Mile 604 to mile 631, 27 miles
Cost: camped, free
It was so nice to wake to a sunny day! Our perfect camp site was a little too perfect with no wind and we all woke covered in condensation but at least we would have a chance to dry out in the sun.
There was a water source after only 4 miles (Landers fire tank) and soon after we arrived and started filtering water (and drying out gear), a Trail Angel called Cinnabon and her 9 year old son Cinnabug pulled up in their car. Cinnabug came around handing out donuts to the hikers while Cinnabon laid out a massive spread of food on the bonnet of her car. We were like vultures and ate bagels with cream cheese, hummus, salsa, corn chips, toasted pita chips, cake, yoghurt and vitamin drinks – it was incredible, thank you so much Cinnabon & Cinnabug!! They also told us they had just stocked up a water cache 7 miles up the trail, I felt so spoilt!
I met lots of new hikers at the fire tank: Turkey, ahum (the noise you make when you clear your throat), Lebowski, Beetlejuice, Thunderbunny, Smoky, KC and Shepherd (a fellow Aussie whose blog I follow, Bike hike safari).
Soon after leaving the water cache (a further 7 miles on from the fire tank), the trail was made up of deep sand and the wind was against us. I started thinking about the best way to train for the desert section of this hike: fill a backpack with bricks, then find a beach with the deepest and softest sand, add gale force winds against you and walk 700 miles! Ok, and add in tons of amazing views and terrific hikers 🙂
The sandy trail was quite narrow with bushes all along it and all of a sudden I was about to put my foot down on a rattle – the tail of a rattlesnake kind of rattle. I think the sequence of events went something like this: my right foot up in the air is about to come down, a rattlesnake under my foot (out of sight behind a bush) goes crazy rattling its tail at me, I try to jump over it, I trip somehow, my left foot gets stuck in a bush, I topple over it, I land a few metres down the hill on top of one of the many cactuses out here, a little battered and punctured with cactus needles but happy to be alive and amazed I didn’t get bitten by the diamond back rattlesnake.
I was at least 2 metres away from the snake but it was still in the middle of the trail rattling at me and I’m sure it could have reached me if it tried. I undid my pack, rolled over and saw the cactus I was sitting on. Ouch. Shepherd came along the trail while I was pulling out needles and fine prickly hairs from my bum and legs. The snake had moved into a different bush and Shepherd took a few photos with his and my camera (I was still shaking!)
I said thanks to the snake for not biting me and continued on, trying to hike another 10 miles to Bird Spring Pass where I’d heard there were some good camp sites behind boulders. It was dark by the time I got there using my headlamp and I bumped into (or shined my headlamp into the eyes of) Bucket, Fancypants and Rally. They were cowboy camping and pointed out a few places where I could pitch my tent and that I couldn’t see in the dark. I found a great little spot behind a Joshua Tree and it was the perfect protection I needed from the wind. By the time I started cooking dinner it was after hiker midnight (9pm) and I practically fell asleep eating my ramen. It was a long day.