8/30 – 9/2/13
Mileage driven 312
San Bernardino Forest
to the Desert Floor
Labor Day weekend last year was our 25th wedding anniversary. We celebrated by hiking from the private zoo/Onyx Summit area of Big Bear north to Deep Creek Bridge near Lake Arrowhead. We then had done 122 miles of the PCT. I was on top of life.
This Labor Day weekend we hiked from the private zoo/Onyx Summit area south to Cabazon. During the past year we hiked an additional 186 miles for a total of 308 miles. Only 2342 more miles to go, give or take a few.
Those 186 miles were hiked in between 34 doctor appointments, 102 medical procedures including; 6 kick my ass chemo treatments, 35 radiation treatments, 14 Herceptin infusions, (today is 15th), and ear surgery. These miles were hiked in-between dealing with anxiety, thrombophlebitis, anemia, low immunity, neutropenia, rock bottom B12 levels, macrocytic anemia, cellulitis, ear surgery, shingles and other stuff that would be TMI. As my aunt says, as she went thru cancer, “We’d be justified being on the couch all day.”
What keeps me going? I don’t know. There were times on the trail, especially in the desert, when I was dizzy and exhausted, I’d think, why the hell am I here? Why do I insist on doing this? Irish stubbornness? The nature I love? Because I can? Because I refuse, or try, to let this stupid disease defeat me?
Usually on the trail I can relax. This time, my mind just wouldn’t. I developed a mild case of shingles before we left. I DID NOT want to see another doctor, but I didn’t know what this weird rash was, didn’t want it getting worse on the trail, and it was starting to hurt. The doctor gave me a steroid, prednisone, to help it heal faster. I was still taking it on the hike.
I forgot the effects of steroids. This pill was like the decadron I had to take before the kick my ass chemo that kept me awake and moving until I knocked myself out with wine and Xanax. It was a vicious cycle.
So we are hiking along and I say to Lynn, “ What are you thinking about?” He says “ Nothing, just the hike.” I was like, “ Are you kidding? “ I was thinking about solutions to work problems that didn’t really exist, Relay for Life (which, by the way, I have a team in Encinitas), Halloween, my daughter’s marathon, my sons, retirement, errands to run, kitchen tables, ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Three days after being off that steroid, I found my brain on a hamster wheel and rearranging couch cushions at 11 at night because for some reason it needed to be done right then and now.
The hike itself was beautiful. I love being in the redwoods. It rained the first two days in the San Bernardino Mountains, but even that was fantastic. It brought out all these wonderful smells of pine and sage. We hiked 13.6 miles. Not bad considering we didn’t get on the trial until noon, after spending a half an hour trying to find the trail. That was only the beginning of how often we would get lost. The trail isn’t clearly marked and we got lost a lot. Our first night of camping was around mile 240, at Mission Springs Trail camp. This place was pretty cool and very secluded. There were ONLY two other campers there, on a holiday weekend!
The second day we were still in the forest. It rained again. During the rain, we got lost again and found ourselves in a gully. It was raining harder. When I heard thunder, I realized, “Oh crap, there could be a flash flood, and here we are in a prime area for trouble!” We scurried out, made shelter and waited it out for an hour. We hiked 10.9 miles. We eventually followed Mission Creek for about 7 miles. It was great hearing the sounds of the running creek in the distance. That night we found a spot that was our own private beach. We gladly took off our boots and walked around in the sand after cooling our feet in the cool creek water.
The third day we were in the desert sooner than we had expected. I’ve come to confirm that I don’t like the desert. We know better than to hike midday. Had we known, we would have set our alarms for o’dark o’clock to take advantage of the cooler morning hours. We were too tired by nightfall to hike. So we plowed through. I have no idea how hot it was, except frickin’ hot. I believe records were set.
That night we had a nice surprise. We found Whitewater Preserve. It used to be a trout farm. Now it’s a beautiful conservation area, in the middle of nowhere, nestled in the San Gorgonio Mountains. The camping was free. The rangers were really friendly. Again, there were only two other campers there. We have no idea how they drove there. It had a wading pool, a trout pond. There were flush toilets, a real plus. Our last water source was from the Whitewater River. The river did look white but the water collected was brown. Luckily, this place had safe water from the faucet so we didn’t have to filter it. I would highly recommend it if you want to get away to a quiet place. http://www.wildlandsconservancy.org
Last day of hiking we did get an early start. We had only 8 more miles to go to get to Cabazon. It was so hot, it took us longer to get there than planned. Shade was rare. We stopped at any shade we found. At one rest stop we heard this weird animal sound. We realized it was a lone cow. We figured he was bitching about the heat too and looking for his buddies. The cows were the only “wildlife” we saw. Although we did see what we think was a bear print in the mud. Water was less frequent but enough to get us through. However electrolytes would have helped as we ran out of Gatorade mix the day before.
We ended the hike back at Ziggy and the Bear’s. After another 90 min drive to pickup my car, 3½ hour drive home. But we hit a freeway closure one exit before we were to get off. There was a brush fire on the hillside. We went one mile in one hour. Fire season is early this year!