Date: May 1, 2017
Miles: From Hauser Creek to Fred Canyon, 16.4 miles
Health: Feeling good. No blisters but legs are swelling in the heat.
I woke up at 3:45am, a good half an hour before my alarm. Packed up my pack trying not to wake up or disturb the others still sleeping around me. After a bit of fumbling in the dark with my gear, I found the trail head and started the climb out of Hauser Canyon.
Ate my breakfast, two Pop Tarts, while walking, same as washing my teeth. I got about half way up when I saw a single headlight starting out from the camp, slowly wiggling up the hill after me.
We spend the previous night talking about all the mountain lion sightings in the area so every time I heard some rustling in the brushes, I jumped. It's funny how these things get in to your head.
My goal was to make it to Blü's and Neal's camp two miles up, at mile 17.6, before they wake up. Once I got there, there was a tent but neither of the packs outside looked familiar, and Blü was cowboy camping, so it wasn't them. I must have either missed them in the dark, or they were ahead of me on the trail.
I hiked easily in the coolness of the morning, listening to podcasts, and quickly made the 5 mile hike to Lake Morena. The shop/restaurant opens at 7am, I was there at 7:02am.
Neal was there already and Blü showed up in few minutes. They had hiked longer in to the night and slept 0.5 miles outside of town. We ate breakfast, bacon and eggs, and charged our electronics. As the morning went on, other hikers started to appear as well.
Me and Blü wanted to get going before it gets too hot to hike and headed out. Neal stayed behind, charging his phone, promising to catch up to us. Our plan was to get 8.5 miles done before the afternoon and to make it to Kitchen Creek Falls for the siesta and to cool off for the hottest part of the day.
I was feeling good heading out. Blü played some ukulele while we hiked through the town and on to the trailhead. The heat was already setting in so it was time for the umbrellas to come out. After about a mile I started feeling bad and I knew I could keep up with Blü's pace and told him to hike out as I started to listen to some podcast to get the hiking motivation back.
The motivation never came back. It felt like I was getting nowhere slow. After a while Neal catched up to me and just blazed by. The miles felt so long, hiking alone with no shade and feeling like my feet were failing me. I climbed for what must have been over two hours.
By the time I got to the mile 28.5 where the Kitchen Creek Falls should have been, there were no Falls, and no sight of Blü or Neal. I had no other option than to hike on.
The trail just kept climbing up and up and up and I was running out of water. And I felt the heat exhaustion starting to set in – I had to stop. I found a spot with little shade, about the size of my backpack, and huddled there eating salts and drinking dehydration drinks. I was not feeling this section.
After I felt better, I got up, started walking and turned a corner on the trail. Low and behold, there was the creek and down below by the creek were Blü, Neal and bunch of other people sitting by the flowing river. We had apparently all missed the little sidetrail to the Falls and ended up a few miles up the river.
As soon as I got down to the water, I jumped in. This was heaven! We sat in the flowing water with our clothes on, covering from the sun with our umbrellas. I cracked open the Heineken I had hauled from Lake Morena and just enjoyed the moment. While the beer was piss warm it was still worth the haul.
We enjoyed the water until the sun disappeared behind the mountains and then started to hike again. The views were simply breathtaking. We stopped every few minutes to take photos and just marveled at the beauty of the desert.
Because I had 5 miles more under me already, I stayed at Fred Canyon while Blü and Neal continued on. I'll catch up to them in the morning as I want to hike the 10 miles to Mount Laguna while it's still dark and cold.
Alarm is set to 4am.
Tomorrow's plan is to spend the siesta in Mount Laguna and then do 6-7 miles in the evening, setting us up for making it to Julian at mile 77 in the day after tomorrow. I'm planning on taking a zero in Julian.