May 15th – I was so cold last night that I could not stop shivering. Even focusing on my breathing stopped me for only 5 minutes or so, before my teeth started chattering again. JKW and I had agreed to share a tent if either of us got in trouble with being cold, but this is the desert! I still have the Sierras to handle. This was just a little snow and cold! I was determined to handle it myself. Eventually I pulled both liner and bag up over my head, and my breathe warmed up the area around my head at least. I know I must have slept for at least 4-5 hours. Waking up at 8 I sat in my sleeping bag, unzipped my fly and door and made a hot mocha for both of us. Both sitting in our tents, we discussed the weather report and our options; we had 52 miles to Cajon Pass and more snow was forecast. We could hunker down here for the day and another night, hike 14 miles to the hot springs and stay around there, or do a bigger day and maybe outrun the storm. The issue is that we are wearing our only dry clothes and if we get wet we cannot warm up again.
We decide we cannot just stay here and not hike, so we plan to prolong our warmth by packing up slowly, to leave camp at 10:30 to hike to a few miles past the hot springs. JKW says if it did snow again we’d have to just keep walking (ha), maybe all the way to Cajon Pass. But he is right – hiking would be the only way to keep up our body temperatures.
I write a note for Beth and Jamieson and leave it under a rock on a stump, letting them know when we left the campsite and where we’re heading. We set off and despite the lack of sleep agree that we feel good, our bodies are getting strong and we can feel it. Again it’s a beautiful hiking day what with the mild temperature and terrain that is visually stunning and fairly easy; no big prolonged ups. We are just cruising and somehow 40 miles is again mentioned, as a magic number doable by people who have hiked all night before, are badass hikers to begin with and are feeling bulletproof. I believe it was actually JKW’s idea. He’s a bit cra-cra.
I sort of also mention that I believe we could do it and there it is, an idea becomes a plan and is actioned immediately; we are now stopping at the hot springs for a half hour dinner break at probably 7pm, then hiking on through the night to attempt 40 in under 24 hours. Why, you ask? Why not. The reasons why not are many but don’t count right now and are therefore not considered.
There are other great reasons to stay awake – the sky is clear and brilliant, there is a space station crossing the sky just after 4am, and I love hiking at night. Guthooks app warns us of ‘naked, ancient hippies’ at the hot springs and he was spot on. There is also an FDA warning about putting one’s head under the water. Although it looks very tempting we stick to the plan, eating dinner, filling our water and chatting with some other hikers for a bit before moving on, our headlamps at the ready.
Around midnight we walk along the dam wall, over the dam (weird, eerie) and along the road for a bit, past sleeping people, people doing what people do in their houses at midnight. At 4:16 am we are again up above the towns of we think Victorville and Hysperia, and stop to make yet another coffee and watch the space station pass over. I was absolutely fascinated, having never seen it. Three people up there floating around! I also saw a satellite and a couple of shooting stars.
Just on sunrise we came to a cache, complete with water and Cadbury Creme eggs! We signed the book there, the first for today of course! Then it was on towards Silverwood Lake, so gorgeous in the early morning light.
Just past the lake there was a recreation area, where we hit our 40, around 9:30 am. Close by was a toilet and shower block, surrounded by inviting-looking grass begging to be laid upon by sleeping hikers. Happy to oblige I first removed all my wet gear from my pack and draped everything over nearby tree branches before flopping down on my mat and immediately going to sleep.
I was dragged out of my sound sleep by JKW’s voice, telling me we weren’t allowed to stay there and had to leave. “Waaaah?” I said. “You’re not serious?!” Apparently this particular area was off limits to some people some of the time. Being a nosy kinda gal who’d had no sleep and for some as yet undetermined reason had just walked 40 miles in one go, I wanted to know exactly who and why and went to ask the only person I could see, a guy in a work uniform. He explained that the amenities there were just for the workers who maintained the park and surrounds, and directed me to the public campground a half mile away.
Dragging ourselves towards the sounds of energetic people playing volleyball, we found an untenanted dirt field, which we promptly laid down on. As the sun rose higher and hotter it chased us around the field as we moved our mats out of it, only to be woken again, sweating, by the heat. GAAARRR!!!! Right, let’s get out of here, we said! A taxi! I wandered up the road until I had enough service, looked up a taxi company and called them. We agreed to meet at the entrance to the rec area, so walked up there to wait. And wait. And….well, wait. I called back and the driver said yes, he was behind the fire station, like I’d said. Huh? Even Siri couldn’t mistake Silverwood Lake Recreation Area for Behind The Fire Station. Ok well yeah, she could – but a real Live Person? I asked JKW to speak to him, knowing that sometimes my broad Aussie twang is difficult to understand. Alrighty, all sorted now, he’s on his way. Possibly. At some point, maybe in the future. After 40 minutes he called back and a confusing conversation ensued, me only able to hear JKW’s end, who, I might add, has the patience of a saint.
Well, we said, we’re hikers – how about we walk! So off down the road we went, soon coming to the Rangers Station. Wonderful! We said – this gives us an actual address to give the taxi person! But we now have no service. We keep walking until we reach the bottom of the off ramp leading from Highway 138 to Cleghorn Road. Perfect! An intersection! JKW calls a different company and explains we want to be collected from this intersection, and happily we sit down to wait, knowing that within probably under an hour we would be asleep in beds having consumed large amounts of food and ice-cold beverages. Oh, would that were the end of my tale, but alas, no. Nonononono, no, no. The following three hours contained a comedically painful series of calls to and from several different cab companies, JKW even sending a screen shot of the google map of our location, to no avail. We could not be found. Lamenting our fate (to pitch our tents – not a great tragedy but just not our preference right now) we had commenced throwing small rocks onto a big square of concrete to pass the time while we waited, closest to the centre wins. Other hikers came along and joined in, taking the competition very seriously.
This, I believe, will go down in the history books as the Inaugural game of the now-famous Hiker Game, Throwing Shit At Other Shit.
Just when we were considering actually putting our tents up, some dudes in a car slowed down to take a look at us and lo and behold who should it be but Spike!! Oh my goodness! Want a lift? He says. Do we?!. He takes us to Hysperia. We love him. We love you Spike. Comfy beds – check. Food – check. Root beer – check. Sleep – double check.