17. April 27: Mile 201.69 Campsite to Mile 218.50 Whitewater Preserve
So at midnight last night I made the decision to pack up and go down trail to the next campsite in hopes that it would be more sheltered. That site was no better and I had to go all the way down into the valley to the water source at mile 206. On the trail, though, my headlamp would catch the eyes of either bobcats or cougars and freaked me the fuck out. They were probably bobcats, but there was a pair of them and they followed me down in the ridge for a bit. Once I got to the eventual final campsite at 2:40 I just cowboy camped without a groundsheet because I was too tired to take it out. It was still very windy, but I found what I thought was a campsite on the other side of the road from the water tank, but when I woke up I realized that it was actually a roadside gravel parking area. Around 7:00 I heard Cougar’s voice and I woke up to find all three of them at the water tank. Both McDirty & Cougar and Glow Worm had moved campsites a few times in the night as well. None of us got much sleep. On the hike out this morning we crossed paths with a guy who works for the local utility company and he said that even though it’s always windy here, this is about as bad as he’s seen it. We continued our decent afterwords into the valley proper and under I-10 where we found some much needed trail magic. There were bananas, tangerines, and Sprite. We even were offered cheese sticks by another hiker. Since I did the first 4 or so miles in the middle of the night we only had like. 10 mile day. I ate lunch around 11:30, but right after there was a deceivingly hard climb out of this canyon and the other side had a long and very hot decent with many switchbacks down into Whitewater River. It was there that I met up with Glow Worm again and we walked to the Whitewater Preserve which allows hikers to camp in their field. I got to bathe and do laundry in the river and set up camp. McDirty and Cougar showed up as well. A lot of the people that were affected by last night’s winds are here too including Charlie Brown. The field is next to a massive sandstone cliff and I’m currently watching mountain goats scamper about along its steep ridges. I will say the desert has been amazingly diverse. Two days ago I was on top of San Jacinto and it had pine forests and snow and now I’m at the bottom of an arid canyon with sandstone cliffs. All kinds of wildlife and each mini ecosystem is so different mile to mile. Still very windy again tonight. Not as bad as last night, but the ground is also firm turf as opposed to loose sand so my stakes should hold.