Miles 205-218.5 + .5
Total Mileage 13.5 + .5
The night was cool and beautiful despite high wind reports and windmills looming in the shadow of San Jacinto- and as we’ve learned, where there are windmills there is wind!
The first five miles of the day came easily as we made it to the I-10 underpass in a Mad Max style setting. No water, just blowing sand and scorching sun. A few signposts for direction, but for the first time no designated trail for us to follow. We sat under the freeway for a while, just Josh and I, watching trains go by on the tracks above our heads and poking through the empty leftover trail magic coolers that had once held cold beer, soda, and fruit.
We trudged on, running into other hikers with wild stories of trail angels and town from the night before. It made the time pass quickly, but we were both glad we had chosen to camp at the water spigot instead of joining.
Finally, we started smelling soap- day hikers must be near! We had made plans with some fellow hikers to meet at Whitewater Preserve, a popular picnic spot among locals half a mile off trail. When we smelled soap and started running into families celebrating Mother’s Day with a hike we knew we must be near.
As we strolled into the Preserve we knew we weren’t leaving for the rest of the day. Running water and soap in the bathrooms meant we could properly wash our socks, and the luxury of flush toilets with toilet paper was even more exciting! Our friends lounged about on picnic tables or sprawled out in the soft grass while a gentle breeze blew.
To top it off, Legend awaited us. He is a trail angel that truly lives up to his name- he has an RV and follows the hiker bubble up the trail providing good vibes and magic. When we showed he had just wrapped up making afternoon pancakes for everyone, but promised to return with spaghetti dinner for everyone and pancakes again the next morning!
We spent the afternoon wallowing in the wading pool (!!!) during the heat of the day and rinsing and soaking our blistered, exhausted feet. Around 430pm, a park ranger showed up and invited us to camp overnight even though the park would be closed.
Legend returned accompanied by Jo-Ellen, who had cooked the most amazing dinner for all of us! Spaghetti with Parmesan, couscous salad, mixed greens and strawberries, bread and butter, and some truly awesome crispy chicken. It was the most thoughtful and delicious dinner, and as we all ate we marveled over why someone would be so gracious to a bunch of dumb hikers like us.
After dinner we slowly pitched our tent, choosing a spot near the bushes for a wind break as it was shaping up to be a windy evening. Later we heard reports of other hiker’s tents collapsing or stakes getting pulled out in the wind during the night but we slept like babies, well fed and relaxed.