Sunday, May 3, 2015

Day 10 : PCT Mile 211 - Ziggy and the Bear

Sunday May 3, 2015
32 Miles Today
221 Total Miles

Wow! Wow again! I got to Ziggy and the Bears ten minutes before lights out. Just enough time to take a cool shower. I was shivering and shaking when I finished but I feel clean. There are lots of hikers here but I don't recognize any of them. This was my record setting day, thirty two miles. The last three hiked in the dark. 

I started the day a little south of Saddle Junction up in the high country of Mt San Jacinto Wilderness. Rather than taking the alternate route to the top of the mountain I chose instead to stay on the PCT and traverse around the west side of the peak. The sun was racing around the mountain with me. The air cold and clear, I am looking forward to being back in the warmth of the desert. 

The map warned that the water I was crossing could be the last water for 20.4 miles. It was just a trickle, so I stopped and for only the second time this trip I used my water filter instead of my Aqua Mira drops. Water collected, I continued on around the corner and came to a medium sized stream of clear flowing water. Oh well, I already have water now. 

Fuller ridge trail takes you north from San Jacinto and begins to drop you down in elevation. The trail is supposed to go down but I believe the trail goes up almost as much as it goes down. When my mind is set on going down I want to go down, not up, every step back up means I'll need to take the step back down. It really started getting to me. Finally I got to the Fuller Ridge trailhead. I cooked a complete dinner and forced myself to eat it for lunch. I knew that I was going to need the calories for the long descent to the desert. 

I had no idea how long of a descent it would be. I would descend down the trail for hours and look down and it would appear that I hadn't descended any lower. Down, down, down, and still I was somewhere between the top and the bottom closer to the top. The hours passed and the five liters of water became four, then three, then two. Still down, switchback after switch back. My trekking poles clickity clicking off the rocks. 


Down some more...

More down...

I've been told that this is a Granite Spiny Lizard. Cool markings!
Do you see the rattlesnake? Yea, I didn't either... Look closely in the shadow to the left of the rock...
Suddenly there was a loud hissing sound right by my left ankle like a tire had sprung a leak. It made me jump about three feet straight up. The sound was so unlike the sounds of the last hours I didn't know what it was and it had startled me. As my mind tried to process the sound it occurred to me that it wasn't hissing, it was rattling, as in rattlesnake! Yikes! Less than six inches from my ankle. If it had wanted to bite me it could have. I am glad that it just chose to warn me rather than bite first. The adrenaline from that encounter powered me for a while. 
200 miles from the border
Down forever...
Yay! The faucet at the bottom!
Twilight in the desert

Helpful sign
The shadows were long when I finally made it to the faucet and the bottom of the hill. Tarzan the trail angel had left some bread, avocados, and mayonnaise. I wrapped my feet in my cool wet towel and made myself an avocado sandwich. Only five more miles to Ziggy and the Bear's place. I could see the water tank by their home right across the valley. As I walked the stuff breeze was warm and comfortable. Even though I was in the shadow of the mountain I wasn't cold. The twilight transitioned into night as the full moon rose in the east. I could see a thundercloud colored by the setting sun off in the northeast. As it got darker I could no longer see the sign posts and was left following the footsteps in the sand. I finally came to the underpass beneath Interstate 10. They looked like deep black holes in the dark. 

I stopped and removed my pack. I took the sunglasses off my head and pulled out my headlamp. As I looked up a dark figure stepped out of one of the black holes and walked down the trail in front of me passing into the bushes about twenty feet in front of me. He didn't say anything, nor did I. It was creepy. I strapped my headlamp on, shouldered my pack and moved into the blackness. The beam of my headlamp slicing through the dark as I worked my way beneath the thundering roadbed of the interstate. It was otherworldly and disorienting to be doing this in the pitch black after a long day. 

After reaching the other side I searched for trail markers or posts or some sort of hint as to where to go. I pulled out my map and it was useless without my glasses, so I pulled out my glasses too. The map said the trail goes straight out from the underpass. So I crossed the frontage road and stepped into the bushes, sure enough, the trail was here. It's probably obvious during the day but completely invisible in the dark. I turned off my headlamp and followed the trail by moonlight. My thought being that I am scarier to anything or person out here with my light off rather than with my light on. After another mile or so in the windy darkness I arrived at Ziggy and the Bear's place. Awesome awesome! Thirty two of the most challenging miles I have ever hiked.

Thousands of vertical feet descended today!


  1. My friend and I started section hiking the PCT in October 2014. During our last hike a few weeks ago we reached Interstate 10. I decided to hike the PCT proper and take the summit of San Jacinto from the western approach. That day nearly killed me as it was 7,000 ft up and 24 miles. W

  2. A friend and I started section hiking the PCT in October 2014. We last left the trail at interstate 10 a few weeks ago. I decided to hike the PCT proper and summit San Jac from the western approach - my friend skipped the summit. It made for a long day that kicked my butt. It was the toughest hiking day since the JMT last summer when I crossed paths with you just south of Donahue Pass. Keep it up!!!

  3. Great, great post. And congrats on the 32, that's huge!