Wednesday, May 9, 2012

9 May - Day 19- Of stings & angels

A desert dry camp on lower Mt San Jacinto (Mile 202) to Snow Creek Rd faucet (205.6) to Ziggy & the Bear trail angels (210.6) to Whitewater Creek trail junction (218.6)
Total PCT miles hiked today: 16

Hi, Chris here.

Well, this day started out a bit violently. We pushed out of camp early for the final portion of the descent from Jacinto ... [see how pretty it was?]

Charles and Chris heading down the last descent of Mt. San Jacinto. Seano is our photographer here.

That's the broiling desert down below. We used up all our water, so we're coming down thirsty.
... and about a mile down from our camp encountered a bee hive in the rock wall. Sean had Charles and me posing for a picture when suddenly and without provocation we were swarmed by the most aggressive honey bees I've ever seen. (I wish we had video because I'm sure it would be hilarious to see). I was standing on a rock as the bees swarmed. I got stung twice and in my attempt to swat the bees away I slipped off the rock and smashed my face on the rocky trail. All said, I was stung four or five times and Charles got stung twice. So we hiked the rest of the way down the ridge with that peculiar, throbbing, histamine intensity of bee stings - Charles and I were inspecting every rock and bush for more bees as we fantasized about gasoline and matches.

Anyhow, the excitement of the morning fresh in our minds we washed away the blood and grit and cameled up (drank a lot of water) at the Snow Creek faucet.

Chris at the Snow Creek faucet, with the north face of Mt. San Jacinto and Fuller Ridge behind us. We really came down that!
[Charles doing the caption:] Chris's mildly beaten-up face after the bee encounter. That's the wilderness we were hiking through behind us. Is Chris looking a bit gaunt in this pic? He's eating well, trust me.
[Charles doing the caption:] The second of a half-dozen wounds Christo got as collateral damage from the Great Bee Attack. :-)

This is the road walk before we got to the sandy part. It was already getting pretty hot. Chris is on the phone chatting with his parents at the back behind Seano.
Then we set out for a real desert slog. (-- you know, those sandy desert miles should count double!) Sand is hard to walk on because it just gives way beneath you. Plus, the sun was bearing down oppressively - the temp was over 100 F.

Then. Everything changed. We reached the underpass at I-10 and encountered our first trail magic of the day. Cold Beer! In coolers, in the shade of the underpass (I can really get used to being "hiker trash" with this kind of reward system). There is truly nothing better than a cold beer to bat away exhaustion, thirst, and the heat of midday.
Charles and Chris at the underpass.
 Next, more trail magic. We stopped another couple miles up the path at "Ziggy and the Bear" trail house. They are trail angels with a big tent set up as shelter out back. The first order of business when you get there: mandatory foot bath (AAAGHHHHHH! YEEEESSSS!). Plus they have a well-stocked hiker box, free fruit, cold sodas, and they even went to town for us to get Ibuprophen (praise the gods for Vitamin I) and Burger King (2 x Double Whopper with cheese, 3 x LG fries - if this isn't hiker hunger I don't know what that's going to look like). We stayed, "showered," "did laundry," took siesta from the midday sun under the awnings, and chatted with fellow hikers for a number of hours here.

Ziggy and the Bear's house is here.
Thru hikers hiding out from the 106° mid-day heat. Charles & Chris are on the computers at the end of the room.

Orientation, information, and house-keeping helpful hints from Ziggy and the Bear.
Finally we made a last push in the evening after the main heat was over (still 90s, but the sun angled and losing strength) past the vast spinning and many-voiced wind turbines on the Mesa, up and over a couple very arctic/Norse/Scottish heather looking mesas (covered in bleak dry scrub), then down to a wide flood plain with a few small creeks trickling through. And at last, in the dark, set up camp in the Whitewater Creek preserve (a too green oasis in an otherwise arid basin -- no one was complaining).

Fell into sleep to the sound of burbling water, wind rustling through the sycamore and cedar, and the stars announcing themselves in the sky - the low dull throb of recent bee stings still making themselves known.

1 comment:

  1. Those bees hath no fury! Yesterday I read Heart's account which was very similar; however, luckily she did not sustain any injuries and just one sting. She did write a pretty surreal story. I'm glad you guys took a couple days after this to heal mentally and physically.

    BTW, my moniker, The Beekeeper, doesn't have anything to do with "real" bees :)