Thursday, October 14, 2004
This section is 19.6 miles and nearly all downhill. As a matter of fact it goes from 7750 to 1360 feet above sea level. We passed the lowest point between this section and the Columbia Gorge on the Oregon Washington border. We camped the night before at the campsite after a 2 ½ hour ride with Ray’s son Jim up to the top. We are asking a lot of our relatives with this shuttling but it is working out. It was a warm and beautiful night. The sky was packed with stars. I slept badly. Don’t know why. The moon came up and I thought Ray had turned on his headlamp. We got off about 7:15 for our march to the bottom. The first thousand feet is covered with trees. We had fabulous views of the desert, mountains to the north, east and west. San Gorgonio looms bare and forbidding ahead. The next section is listed as difficult. We will take it slow and easy. There was a fire here in July and the vast majority of the hike down is scorched desert scrub. We have spent so much time walking in burn areas I think our little group should be called the “Fire Walkers.” The fire turned the mountain into a dirt slide. Most of the trail is covered with soft soil that has slipped over it and, in places, made it appear just like the rest of the slope. We saw lots of prints from deer. They seem to think staying on the trail is a good idea too. We believe we saw the paw prints of a mountain lion. Bill said that the way to tell the difference between those of a dog is that the nails don’t show and they didn’t. This section is a very long series of switchbacks through boulder strewn hills and canyons. Most people have bitched about the length of the trip. We decided in advance that “it is just the way it is” so we didn’t worry about it. It helps to have an attitude check to keep your spirits up. We passed though another giant boulder area. Some of them are 30 feet tall. We went under some giant rocks that looked like they were about to fall anytime. This was the perfect time for Ray to reminisce about a bridge project where several people were flattened under a boulder so large they didn’t bother to dig them out. They just put a memorial on top, lovely. Snow Creek Village is a small group of varied structures on the desert floor below and we finally saw it about 2:00PM. The end of the trail is in view most of the day. I suppose that is why people get tired of this section. We have hiked this distance before and have never seen the end until the last few minutes. The end of Snow Creek has a water district that serves Palm Springs. The miracle is that they have put a water fountain, with cold water; at the point the trail hits the desert floor. It was wonderful. We drank, filled out bottles, and poured it on our heads. The weather was nice on the way down but now it was hot. We had to walk across the desert floor and it was 95 degrees. It didn’t take long to drag us down. Of course we have already walked 16 plus miles. I have a tendency to keep on slogging regardless of how I feel. I should listen to my body. I noticed Bill flagging so we took a couple of breaks. The strange part about this area is a series of 4 X 4 posts marking the trail to keep the shifting sand from obscuring it. Closing in on the freeway I had spoken to my daughter Janessa and she was waiting on the other side. A fire broke out near the Exit and I called her and said “are you all right?” She said, “I’m fine, I see the fire. Should I go and look at it?” I said no and she said “you’re no fun.” It turned out a mobile home had gone up in flames but it gave us a start. We passed under the railroad and freeway and we were happy to finish, a great trip.