It was freezing this morning, we were in the clouds so it stayed dark longer and it took ages to pack up because it was SO COLD.
I had my gloves on because it was cold but everything was wet. Being cold is ok. Being wet is ok. Being cold and wet is not ok!
But within half an hour we had stripped off to shorts and when the sun was out and going up hill was hot. But the wind was cold. Hotcold. The good view I had this morning made things a little easier though!..
It kept getting colder, the wind was icy, I was walking with Cool Breeze (or maybe that should be cold wind?) and I’m sure he can go much much faster than me but he kept waiting for me, which was nice. We were walking with growler as well. (Roxanne fell back as she had a sore foot, we waited for her at a camp ground but it was SO COLD that we had to keep on moving). We crossed the highway about 4 times this morning.
I came across Cool Breeze and Growler chatting to a couple, and after about 10 minutes Growler said oh by the way we have done 400 miles! Mini celebration time!
After 9 miles or so we heard that there was snow due above 5000ft and we shouldn’t be on the mountain tonight. So we made a group decision to push a 26 mile day and make it up, over and down the mountain to the fire station with the hope of being able to stay there.
It was tough, but we did a 5 mile uphill in 1.5 hours. We were flying! At one point Cool Breeze was waiting for me and he offered to carry my pack to the top – no way Jose. I am carrying this thing all the way to Canada. Nice offer though.
We were walking through the clouds and we had a bit of rain, snow and hail at the top of the mountain, and the wind was so icy. All we had to do now was get down the mountain.
On the way down it got worse. Intermittent rain and snow, icy blasts of wind, poodle bloody death bush everywhere, and if that wasn’t enough the trail was eroding so I almost fell off a few times. I had to use my trekking poles to brace myself against the wind.
The trudge down was looooong. Cool Breeze kept waiting for me which was nice but also made me feel bad – I’m sure he could have got down the mountain twice as fast as he did. By the last 2 miles my legs were completely numb, and yet painful at the same time. I was stumbling forwards desperate to reach the fire station. We all had dreams and visions of the friendly fire fighters sitting around playing cards and eating doughnuts and they would invite us in to sleep there for the night. And it would be warm and cosy. And they would give us hot drinks and cookies.
After 26 miles we got to the fire station – it was deserted. Apparently when there is snow forecast the forest fire department all go home.
Cool Breeze, Growler and I sat on a bench outside and shivered for ages just wondering what to do (I am so glad I’m not on my own right now!). Then it hailed. A lot. Our tents were all wet from the night before and none of us wanted to pitch them. A southbounder came by and he said the weather was just as bad further on. Our options were limited. We could sleep in a rodent infested shipping container filled with salt bags or we could sleep in the drop toilets, which were gross.
As I was sat on that bench I had a bit of a moment. I’m sat in the middle of nowhere on a bench outside a closed fire station, with 2 people I barely know and it’s hailing in the Southern Californian desert. One of the more random moments of my life.
The four of us decided to try and hitch to Palmdale instead of freeze to death in our tents, and if no one picked us up we would stay in the toilet. I wish I had taken more photos here but they weren’t a top priority at the time!
Growler and Chronicler (the southbounder) got a hitch first within 5 minutes and then Cool Breeze and I got a hitch like three cars later. He asked if it was the four of us and the Swiss army had just arrived behind us, they were going to stay on the mountain but made a last minute decision to come with us. The man took us all in his truck, he was really nice and was concerned about us and us being cold so he turned the heat right up. He took us out of his way to the first motel we saw, the Ref Roof Inn. When we got there the guy at the front desk said the others had already got a room! It’s great how things work out sometimes!
We went to in’n’out burger, I had nothing left in me, but as it was raining so I ran to get the burger. It was good.
It was great to have a bed and a hot shower, but I was worried about everyone who might be still stuck on the mountain. I hope they are all ok.
We ended up walking about 27 miles today. I laid in the bed and didn’t move a muscle for the next 8 hours, happy that our little herd all stayed together.