Day 18: (14 miles)
mile 219 – 233 / 2606 ft – 5061 ft
Once we walked out of the preserve the heat was already starting to rise.
It was 7am and 70 degrees…so much for an early start. The trail was sandy river bottom and followed the contour of Whitewater River (looked more like a creek) which we crossed several times. After three miles the trail turned inland (east) and as usual started to climb in elevation. We topped off on a ridge line that rolled along for approximately 6 miles.
There we ran into “Moose” from Huntington Beach who was trying to finish his SOBO (southbound) hike by doing it in sections. We talked briefly and he updated us on our water prospects. At mile 226 we dropped down into Mission Creek. As we strode along the trail and were nearing the creek we heard a loud buzzing above us that almost sounded like a jet airplane dive bombing us. On the ground in front of us our own personal cloud appeared. It appears that we were about to have another wildlife encounter. If these were African bees we were screwed. You’re supposed to run as fast as you can for up to 1/4 mile to avoid being swarmed and stung repeatedly, and the running part was just NOT going to happen. Good thing we have the Delorme InReach. As luck would have it, the bees continued on and so did we. When we reached the creek, which was flowing strong, we filtered 4 liters of water and drank 2 more as we sat in the glorious shade. 5 minutes later another hiker, “Recon”, joined us in the shade and asked us if we had seen the giant swarm of bees. 10 minutes after that 8 more arrived. After a while we left the group and continued on.
The trail paralleled Mission Creek for several miles and we collected water one last time to be ready for the next days haul.
Our goal was to make it to 235…we made it to 233. Tired and fully spent, we cowboy camped (as if we had any other choice) under a star filled sky, dozing off while watching the satellites crisscross the night sky above us.