PCT Day 22
Miles: 213.4 - 226.2
Photo: Bridge to Whitewater Preserve
The cowboy camping was a success! I got a decent night’s sleep in the extreme wind! The only issue (that I can improve on at least) was that my pillow flew away a few times. I’m just so used to being in a tent. The moon woke me up a few times since it was extremely bright. Fun to look at, but sleep is more fun IMO. My biggest fear was bugs and critters but I didn’t notice any extra bug bites! I’ll be cowboy camping more in the future!
I woke up in front of the Mesa Wind Farm, which is a hiker-friendly business on the outskirts of Cabazon. At the start of the workday, they opened up the office for hikers to come in and relax. They had microwavable foods for sale so people could have an easy breakfast. I passed and ate my regular breakfast, but I did get some cold water. That alone was a real treat after drinking nothing but hot water all day yesterday (if you ignore In-N-Out).
The main spectacle of the day was the stop at Whitewater Preserve. An old trout farm that was converted into a nature preserve. It had a pool to dip your feet in, nice drinking water, a large gazebo with benches to sit down and eat lunch, outlets to charge electronics, and lots of shaded areas to escape the sun. I did all of the above, which included eating the leftovers from yesterday as part of lunch. Now I know burgers and fries hold up well in a backpack. It was an absolutely beautiful place along the trail. A true oasis! I would happily make a day trip out here for a picnic in the future.
While I was leaving, I noticed no trash cans and signs saying why (Leave No Trace). Since I didn’t want to carry some of my garbage, I kindly asked a couple in the parking lot if they would take it for me. They knew I was a PCT hiker and seemed happy to do it. By far the weirdest thing I’ve had to ask of a stranger. I’ve learned that I need to drop my ego to get through this hike though so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The unfortunate thing was that Whitewater Preserve was only at the beginning of the day. The hiking was borderline unbearable after that. Had to take lots of breaks because of the heat. One was next to a river where there was no shade. Other hikers made makeshift tarps with their rainfly. I just had my small sun umbrella. It still provided ample shade then and throughout the day. Even so, I was dreading the hike. When the clock rolled to 6:00, I just stopped at the nearest campsite which also happened to be the start of Mission Creek. Hoping tomorrow isn’t nearly as soul-crushing as today ;__;