13 April 2021
Fuller Ridge Campground to Tamarack Road
PCT Mile 190.5 to 209.6
It was COLD last night! It seemed about high 30s. I slept in all my clothes except my rain jacket to keep warm, which was fine, but it was painful getting up to pee with shoes still wet from the snow.
Fortunately, the shoes were dry this morning when I put them on! The dry gentle breeze in camp worked its magic.
And speaking of magic, strong onshore winds brought the marine layer right up to Gorgonio Pass today. We watched it struggle with the hot dry air of the Coachella Valley before finally fizzling out. But it kept churning and churning, flowing like a treadmill destined for nowhere.
Today was supposed to be an easy 19 miles downhill out of the snow to the 10 where we would Uber to town. But once again we faced some challenges.
I worked hard to keep my knees healthy in the 6,000 foot descent, and as we got lower the wind picked up more and more. We took several breaks.
With so much elevation loss, we passed through all the various eco-zones we’ve seen since the Mexican border, but in reverse. It was like traveling back in time!
We saw many of the plants we’ve already seen. But I was also eager to find some new flowers, and the day didn’t disappoint.
Mid-morning we crossed a cool milestone.
We also saw our second rattlesnake, a baby that quickly retreated below a rock.
The last few miles down to Snow Creek were crazy. The wind was so strong I actually repacked my bag so it wouldn’t act like a kite trying to drag me off a cliff!
By 2pm we were at the Snow Creek faucet. It’s shaped like a drinking fountain but it’s non-potable! Go figure.
Also: try getting water into a bottle from that with 30 MPH winds….
From there it should have been an easy 4 mile stroll down a road and then across flat desert to the highway.
It was not.
The trail turned right into the wind, and each gust was actually strong enough to push us back a little.
It was so hard. But the struggle filled my heart so much I thought it would burst. Little tear drops sailed away in the wind.
There were bottles of water at the underpass and a poster to sign.
It was a short walk over to Tamarack Road where we met some other thru-hikers who were waiting for a Lyft. So we sat down and tried to get a Lyft too. No luck. Uber? Not so much. After the other hikers left we figured we just had to wait until a driver for one of the two services was passing by to accept the ride…
And then suddenly, out of nowhere, a car pulls over, and a jocular man yells out:
Without even asking, he offered us a ride to Banning! Trail angel, indeed.
He even took us (briefly) sightseeing, pulling off at an intermediate exit on the 10 to show us a statue he loves.
And ten minutes later he dropped us at our hotel, refusing money for gas. Wow!
We showered, laundried, resupplied at a nearby Mexican market, then headed to a diner for dinner.
It was closed!!! ¡Ay yai yai!
But guess what wasn’t:
We got tacos and Alesmith hazy IPAs and took them back to the hotel. Mission Accomplished!
Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back
There’s almost nothing
That reveals Nature’s full force
Like a gust of wind