April 10, 2018
We left the Whitewater Reserve and hiked 14.5 miles along Mission Creek and up the next rise. It was a lovely, low-key day with several more breaks than we normally take. It was just so nice to be hiking next to a cool, clear river all day in the desert that we couldn’t help but stop and enjoy it.
We found one spot along the trail that crossed the river where a nearby pool had formed, deep and clear and sandy on the bottom. Ghosthiker and I barely hesitated before shedding our packs, shoes, and socks, and jumping in. It was deliciously cold and refreshing and we were still fairly clean from our hotel stay, and it was the last point where the river met the trail before flowing away, so we felt confident we wouldn’t be tainting the water for anyone filling their bottles.
Even with all our frequent stops, we were making good time, so we decided to stop for an early dinner and then hike another 7 miles through a burn area to camp on the other side, putting us just two days out from Big Bear Lake. Unfortunately, we didn’t take into account the elevation gain going through the burn area and we ended up hiking the last several miles in total darkness, which was only accentuated by the darkness of the burned area itself.
We found we couldn’t go as far as we’d planned due to sheer exhaustion, but we did do 20.4 miles. There was a point at which we had to navigate around/through a fallen tree with lots of thick, twisting branches. I felt like Katherine Zita Jones in Entrapment trying to maneuver around it like an acrobat with my pack on.
We ended up camping in the burn area, which was kind of sketchy and it was hard to get my stakes to stay in the ground. I wondered why there wasn’t a warning sign or why it wasn’t closed off entirely. Maybe because it was such a short section of trail. I had to pitch my tent on a slight slope and I was rolling off my sleeping pad half the night. It was also very cold and I was too exhausted (lazy) to put on more layers or dig into my pack for my emergency blanket, so I spent most of the night shivering and didn’t get much sleep.