Day 11: Slippery Slopes to Water
Saturday, March 31, 2018 8:59 pm
Location: Tule Spring (137.0 miles)

The morning started off with some good news: I found my headlamp. Turns out it was lying on my pack outside my tent. It must have fallen out of the pocket I keep it in when I put the pack there, and I just couldn’t see it because it was too dark.

I got off to a bit of a slow start today, leaving camp around 8 am, happy to see some light cloud cover that would hopefully keep the sun somewhat at bay today. The early morning trail was relatively shaded from the sun, and was a nice green landscape.

The morning did have one odd milestone: for the first time on the PCT, I had to step over a fallen tree.

An hour later, I arrived at Mike’s Place. Mike is a trail angel who lives adjacent to the PCT and, for the last four years, has been providing a water tank for hikers to get water at. It’s a much-needed oasis in the desert. Mike also graciously allows hikers to hang out in his back yard and porch, and when I got there, it was the tail end of breakfast: there were a few pancakes left.

I wound up spending almost an hour and a half there relaxing, chatting with the other hikers there (including Mountain Goat’s group) and most importantly: getting water, since by the time I got to Mike’s, I was nearly completely out. I drank at least a liter there, and filtered another four for the day’s hike.

Being a popular place to stop along the trail, there’s a high demand for toilet facilities at Mike’s Place. To help keep up with hiker demand, several people were helping to build a giant pit toilet. A huge trench has been dug, and a seating platform installed on a set of rails. When completed, the seating platform can be moved down the rails so as part of the pit is filled up, the seats can be moved to change where the load is deposited. It’ll be pretty awesome when it’s completed, hopefully in a few days. (They just need to finish digging the hole.) Also built recently was a short connector trail from the PCT, which saves a substantial bit of roadwalk.

Mike’s place was a nice place to relax, and it was a little hard to not get sucked in to staying way too long. The next few miles of the day were a (not terribly steep) uphill, which I continued to struggle with due to being laden down with nine pounds of water and several extra meals. The late morning provided another view of the snow-capped San Gorgonio, as the trail brings me ever closer. By 12:30, I’d made it seven miles to the end of the first downhill of the day, and stopped at a slightly shaded campsite to rest. I took a two hour long lunch break, cooking last night’s dinner, and thus relieving myself of a non-trivial amount of food and water weight. I also got in a short 15 minute nap.

View of San Gorgonio and San Jacinto
View of San Gorgonio and San JacintoThe snow-capped peak of Mt. San Gorgonio peeks out from behind Thomas Mountain (front, center) and San Jacinto (middle, right of center).

The next water source was another five miles down the trail, at Tule Spring. It has a cistern (which recently has been empty), and a muddy and shallow (but fast moving) creek, so while this wouldn’t be the best water source, it’s the best game in town until getting to Paradise Valley Cafe, 15 miles beyond that.

While I was resting, Peter Pan and Bigfoot, an older couple from Alaska passed me, as did Hulkspiration and his wife, Sierra, as I was packing up to leave. I caught up with them at the campsite at the road that leads to Tule Spring.

My initial plan was to collect water and then move on, going as far as I could, but I was feeling a bit dehydrated, in spite of drinking way more water than yesterday. And plus, there were people here. So I decided to stay.

As I mentioned, the cistern at the spring was dry, so I had to collect water from the stream. It was about 20 feet down a very steep, unstable embankment, with an ant nest at the dry area immediately before the creek. I collected water (much easier thanks to a collection bottle I borrowed from Hulkspiration), and filtered enough to cook dinner. Also at the campsite are Kayleigh and James, Lucas, Ramen Shaman, and Natalia.

I was feeling a bit sniffly during the otherwise enjoyable downhill hike today, which I attributed to becoming slightly dehydrated. During dinner, though, I felt myself starting to come down with a cold. So, this is going to make the next couple of days interesting, especially since there are no Rhododendron leaves I can use as tissues once snot production kicks into gear, like I could with my cold on the AT.

Sunset at the Tule Spring Campsite
Sunset at the Tule Spring Campsite

Tomorrow: hopefully make it 15 miles to the Paradise Valley Cafe for water. Unfortunately, they’ll be closed (for Easter) by the time we get there, but at least we’ll have water.