PCT Day 130, Cedar Spring to ridge above Anza, 18 miles

I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world. – Mary Anne Radmacher

Sunset over Anza, California from a secret campsite.

Sunset over Anza, California from a secret campsite.

How strange it is to cowgirl camp under the big trees, acorn bombs falling most of the night and a nearly full moon shining through the branches. When I close my eyes, I’m just in bed, then open them to see stars and hear some creature – a squirrel? – chattering loudly. I sip coffee (vanilla at the moment) with bars in bed before packing up, including four full water bottles, to head back up the steep, overgrown side trail back to the PCT.

Shadows rippling on the foothills above the desert.

Shadows rippling on the foothills above the desert.

Exposed rock in uplifted layers.

Exposed rock in uplifted layers.

Fields of dried flowers rustle against my pant legs.

Fields of dried flowers rustle against my pant legs.

Everything is prickly in the desert.

Everything is prickly in the desert.

The day's hike is uphill nearly the entire way to the last water source.

The day’s hike is easy and mostly downhill the entire way to the last water source.

It’s a gorgeous ridge walk seeing both desert and mountain on a fairly easy trail before descending into a rock strewn wonderland. I’m surrounded by granite and walk on it as well, then sand with cactus next to oak, and gnats finding my eyeballs and nostrils. The bug burka helps when I sit on a rock for a snack. If I could take these boulders home, I’d use them to lounge on in my living room I love the feel so much.

Slowly the trail begins to flatten out under huge hedge-like bushes, taking me in a circuitous route to highway 74. A mile down it is a cafe that’s highly recommended, but I only just had fantastic meals in Idyllwild and I’m carrying all the food I need. I’m not really in the mood to hitch or sit down to eat, so what a wonderful surprise to find a water cache at the road. Ted and I have lunch and camel up, plus fill our bottles for the six miles to the next water. Thanks, trail angels! Now I can skip the cafe and just keep walking.

The next section changes dramatically to an almost fully mesquite landscape, their soft green branches topped with bright orange tassels, deep red bark peeling. We walk through a section of eroding cliffs like South Dakota’s badlands. San Jacinto peak rises far in the distance, the tallest thing around. I see a new cactus and a different variety of yucca here as we pass several tent sites and realize that we have plenty of water and can choose a site to camp before the water tank ahead rather than camp there. Carrying does offer flexibility.

Trail Angels stashed an entire cooler of water stashed near Highway 74.

Trail Angels stashed an entire cooler of water stashed near Highway 74.

Dried flowers betray a spectacular spring past.

Dried flowers betray a spectacular spring past.

A yucca carcass like a hula skirt.

A century plant carcass like a hula skirt.

Pine trees in the High Desert.

Pine trees in the High Desert.

Evidence of the scouring power of water.

Evidence of the scouring power of water.

A bone dry tree reaches towards a bluebird sky.

A bone dry tree reaches towards a bluebird sky.

Ponderosa pinecones have sharp, sappy spines.

Ponderosa pinecones have sharp, sappy spines.

The trail heads deep into a canyon and dry riverbed that looks too closed in for camping. That means a long climb, but it’s still light and feels good at the end of the day. We ramp up slowly, with views of surrounding mountains, cross a road, then come over a rise with a view to the small town of Anza in a valley. A side trail leads up to a hump on a kind of peninsula, almost like an island in the sky. Well placed granite provides seats with stunning views and one large flat spot becomes our cowgirl set up.

I make my potato/salmon mix for Ted which tastes a bit like a seafood bisque. We eat heartily as the sky turns orange and stars come out. The moon is so bright, there’s no need for a light. Step by step, I’m getting closer to the end, with Warner Springs my next town-stop, a tiny village in San Diego county. The wind is blowing gently and I’m plenty warm wearing my puffy and leggings. Anza’s lights wink up from the valley and mountainside, and even though it’s 6:30, my eyelids are closing as I dream about tomorrow and what I’ll see. Sweet dreams!

Chaparral turning a bright orange in fall.

Chaparral turning a bright orange in fall.

Peeling red bark reveals soft flesh beneath.

Peeling red bark reveals soft flesh beneath.

A hiker long gone leaves a heart made of collected stones.

A hiker long gone leaves a heart made of collected stones.

Cactus in the setting sun, the yellow flowers crispy dry.

Cactus in the setting sun, the yellow flowers crispy dry.

The PCT passes by a "badlands" of eroding mountainside.

The PCT passes by a “badlands” of eroding mountainside.

Healthy, soft needles on a Pinyon Pine.

Healthy, soft needles on a Pinyon Pine.

Published by alison young

Alison Young is the Blissful Hiker, a voice artist and sometime saunterer. 📣🐥👣🎒

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