Destination: Joshua Tree Springs
We set the alarm for 4am, for another attempt at a long day. Apricots is trying to shorten the final day of the leg, but Psycho doesn't want to put more miles in the day than necessary. As a result, we have had continued aspirations of days with higher than average mileage, but the trail tends to hold us around 20 miles per day. This morning, the blowing wind had kicked enough dirt into the air to cause both of us to feel a little congested, and less than desirous of an early start.
When eventually left around 6:15, and made a quick 7.5 mile walk down to Walker Pass. The sky was overcast a little, so we were not really fearing the heat of the day for the climb following Walker Pass, so we decided to hitch to Onyx to get a little extra food, so we could have larger meals. Uncle Tom, Apricots, and Psycho went to the road and hitched the 20 miles to Onyx for a small resupply.
The gentleman who was kind enough to pick us up, turned out to be very accommodating. First he told us the first store had minimal supplies, so he took us to one a few miles further down the road. After resupply, he drove us part of the way back. When we were getting out of the car, Uncle Tom realized that he lost his wallet with ID, Debit, Credit, and cash inside it. The man drove Uncle Tom back to the store, while Apricots and Psycho hitched the rest of the way back to the trail with an 85 year old woman with a foot of lead, and grim historical knowledge of the area.
Once back to the trail, with stories of dead bodies, and suicidal women fresh in our brains, we cooked up a lunch to wait out the heat. The sun had burned the clouds, and it was shaping up to be another hot desert day, not something we would enjoy when coupled with 2000 feet of climbing.
After lunch we walked half a mile, and bumped into Train, Axilla, and General Lee, sitting out the sun under a large Joshua Tree adorned with a Tiki sculpture. We chose to join them for another hour before starting our climb. This of course meant that we would have to hike the 13 remaining miles quickly, if we wanted to arrive by sun down.
Shortly before 4pm, we started our ascent, which turned out to be both easy and stunning. We made a climb to a saddle and then wound around the side of Mt. Jenkins, named after a writer/naturalist who helped design this section of the trail. As we rounded the mountain, we were offered amazing views of Mt. Owens.
We walked over slides of Quartz Diorite rock, crunching under our feet like broken glass, as we stared with awe at the crooked tormented spine of granite outcroppings serving as a ridge to Mt. Owens. Cutting in and out of Mt. Jenkins, we were repeatedly given views of Owens, each more stunning than the last. The sun was low on the horizon, and the granite glowed a rich yellow.
As we made our final ascent, we climbed over the Jenkins/Owens saddle and dropped down towards camp. The sun lingered low on the horizon, and as we lost elevation it tucked behind the hills to our west. With fading light, we hiked fast. Three miles later, there was just barely enough light to see the trail at our feet, and the sign telling us we had arrived at the spring where we intended to camp.
We made the quarter mile steep descent down to camp, where a campfire greeted us. Axilla and Sir Richard Wizard had arrived earlier, and had rolled out the welcome mat. We chose to camp under the stars because it was late and the stars were shining very bright.
We sat around the campfire making dinner and sharing our stories of the day. Wizard saw a bear, Uncle Tom lost his wallet, and Apricots and Psycho marveled in a perfect sunset walk.
(Now we just hope the bear that was scene twenty yards from where we sleep stays away for the night.)
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