 miles, which is exactly what we counted!
It will really be lovely to one day be one of them.