Total mileage 16.6
We booked it out of camp at 6am to make the climb out of the canyon before the sun hit. I cried a bit, and then we got some phone service toward the top of the ridge with about a billion encouraging text messages waiting for us so I cried harder. We made the ridge right as the sun hit the top of my hat- phew!
A couple more cruiser miles into Lake Morena and we made it at about 830am. I had my eye on the coin shower (2 quarters for the first 8 minutes) and the running water in the sink. We met Mrs. Focus (wife of hiker Focus, who we camped with the night before) and she steered us around the campground, offering watermelon and quarters. While I showered, Josh charged his phone in the bathroom and we laid out sleeping bags out on the grass to dry.
After I drip dried from my no soap, no towel shower, we walked in to town to a popular “malt shop” (fancy 7-11) where we bought a refreshing, cold Gatorade and sat with the locals on the front porch. Got an earful about how to kill a rattlesnake and then salt it- with a shovel and so you can wear it on your hat, obviously- but the porch felt too good so we got out of there before we shot our mileage for the day. We also had a good long talk about gear, prep, and general hiker BS with a fellow thru hiker from Brazil, named Gue (we’re not sure how to spell it, but it’s pronounced like “ghee”).
As the day got hotter we passed many hikers resting under overpasses, near cool streams, and in the scrubby shade of manzanita. Josh and I were nearly sucked in to hanging out at a stream crossing with a few hikers we’ve met and we did get a good foot rinse in, but we kept hiking. As we approached a campground we were going to hike through and pass by, we heard someone yell, “BEER! FRUIT! TRAIL MAGIC!”
So we booked it over to a picnic table where a man had laid out a whole spread of PB&J, cold beers (Ballast Point, even), and cold fruit straight from a cooler. He said he just has fun helping out hikers- thanks Steve!
The rest of the hike revealed some gorgeous vistas of the desert floor. Scary to know we will be walking that in a week or two- it looked HOT.
Finally we made it to Fred Canyon where a stream and a couple other hikers awaited us. We made a Mountain House Chicken and Dumplings for dinner which wasn’t quite enough food. Someone had found a huge baggie of weed on the trail so Josh and I gently excused ourselves and passed out at about 730pm.