The Desert. Twelfth Stretch: Bird Spring Pass to Kennedy Meadows.

I groggily opened my eyes and realized the sun was up. Way up.

Badfish's beer generosity had put me to sleep hard. The night had been windy and the tent was still violently pulsing with every gust. I had planned on getting up early to tackle the first uphill in the cool of the morning.

But why do that when you could trudge up a hot hill in the sun while being mildly hungover instead?

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The Desert. Tenth Stretch: Manzana Wind Farm to Highway 58.

My eyes slowly opened to the dim blue light of dawn outside the violent confines of my loosely pitched tent. I could tell immediately that at least one tent stake had pulled out throughout the long night of punishing winds and sideways gusts of rain.

Still lying down, I attempted to recruit the muscles needed to sit up, gritted my teeth through the whole body pain... and failed. Uh oh. I don't think my hair even made it off the pillow.

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The Desert. Ninth Stretch: Green Valley Fire Station to Manzana Wind Farm.

I woke up early to get out of the fire station gazebo before any of the crew showed up. The blisters on my heels had refilled themselves overnight and loudly reminded me they weren’t fans of walking today.

A water faucet at the station allowed for some quick laundry. Invigorated by the fresh smell of my disgusting feet all over my hands, I loaded up on water for a long, dry, uphill stretch ahead of me.

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The Desert. Eighth Stretch: Acton to Green Valley Fire Station.

The Acton KOA had a really nice grass area to camp, but the morning dew had settled heavily. Once again, my sleeping bag was soaked.

Melanie was driving to the KOA to pick me up, so I headed for the camp shower to rinse of some of the stink. I didn’t have any soap to speak of…. So I made little headway in the stink removal department. Actually, I might’ve just humidified the stink…

'Whatever. I tried. She married this stink. Totally stuck now.' I smiled and fist-bumped my wedding ring.

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The Desert. Fourth Stretch: Idyllwild to Big Bear.

I knew I was confident on snow. I knew I was confident in the capabilities of my microspikes. I knew I could turn around.

I also knew what everyone was saying about Fuller Ridge. I knew people were skipping past it, lots of people. Probably three out of four hikers were avoiding the snow and going up snow-free trails to reconnect with the PCT after Fuller Ridge. Excuses ranged from "I have no snow gear" to "I have no experience on snow" to "I heard somebody slid 1000 feet down the ridge AND ALMOST DIED".

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