The trail closure at Interstate 10 meant a challenging journey to get back on trail. There was no simple reroute and re-gaining the trail meant a forty minutes ride into San Bernadino, a long wait at the transit centre and an hour on the mountain bus out to Big Bear Lake (BBL). The mountain roads were windy and treacherous enough but thick fog descended on us and we were held up briefly as a roll over crash occurred just minutes ahead of us. BBL provided us with a couple of nights good recouperation at the Travelodge and we took the opportunity to leave heavy packs there and hike the 14 miles from the closure end at Onyx Summit out to the highway without a load on our backs.
After regaining the PCT via the Cougar Trail from town, the next couple of days were dominated by the presence of Deep Creek Gorge which we followed for over thirty miles. We walked through a huge area that was still recovering from the 1999 & 2008 forest wildfires and it was good to see substantive new growth taking hold again after such a destruction. Deep Creek presented a logistical challenge as strictly speaking no camping was allowed within a mile of the creek. As there really was little alternative we walked until after dark and ‘stealth-camped’ in a secluded spot practicing leave no trace principles.
The creek provided plentiful water for the section and with it plenty of wildlife. The lizards are fast movers and hard to capture pictures off but snakes seemed less concerned by our presence. I guess that reflects their relative status in the food chain, nothing motivates movement quite as much as survival!
We’ve not yet identified this one so anyone out there who can identify it please do let us know. So far we know we’ve seen rattlesnakes, garter snakes and gopher snakes, but only one of this colour and patterning. We’ve hunted hard for scorpions in the desert without success yet, but think we’ve seen a Camel Spider (http://www.livescience.com/40025-camel-spiders-facts.html) who tried to join us in bed back at Mike’s place.
Leaving Deep Creek behind, we passed the Mojave River Forks Dam, which is a large US Army Corps of Engineers flood control dam, below which we crossed a plain of incredibly fine grey dust (marked as quicksand on our maps) and crossed the river to climb once again into the mountains. On several occasions we’ve crossed railway tracks that are travelled by enormous goods engines. Being a wider gauge rail than our UK tracks these trains are much larger and often three or four engines will pull seventy to one hundred cars, sometimes loaded two high with shipping containers.
After an overnight stop and restock in Cajon Pass, we climbed further over two days to over 8000ft on the ridges of Wright Mountain before descending into Wrightwood itself, another mountain town well equipped for hiker resupply. A high altitude camp and early start gave us the opportunity to capture a cloud inversion over the LA valley an the early morning sun was melting the ice trapped in the tall pine trees leading to sparkling showers of fairy dust twinkling down around us as we hiked through the silent morning.
We’ve got to know hikers from South Africa, The Netherlands, Canada, France and Australia as well as from the US and Alaska, and these resupply towns have been a great opportunity to re-connect with some of them and share some time out as we each make our way north at our own pace.