May 5, 2014
Mt laguna to 12 miles from mt laguna (mile 55)
Waking up is tough, just like during the rest of my life. But I’m feeling surprisingly good. I spend 20 minutes babying my feet, lancing blisters and the such, and soon it’s time to get going. I think these gel insoles might be a game changer.
Like a bunch of amateurs, we left our food bag sitting on the table overnight. Now I have huge holes in my food bag and we’ve lost half the bagel chips. I spend a while trying to mend it, but J is super antsy so we head out. We stop by the Mt Laguna outdoor supply store one more time on our way out. Dave says there’s a wind advisory out, winds of up to 85 mph(!) possible tonight, and warns us against camping on several of the campsites marked on the Halfmile maps.
The trail quickly takes us back out of the pine forest and into manzanita. It’s breezy enough to stash my sunbrella. I’m feeling so strong and good. We cruise right into a big burn zone. The bones of the burnt manzanita stick out of the ground like blackened tentacles, like the graveyard of some sea-monster. Between the burnt manzanita though, are flowers. Everywhere. We’re walking through lupins, and indian paintbrush, and wild geraniums and peas, and fireweed, and a million more whose names I should know, but don’t. Flower fields forever. Behind them the view drops off around 6000 feet to the floor of the Mojave. I’ll be there tomorrow. It looks utterly desolate from up here.
By noon the wind is picking up. The bloom of the morning is all worn off for me and I’m experimenting with special mincing steps and limps to see if one suits me. The wind is exhilarating and tough – blowing me and J around the trail. The flowers whip wildly about us. The shadows deepening with the afternoon outline all the mountains we still have to climb. Not today though. The wind is getting really rough and we’re looking for a place to camp.
We pass by Tarzan and another thru-hiker setting up on the old, abandoned stretch of sunrise highway. It’s sheltered, hardly any wind. “You might want to think about setting up here,” they warn. But I’m not ready to quit yet. We’re only 10 miles from Mt Laguna. I’m too tired to bother limping and we start making good time.
“Let’s check out down here,” says J, as we cross a little wash. We’re back in unburnt and inpenetrable manzanita thickets and it’s too dense to camp in. The wash has a little bend in it that shelters some of the wind. “Is it supposed to rain to tonight?” I ask.
“Uh, I don’t think so…” says J. Not reassured, we scout out some higher ground to escape to, then go back to the wash to start working on setting up the tarp. We’ve never had to set up in wind before, and this thing is NOT freestanding. It takes us a while but we get it up. We have it so low pitched you have to army crawl inside. I dig a channel around our tarp in case it rains. It’ll give us a few extra minutes to bail, hopefully. I’m nervous about the night, but there’s nothing to do now but wait it out.