It has to be said that the legs were definitely stiff in the morning and only got gradually more painful during today.
We started pretty late from the Hauser Creek Canyon, at around 9 in the morning. The day started with a big ascent to a mountain pass that everyone had warned us about so we expected the worst. It turned out, however, to be pretty gradual as the trail had multiple switchbacks. Then the trail stayed up on the ridge for some time, where we enjoyed some really nice views. After that we descended down to Lake Morena. That was eight kilometers in the bag. We had around 40 minutes of break where we also met our first on-trail trail angel. We got some cold refreshments and fruit, which gave us plenty of energy to continue on. The next water source was in around 10,6km (6.6mi) so we filled our water bottles just enough with a little extra.
The walk started with a gradual increase in elevation and we pretty much climbed over another hill – but a little bit smaller this time. The midday sun made it slightly more difficult and the muscle pain kept reminding us that it’s still there and has no intention of leaving.
Nevertheless, after these miles we made it to the Boulder Oak campground, where we took another longer break with some other hikers, discussing emergency beacons and sharing some trail tales, it’s always a lot of fun. We had some snacks and filled in our water bottles. We then had the option of hiking another 9,6km (6mi) to the next campground (there would even be showers!) or camp after about 4,8km (3mi) at the Kitchen Creek side trail. With our broken spaghetti legs we decided for the latter – and I’m glad we did. We set up our tent as the sun was setting behind the mountain ridge. Kristians took a river shower using his bottle as you are not allowed to dip yourself in the water that someone downstream might use for drinking. Shivering from freshness, Kristians gathered some firewood and started the fire to warm up while I prepared the dinner. We invited two other hikers to join our fire and enjoy their dinner with us. It was a very cozy atmosphere – we shared some trail tales while enjoying the fire and the evening under the desert stars and moonlight. After around an hour it was bed time, Kristians extinguished the fire and we went to bed. However, we found ourselves in the center of a frog orchestra playing various sonatas. Not the most enjoyable bed time music but we couldn’t change the song. Tiredness helped us fall asleep regardless.