Cajon Pass – tent site
22 miles. 3941ft up. 3387ft down.
The best western at Cajon Pass has to be one of the noisiest there is. Train horns, car noise, people outside. It’s loud. But I eventually went to sleep. I set an alarm for 6:30am. The trade off, according to Catwater, for doing big miles was that we got to lie in in the morning. She was up at 6 and went for breakfast while I was still in bed! ‘But it’s really 7’ she says. ‘You can’t do that, you have to adapt straight away!’I tell her.
I join her for breakfast. I don’t eat much. Half a bagel and cream cheese and a couple of forkfuls of egg. But I do drink more than my fair share of orange juice. Man I love orange juice. And I drank some apple juice too. I love apple juice too.
We faffed around a bit and then set about walking back over the overpass. A lot less creepy in the light and not so much of the ‘I’m gonna die’ feelings. We stop at the gas station and buy a few more snacks for the road. I get an ice cream and as I’m eating it I realise it’s 8am. A perfectly acceptable time to eat ice cream!
We pass everyone’s beloved McDonald and I’m not particularly disappointed that it is closed for refurbishment. People were saying it burnt down but it doesn’t look that burnt to me. As we head back to the trail a man asks us if we are heading to Mexico and then asks if we are with that other lady. The lady from the hotel last night. I knew she was a hiker. She obviously didn’t want to talk to us though.
The trail was still burnt and the sun was hot. My face felt like it was burning. I was too hot, I already needed a wee and my legs ache before I’ve even really stared. It’s going to be a long day. After only a couple of miles we catch up with that lady. She is called Rocket. I’ve been seeing someone called Rocket Cow in the trail registers for a while. It must be her. She acted like she knew nothing about us being at the same hotel and she told us to go on ahead. Odd. Maybe she just wants to be on her own.
We carry on up through the burn and eventually the trail becomes full of life again. We leave the burn behind and the bushes and lizards and birds reappear. In the distance the freeway and the railways cut geometric lines into the side of the mountains. We can still hear the trains as they blare their horns. We stop for elevenses and then it’s pretty much downhill / flat to silverwood lake. My legs are so sore from that 20 miles of downhill yesterday. My ankles hurt and that bit of thigh just above the knee, that’s particularly sore. But there is nothing to do but carry on. I’m tired today, I’ve had enough of walking, I just want to be done, I have half a mind in New Zealand now. But I know I don’t really feel like that, it’s just because I’m uncomfortable.
After about 8 miles there is a water source marked on the water report but it’s not listed clearly and when I get to the road and check I find I have gone .6 past it. I don’t want to backtrack or add an extra 1.2 miles to my day so when Catwater arrives we go and checkout Cleghorn picnic area to find that all the water is turned off and all the toilets are locked. So we carry on to the lake and plan to get water from there.
I didn’t realise this going north when everything was new and different, but in the ‘desert’ you are never far from civilisation, I certainly don’t feel like I am truly in the wilderness anymore. We see people all the time and we hear traffic noise, train noise, people noise all the time. Silverwood lake looks pretty but up close it’s actually pretty gross. It’s a very popular recreational area and the bushes are littered with mostly subway wrappers and other bits of trash. The lake is full of speed boats and jet skis which are really noisy and annoying! The trail wiggles around the lake and it seems to go on forever. The sun gets really hot and beats down on one side of my face. I’m not feeling it at all today. We find a little path down to the lake and fill our water. I’m sure it’s not going to be the greatest water, filled with pollution from the motors but we have little other choice. I carry 1.5 litres. Catwater carries 4!
We move on past the lake and down to a really sketchy area that goes along a road where the trail is full of giant weeds. We go past a siphon plant and the giant dam. It’s water from the lake I think. It’s not listed as a water source as I think it would be too dangerous to get down to. We walk along the road for a bit and then I’m grateful for the GPS because it isn’t clear where the trail goes. We cross a work yard with huge unused water pipes in. The trail then climbs back up into the hills where the burn begins again.
I thought we were out of the burn. This area looks like it got affected pretty badly, it’s pretty incinerated. There is an amazing area which has been dug up as a containment line I guess which stopped the fire spreading. The houses at the bottom of the hills were saved.
It gets really windy and by 4:45 the sun is starting to go down. We quickly find our intended camp spot, not protected by trees anymore because they have all burnt down. It’s super windy and it’s a bit of a battle to pitch the tents but we manage it. By 5:10 it’s dark! I know the clocks went back but it dark sooner than I thought it would be. But on the plus side it was a beautiful sunset.
We are in our tents really early but I’m ok with that because my legs are throbbing. I eat my now 2 day old pizza. Not sure if that was sensible. I’ll find out in due course I guess! I manage about 1 and a half slices and a few biscuits. The wind is strong and it’s pushing hard against the side of my tent. I lie down and write, I can’t get comfortable, I can’t lie on my back because it’s too much pressure on my heels and lying on my sides makes my legs throb a lot. I will need to pop an Aleve PM tonight.
Eventually the wind dies and it’s calm and still. I can hear the trains, I can hear cars. I can hear planes. And most annoying of all is a little yappy dog that won’t shut up. I hope it knows that 9pm is hiker midnight! I’m really hungry but worried about how much food I have.
I get out of my tent for my pre-bed wee and the distant lights of the city look amazing twinkling in the darkness.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Please donate here, every little bit helps.