Mile 376 to 402. 26 miles.
Woke up and hit the road about 6:30. The trail stayed on the forest road for another 6 miles or so and I saw that I had 3 G on my phone! Rare for me. So I sat down and uploaded my blog posts.
Once the trail actually became a trail and not a road, it descended down into a valley with a flowing creek and easy hiking for the next few miles. I saw a big sonoran whipsnake but he was too fast for me to catch. I also saw tons of quail! Probably about 100 individuals. They’d fly up in a pair or in big flocks of 15 or so every now and then. Must be a good place for them.
Old car graveyard Huge flowering evening primrose
Just before the highway I was listening to music when I heard a strange sound. I looked down and there is a big Black-tailed Rattlesnake rattling away! AWESOME! The first of that species I’ve seen! He’s right on the trail and holding his ground. I keep my music low just for this purpose, so I can hear when there is a rattlesnake! I take a ton of pictures and videos of him with my iPhone and my Canon Powershot. As I’m taking pictures he gives up on rattling even when I move, but he is keeping his posture. As I am about to go I gently pick him up with my trekking pole and put him off the side of the trail. He’s heavy! He just meanders away from me toward the nearest bush. Now that was amazing! I LOVE rattlesnakes.
Look at those colors!
This is how far I was when he started rattling.
The afternoon has some nice views as I go up a canyon. A large fire had been through here in recent history and the trail is very overgrown. I take a dip in one of the large pools going up the canyon. It’s super cold! And I stay nice and cool for almost an hour while hiking the steep terrain. By the time I’m dry it’s starting to cool off anyway.
Right in the middle of the trail I come across another large sonoran whipsnake! This time I’m able to pin his head with a trekking pole and pick him up! He was rather polite about it actually and didn’t even musk me! I took some pictures of him and his beautiful belly that starts yellow then transitions into pinkish red. I set him down and off he goes!
Look at the belly colors!
The trail finally opens up into a nice flat “road” after a few miles of torturous bushwhacking but this is only for a mile or two. This flat section is also covered in fresh mountain lion tracks. Since the last rain 3 days ago. This makes me uncomfortable. I know they’re pretty much all over the trail but now I KNOW they’re here. Mountain lions freak me out more than any other animal in the United States. They just watch you, follow you, trying to decide if you could become a meal. Everyone has fears of some creature. Some people fear snakes, spiders or other creepy crawlers, well my fear is mountain lions. Give me a pit of snakes and scorpions any day over being creeped on by man sized cats. I’ve had some friends who were stalked by them at night in the PCT and it is just a terrifying ordeal. They never were attacked but to just be walking then you hear a crunch behind you and in the beam of you headlamp is the eyes of a big cat, for miles. Fuck that shit fuck that shit.
Then the trail took another turn for the worse. Back into the overgrown, thorny, cactus ridden “trail.” I was getting lost every few minutes, having to check my GPS to find my way back to trail. Then the trail went down to a creek with a real nice looking camping area with ponderosa pine trees and flat ground but also mountain lion tracks galore. There is also 2 abandoned mines just across the creek that would make a great home for you know who. Yeah I’ll pass on this place. I want to get some more miles in anyway. Then trail disappears into the creek and then the way up and out of the creek are was only findable by my GPS. I go up this shitty hillside full of thorny stuff again and then the trail joins a wash and follows it up for a good while. Less stuff to prick you true but it’s got water in it and it’s just not fun to walk in. I make it to the top of a rise out of the wash and see the trail is about to go around a mountain and into some steep and shady areas. I don’t want to end up not finding a flat place to set up camp in the dark so I decided to call the day 2 miles short of what I wanted so I could set up in sunlight and a flat open area. The whole trail for the last 6 miles or so to where I am now have been lion tracks nonstop. Ughhh. You guys leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone.
Oh yea crossed the halfway point today! Yayyyyyy