Mission Creek to San Bernadino Camp
Mile 229 – Mile 253.1
Last night was warm enough to sleep uncovered under spectacular star light until well after midnight. I was close enough to the trail to see several headlamps come cruising by late. That’s one good strategy to beat the heat.
My plan again was to rise early and make some miles before the sun took hold. The first 10 miles tracked up the wash of Mission Creek crisscrossing the stream many times. My goal was the headwaters of the creek but it would take all morning to reach. The steep walls on either side blocked the rising sun until about 7 after which we played hide and seek until 8 or so after which I was decidedly found.
I entered the San Bernadine National Forest and the good news about climbing higher was that the air was cooler. In the morning I passed quite a few folks I hadn’t seen as yet. One older guy was sitting under a tree waiting for someone to help him shoulder his pack. I don’t know how long he was waiting but I do know he had somehow managed to get himself way the heck out in the wilderness. I doubt I will see him again but I have free legal advice from the California lawyer should the need ever arise.
Up and up some more, I was back above 8000 feet and had tracked down the wellspring of Mission Creek. The water was cold and delicious so I loaded up for the afternoon. It’s hard to imagine all the water I had been walking past for the last 20 miles came from this humble mountain spring.
On the summits and high ridges when cellular coverage appears possible , I will switch on my phone. Today I was rewarded with a strong signal I think because I had line of sight to a ski area. In any case I used the opportunity to post and call Katrina. Deprivation makes a keen whetstone to sharpen ones gratitude. After a deep pull from my cherished heart spring, the steep grade and punishing sun fell away. I was home for a brief but delectable moment and back in high spirits I attacked the ups and coasted the downs.
At Mile 250 I saw a grizzly bear! One great oddity on the PCT is the private zoo the trail skirts where I’m told exotic animals are housed and trained for roles in the entertainment industry. The impressive bear was pacing in his pen and I didn’t take a picture because who wants to see that?
After dinner the race was on again to see if I could again find coverage to call into family birthday dinner. I made record time up to Onyx Summit but was sorely disappointed. But just as the sun was setting I rounded a corner and there was Big Bear off in the distance and two bars on my phone. It’s hard being out here alone and not able to be with family. I don’t think I’d make it without being able to touch home occasionally. I suppose I would have made a terrible pioneer or even PCT hiker before mobile phones.
Just as the sun’s dazzling last act of the day was waning, I was ready to camp and there, right on the trail was a couch and large container with food and drinks. Cookies? Soda? Gatorade? It struck me as a perfect place to stop and so I did, sustained and satisfied.