May 16 (Day 15)

ggy & Bear to Lake Fire Closure (210.8 to 235.5)

Daily miles: 24.7

Intended to take a shuttle around the fire closure (the fire isn’t active, but did enough damage last year to warrant a continued closure), but I was feeling antsy about skipping 25 miles of open trail that lead up to the closure, so I set out at 9 (aka: really late) to walk to the closure and back.  So the challenge I set forth was: cover the 50 miles out and back in 2 days and then catch the shuttle around the closed section.

I entered section C shortly into my hike today, then walked past a big windfarm  and after a good climb made it to the San Gorgonio Wilderness.  Nice huge open views with big mountains and a grassy pasture with what looked like wild horses grazing in it.  Black striated rock mountains in the distance and the beautiful Whitewater Preserve falling away 1000 feet below me.  The river is the largest flowing body of water I’ve seen so far and makes its course over bleach white rock, which makes for a great color contrast against the rest of the scenery.

It’s hot and dry and I can’t stay around water forever, so up I go into the scorched hills.  Ridgelines, views of grandiose San Jacinto (a constant companion for days now), Anza Borrego and it’s hazy endless expanse, San Bernadino mountains: I can see it all standing in one spot.

Later it’s Mission Creek where I almost step on a rattlesnake and then feel dizzy from the rush of adrenaline it gives me.  We have an old fashioned stare-down before the snake loses and slithers away.  I pick my way around the treacherous and poisonous poodle dog bush and walk late into the evening.

The sun sets in the canyon and the glare makes all the dry tops of the burnt grasses go golden so that everything shines and waves in the breeze.  By 8 at night it’s dusk and I’ve walked 24 miles, which makes only a short 1 mile hike to the fire closure tomorrow before the long walk back. 

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