May 30

Little Round Valley Camp – mile 197

13 miles

Last night was so, so cold. What am I going to do when I get to the Sierras? I need warmer bed pants. Does anyone make down sleeping shorts? Sometimes my new quilt pops open in the worst places. A thicker liner bag? Looking at the map, I guess I camped at 9,700 feet. That sounds high. Maybe that’s why it was cold. 

My feet were extra hurty this morning. Probably from all the big rocks I stepped on yesterday. A little different from sand and gravel. I didn’t get out of sleeping bag right away as it was windy and cold. Those are always the hardest mornings. 

I didn’t have to carry much water because there were streams everywhere. At the last one, I climbed up next to a little waterfall to eat second breakfast and load up on water. The sun had come out and it was a gorgeous, peaceful day on the mountain. My knees took a knocking from all the downhill walking. I’ve always been better on uphill than downhill. The poles help so much. I can feel the pressure coming off my knees when I plant a pole downhill and lean into it. They saved me from a hundred minor skids that could have turned into falls. 

It seemed like there was one turn where the mountain suddenly went from forest back to desert. It was all sand and pokey brush again. No more dinosaur trees. The lizards were suddenly larger. And leapier. Spread out below was the desert pass between San Bernardino and Palm Springs. Huge white windmills gridded the the desert floor. Beyond lay another set of mountains. It’s an intimidating path to follow. Cross that windy desert, climb that next mountain, and the one after that, and the one after that. 

The crazy thing is that I have crossed that windy desert before. About two and a half years ago. I was on my bike, trying to get to Joshua Tree. There was one section where I couldn’t get through. I couldn’t ride on the Interstate or through the Morongo Reservation. It took me hours to find a hobo road next to the railroad tracks. Then my evil Russian bot Garmin directed me onto the PCT for a few miles. In the wind and sand. (One of the reasons why I always carry paper maps – electronics get hacked.)

Anyway I was having some foreboding about going back to that valley. And there was plenty of time to contemplate as I wandered down. The wind picked up as evening fell. I saw a good-ish but kinda windy campsite around mile 195. Comments on Guthooks said there were better ones at 197. Those last two miles took forever but worth it. There were plenty of nearly-level, protected sites. By the time I put up the tent, the wind was gusting around. Still, so much warmer than last night up on the mountain. I had to take off my bed socks.

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