Water Faucet to Mission Creek Camp
Mile 205.7 – Mile 229
“The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.” So begins what most consider Stephen King’s magnum opus ‘The Dark Tower’. There are eight books in the series and the first, ‘The Gunslinger’ opens with that terrific first sentence. Today felt ripped straight from those pages where King paints a stark, desolate world that has ‘moved on’ from our own with a hard bitten hero on an epic quest.
My day’s story opened early after a hot, restless night, the residual heat of the day lingering in the sand and gravel under my tent. My plan was to get a move on as early as I could and cross the valley floor while the sun was still low.
After 4 miles or so I finally reached Interstate 10 and passed beneath in a secret world known only to hikers. There was an impressive array of note boards, signs, cached water, and Bud Lite! Alas 7am was a bit early for me so I passed but others got right to it.
I knew it was going to be a hot day when at about 8am I squeezed a Snickers bar into my mouth like a tube of chunky toothpaste. The trail rose back into the scrub hills and there was surprise number two. Mr. Norman Lee, a Korean War Vet and known as ‘Stormin Norman’ to his iron worker friends, had driven up into the hills to meet PCT hikers. His rear door was flung open with snacks and water. After a brief chat, a bottle of water, and a picture with his new selfie stick, it was ‘thank you kindly’ and I continued.
I officially started California Section C today the first part of which climbs up through a wind farm. Mesa Wind Energy ( a subsidiary of North Central Positronics for you Dark Tower fans) had a control station offering ‘Shade and Water’. At that point I was going to easily make my second 10×10 but the siren song proved irresistible. I ambled into their work yard just as the worker was closing up. He let me in anyway and there three more great things happened: air conditioning, flush toilet, and two bottles of cold water. Oh man, I was in heaven if only for 10 minutes.
The San Gorgonio Wilderness rises directly north of San Jacinto. It’s a place of steep walled canyons and though quite warm today as I traveled through, it also houses the most water I have seen yet. The PCT visits and revisits Mission Creek many times over the course of the next 20 miles or so. You would think a well flowing creek this time of year would be cold but not. It was cooler than the hot water in my water bottles but hardly refreshing just wet.
The sometimes arduous walking today was made tolerable by another secret weapon I carry. An iPod loaded with all the Dark Tower books was just the thing to make those last 3 miles after dinner. Escapism redoubled!