Although I still had to do a small amount of repacking and also clean the pan I’d used, I didn’t have to tear down a tent or roll up a mat, so it was still easy enough to get out and lock up by 9:30am. I even had enough time to finally make use of the razors I’d been carrying around since Idyllwild, and there was a LOT of excess facial hair to remove. It took a solid 15 minutes to mow it all down.
Anyway, I left town the same way I came in, through the Burnt Rancheria Campground, and had found my way to the trail again by 9:45. The Santa Ana winds had really picked up over night and were blasting me with enough cold air all day that I hiked in my coat even in direct sunlight. It was especially powerful on hilltops and any hillside facing east. I managed to find a nice little nook surrounded by boulders on a leeward hillside overlooking Cibbets Flat to eat lunch without being frozen to death.
It was already late in the day as I came down the ridge to Boulder Oaks, passing rock formations reaching for the sky like sleeves of french fries. I passed under the I-8 freeway in a fenced-off hardwood forest, the heavily trafficked bridges three stories above me. On the other side, the trail followed a paved road to the entrance to Boulder Oaks Campground, closed for the season and barred even to day use. I took a break at the Campground Host’s site to collect some water from the faucet. The water was still on, and there hadn’t been any water on the trail all day after all, only what I had carried from the tiny house.
The trail left the backside of this campsite via a wide sandy path through a field of high scrub brush (probably more Rosaceae). Soon, I crossed a small road, took a hard left, and followed a wide path along the side of Buckman Springs Road until I reached the underpass. By this time, the sun had disappeared. On the other side of the underpass, the trail had been buried in heaps of tumbleweeds as high as my head piled up by the high winds. I shoveled them off the trail with my trekking poles.
Beyond this, the trail returned to being a wide sandy path through bushes. I walked until I was just a mile outside of Morena Village. There were myriad nooks of flat, clear dirt among the bushes just off trail, so I found one where it seemed my tent would be best hidden from passersby and stopped for the night. It was a relatively early night compared to recent nights, but it set me up perfectly to arrive in Morena Village just in time for a good hot breakfast the following morning.
Total distance: 21 miles