183.3 – 201.1
my body’s beginning to adjust to it’s new schedule. i only wake a couple of times before it’s time & then i wander across the slab & stare down the mountain at a grid of city lights that must have materialized in the night.
before i’ve gone far, something dashes across my line of sight. i stand very still & peer into the darkness at the edge of the trail & make eye contact with a doe. she flicks her ears & watches me until i turn & keep walking.
within a mile i am grateful once again for my microspikes. i take them on & off a couple of times, eventually just clipping them to my hip belt for easier access. at north fork jacinto river i edge down an uncomfortably steep ridge towards the water’s edge. it’s the biggest water crossing i’ve had yet & i hang back for a moment to strategize. there are plenty of big rocks to clamber across so i’m not too worried. on the first step my foot slips into the cold water & i cling with both hands to the rock, heart in my throat. i struggle into my down jacket with numb & shaking fingers. the water that i filter from this river tastes how the pine trees smell.
fuller ridge is the stretch of san jacinto that everyone seems to have heard something terrifying but nobody seems to know where exactly it is or what’s so bad about it. envisioning endless ice cliffs, i have my ice axe ready but truthfully, i barely notice when it begins. progress is painstakingly slow &, with numb feet, i try to make myself focus on the compressed footpath as i inch along, prodding sketchy stretches with my trekking poles. i’ll take a lunch break at mile 190.5, i think, but no matter how long i walk it doesn’t seem to come any closer. finally i round a bend & everything is sunny & goliath says “that’s the last of the snow.” it’s taken me nearly seven hours to walk as many miles & i collapse into the patch of sun & spread out everything to dry.
i look at my maps for a while & make up my mind. the next good campsite is listed as a ten mile descent away. i lead the way with hamlet & swedish fish on my heels. “you make it look effortless,” pants hamlet when we take a little break overlooking the upcoming valley. i laugh, it feels anything but. in fact, i’m beginning to crash, “i’m sleepwalking,” i admit. i’ve hiked for 12 hours today, longer than i ever have before. i fret about the upcoming camp spot. everyone that i’ve seen all afternoon has been planning on going there- what if there is no space & we have to hike farther? we round a corner & there are tents everywhere & plenty of space for more. great gusts of wind tear through the little valley & i have to reinforce my stakes another time before bed. please hold, i think, & then i am asleep.