Day 10: Little Round Valley to Ziggy & the Bear (26.2 miles)
Updated: Aug 21, 2019
May 17, 2016 - I was tired after all that climbing yesterday, but that view was worth it. Got going later than normal but felt my body could use the extra rest. Tyler and Ryan hadn’t moved since I got up so I figured I wouldn’t see them again.
I started my descent to the desert floor, from 9800 feet to 2000 feet over 20 miles. I still had a few miles to hike to get back to where the side trail intersects with the PCT. Soon getting back on the PCT I came across a nice cascading snow melt stream so I filled up water since that would be the last water source I would see until I got near the bottom.
The first few miles was mostly in tree cover so not much of a view. Then as I’m about to leave the thick forest I come to a dirt road where a guy was making fresh squeezed orange juice. I happily took some and chatted for awhile, also gave me an orange to go.
I come out of the woods and onto a ridge line to some incredible views of the desert and surrounding mountains. It stayed like this for several miles, slowing going down to the desert floor.
The trail took lots of switchbacks down which made for lots of different views. Then I come around a turn to view the mountains across the desert that I had seen earlier in day but now was covered in black clouds. So I raced down the mountain because I didn’t want to be caught on those steep slopes in a thunderstorm, I did fall at one point but no serious injury. Luck for me a fell forward and not to my left otherwise I would have fallen down the mountain.
My goal at the time was to get to a flat section in case the weather gets real bad to where I could set up my tent. I finally get to my lunch stop where I had planned. So I ate lunch fast trying to decided to set up my tent and let the storm pass. I still had lots of downhill to go but I was done with the steepest part. I decided to stay which not sure if that was correct decision or not but didn’t want to gamble of getting caught on the side of an expose ridge in a lightening storm. So I set up my tent and waited. The storm moved much slower than I thought and nothing really happened for about an hour. I figured had I kept going I might had been able to outrun the storm. The storm lasted about 2 hours and it appeared to had pass so I packed up and left thinking the worst was over but I was wrong. After about a mile of hiking again it started to pick back up. The rain and wind was pretty strong at times but that was the least of my worries, it was the lightening I didn’t like. This lasted for about an hour. During all this I passed the 200 mile mark so of course I stopped to take a selfie. Then finally with 2.5 miles to go until my camping spot it stopped and it was like it never rained but by then I was just about at the desert floor.
I get to the camping area at the bottom around 7pm. I had thought about going on to the hostel, Ziggy & the Bear, but was going to wait until after dinner to decided. After dinner I see Tyler roll in and he says he is moving on so I figure I might as well, it’s only a 6 mile hike through the desert and under interstate 10 and might as well take advantage of the cool weather.
The hike to the hostel wasn’t bad until it got dark, even with a headlamp staying on trail was hard, everything looked the same as there was no real markers, thanks goodness for the Halfmile App on my phone we were able to find the trail. We roll into the hostel at 9pm just as it’s lights out time, they have pretty strict rules at Ziggy & the Bear Hostel. We are given the house rules then off to bed. All the hikers sleep in the backyard under a giant porch and tent, lots of room for us 20 hikers.
Tomorrow I’m going to have to make a decision about the upcoming fire closure. I have 3 choices:
1. Take a shuttle to Big Bear Lake, which almost everyone does, skipping 50 miles of trail (this is actually the official suggestion by the PCTA).
2. Take a sketchy 50 mile road walk.
3. Ignore the closure sign and hike through.
Right now I’m leaning towards just hiking through or taking the road walk. I just can’t decide but I just know for sure there is no hitching for me. The rumor on trial is that the closure is doable and several have done it. Also there is another rumor that rangers are giving out fines to those entering in the close section. Also I hear the trail is fine that since no one has signed off on it being open and just wait until next season to officially open it. Tomorrow I’ll have several miles before I’ll have to decided when I get to the trail junction with Whitewater Preserve.