April 14 (~07:25 – ~16:25)
Along Mojave River – before Silverwood Lake (16.9 mi / Total: 320.7 mi)
Weather: Warm, windy in the afternoon.
I wake up to Speedy munching through her breakfast, open my eyes and call out in distress, ‘Where my tent? Somebody stole my tent!’
Oh, the joys of cowboy camping. I enjoyed this night, another night of sleeping on top of a mountain and under the stars, the moon always brighter than you’d expect it to be. I never thought I’d take to cowboy camping, but I have, and I wish I could do it every night.
Despite the good night sleep, Prince never showed. Surely we’ll see him today, surely we will. Speedy is off quickly and then I also continue the trail above Mojave River. It’s doesn’t take long before I pass the hot springs alongside the river, and it looks like this place will soon turn into a funfair with people who are making themselves way too comfortable for such a public space.
I pass without checking out the springs, continuing the somewhat busier trail, so unlike most of the PCT, litter and graffiti on rocks, and I’m happy when I make it to the defunct Mojave River Forks Dam. I pass some hikers, one of them seems to have removed his trousers or shorts and is walking in his underwear (Why? Why?! How bad is this chafe?) and in my urge to move ahead from all of these unwanted sights, I quickly continue on to where the GPS tells me to cross the river. I notice instantly it’s not the ideal location – there are fallen trees and I find my first rattlesnake lounging on the sand. I move around it and wade through the sandy river, then pull myself up onto shore on the other side, bushwhacking around the trees. I find the trail not long after, and continue until I find Speedy sitting next to the actual, much easier crossing, a little further upstream.
We sit there for quite some time, watching PCT hikers and day trippers come and go, still debating whether Prince is far ahead or patiently waiting under that first bridge, and then, out of nowhere he comes, bouncing through the water. We cheer. We found Prince!
We are reunited. We try to figure out what happened. It seems that Prince was probably just out of sight, filtering water, when Speedy looked for him at the bridge. Later on I must’ve passed him just as he was looking for a camp spot off trail. He ended up camping some miles before us, and spent the morning covering a crazy distance, hoping to catch us.
We stay at the river for ages. We talk abut our hitch to the Apple store and decide against the initial idea to do another long day, book it in the morning and get there for the afternoon. If we give ourselves two average hiking days to get to Cajon Junction, our hitching point, then we’d have the entire next morning to devote to the store, and visit Walmart and REI and anything else we may need. It also means that tomorrow afternoon we’d get to the McDonalds that’s just off trail, and that’s a strange but very real highlight of the PCT – I’m really looking forward to a McFlurry.
I get back to the trail just before the others, and continue the path as it ascends and sidles along the dry hills. I’m enjoying the walk. It’s scenic and I see a beautiful stream with large rocks where I dove to sit in the sun and have lunch, but it’s too early. I keep on going, past the wildflowers and when it’s time for lunch, I find a rock next to a small stream on to which I sit and spread out my food. All these days in the wild, and still the break spots don’t always work out.
That afternoon we find another spot to cowboy camp. We’re hidden behind some bushes, in long wild grass, the ground somewhat slanted. The wind blows from behind but I don’t mind – the stars are all around me, and tomorrow we’re going to McDonalds.