I fear I’m getting lazy again.
It was sensible to maintain an easy pace the first couple weeks of this hike, but I still felt I should have been pushing myself. Then for a few days over the San Jacinto Mountains, the terrain gave me the challenge I expected.
Now I feel I'm settling back into complacency. My miles per day have picked up, but I still don’t feel I’m pushing myself.
|Date||Saturday, April 20, 2019|
|Weather||Partly cloudy skies, with temperatures staying in low 70s until mid-afternoon, then warming to the low 80s|
|Trail Conditions||Moderate ups and downs, with brief road walking |
Again today, I took my time to pack up my gear and get on the trail. I was the last to leave camp at 7:30 a.m.
This has become my morning routine. I know I can walk at my own pace without being concerned about falling too far behind the other tramily members. They will be taking breaks, which will make it possible to catch up with them.
For a time today, though, I thought I had miscalculated that.
The morning was pleasant, but it was already a little warmer than most of the mornings so far.
There were also several clumps of firecracker penstemon.
The terrain was wide-open in this section. That was partly because a fire had destroyed a large swath of trees in the area. I’m not certain, but I think that fire was the Pilot Fire, which burned more than 8,000 acres in 2016.
I neared Cedar Springs Dam at 10 a.m. The trail in this area crossed and followed California Highway 173.
Unlike the Mojave River Dam I passed yesterday, this dam uses control gates to maintain a constant water level in a reservoir, Silverwood Lake.
At this point, I couldn’t see the lake water. My view was blocked by a high, earth-fill side that towered above me.
The lake’s surface was near the top of the wall, so I was walking below the waterline.
The trail took me through a storage yard at the dam’s power plant. I then stopped at the entrance where an awning provided a little shade and I ate a snack.
After the trail climbed about 300 feet, the lake came into view. Nevertheless, I couldn’t see the town of Cedar Springs, which gave the dam its name. That’s because the town was submerged when the reservoir was filled in the early 1970s.
The water level was dropped a few years ago so engineers could bring the outflow towers up to current earthquake standards. The drawdown exposed roads and foundations of buildings, plus an airplane and a few boats.
Authorities were able to identify the owner of one boat, and when he came to retrieve it he was delighted to find his wife’s purse, his wallet, and a set of tools were still in it.
As I followed the trail around the lake, I kept a lookout for my friends. There were a few beaches and picnic areas within view of the trail, and I guessed they would stop at one of these for lunch.
I didn’t want to walk down to one of the spots, though, unless I knew for sure my friends were there. I never saw them, so when I reached a small stream I stopped for lunch and to collect water.
Was this was the first lunch on the trail that had eaten alone? Just as I asked myself that question, the tramily caught up to me. They told me they had stopped at a beach. I only failed to see them.
As the trail left the lake it took several switchbacks up a long climb. It went up about 950 feet in the next four miles, which wasn’t steep, but the day was getting much warmer.
I struggled a little in this section because of the heat, but I knew tomorrow would be better. That’s because I knew we would reach Interstate 15 at Cajon Pass. This was a spot every PCT hiker looked forward to because a short distance from the trail was a McDonald's restaurant.
I could put off my minor troubles knowing cheeseburgers and milkshakes were less than a day away.
Gilligan was finding today much more difficult and it wasn’t because of the heat. The foot problems that had been nagging her for the last few weeks were not getting any better.
When we stopped to rest in the shade I could tell her feet were becoming more bothersome.
We reached our campsite at 5:15 p.m. During dinner, Gilligan said she was thinking about skipping ahead after we reached Cajon Pass. She said she could wait for us in Wrightwood, our next stop for resupply.
We didn’t like to hear this. Still, we hoped some time off would help her heal.
Secretly, I hoped the stop at McDonald's would be enough to make her feel revived. The idea of our group breaking apart was not a good one to contemplate, even just a little.