Posted by: blinklove | April 29, 2010

How we fell into a hot spring!

109.6 miles!

Ah, a computer. Along with a heated room, a bed, a hot shower, hot food, hot spring pools…It is all so welcome after a cold and windy morning.

Tuesday night, the 27th, we made it to a flat spot at the top of a mountain in the San Felipe “Hills.” It was about 7:30 p.m. and, I don’t know, breezy. The sun was beginning to set and there were these really sublime disc clouds forming. Beautiful as they were, they were really just a warning of something aweful coming later in the night.

We were something like 5,000 feet up on a flat spot out on the crest of a ridge with a little brush cover around us. At this elevation in the desert you are lucky to find two or three small bushes in the same place. So we set up the tent and opted to also put up the fly as we anticipated a little rain in the early morning.

Somewhere around 1 a.m. we both found ourselves wide awake looking up with frustration at the rain fly as it swelled up like a balloon with the wind then dropped down and slammed into the tent. Each time it would make this terribly violent bang and did so repeatedly and without any sense of rhythm.

Solution: It wasn’t raining so why not just take the rain fly off? Great idea. So we did and the sound stopped and there was no rain. Funny how when you are on the top of a mountain it can be so windy and cloudy and yet free from rain. Also, when you are on top of a mountain, it is funny how you can be in the rain cloud. About five minutes later our tent’s mesh turned into the rain cloud and with every gust of wind we got a shower. It is about 1:30 a.m. and we are now soaking wet, as is all of our gear.

Next Solution: Start hiking. By 2:30 we were packed up, rain gear on, headlamps shining. We descended the San Felipes in a dark rain with wind gusts most likely in the 40 mph range and cacti and cliff edges at terrifyingly close proximity. We made it to the valley by dawn and were in the meadows that surround Warner Springs where each hiker sees trees…huh?…yeah, trees…for the first time. The trees opened to these amazing valley meadows alive with deer and wildflowers and upcropping of rock remniscent of Scotland or the walk to Emerald City to see the wizard. Don’t forget, though, that it was still raining, soggy, and visiblity was severely limited by a cold fog.

Evennnnnnntually, we made it to the intersection of the PCT and Highway 79- the road that leads to “Warner Springs P.O.” so the sign said. Then, I said “Post Office? Who wants to go to a Post Office right now? I want the hot springs. Must be farther up the trail.” So we kept walking. Or, I kept walking, Heather kept hobbling. About a mile or more and I was convinced it was just around the corner. There was a big rainbow spanning the field of wildflowers in front of us. “At the end of this rainbow, that is where we need to go. It’s a sign.” I charged ahead. I stopped at the top of the next hill because again I saw only more open land in front of me. I turned around and about a half-mile back there was Heather sitting with the trail guide open in front of her. “It says here that all the facilities are a 1.3 miles from the trail…down highway 79.” Oops. Two mile detours are a bit hard to swallow when every step is so painful it makes you just want to fall face first into the mud. We turned around and after failing to get a ride we walked the additional 1.3 miles up the highway to check in at Warner Hotsprings Ranch.

It was 10:30 when we dropped our packs and ordered veggie burgers, french fries, orange juice, coffee, pancakes, more french fries, and “we’ll hold on to the menus- just in case…”


p.s. Golf cart rentals are a wonderful idea. Hope it catches on everywhere.

We are loving this trail, despite the pain and struggles it puts us through-testing our ability to thru hike.  We are determined to reach Canada and we want you to know that every donation you make, we are giving 109.6%  =)



  1. i met you outside pokez tonight… the movie was intense… pokez was delicious….
    hope you are well and safe as you continue spreading the positivity.


  2. Stephen and Heather,
    Michael Mount, whose grandparents go to Messiah is on the Crest trail too, and they said he was near or around Warner Springs too. Forget what they said his trail name was. Check him out.

  3. Greetings to a very special pair of hikers. I just learned of your journey from the Best Friends website. A donation was immediately made for your journey. You see, I am orginally from Winston-Salem and know of the benefactors. My husband and I left WS 4 years ago to see the US in an RV. We spent time in Kanab due to it’s close proximity to so many National Parks. The added benefit was seeing Best Friends. What a place!
    I wish you many happy experiences along your path. You both are wonderful inspirations.
    I love Blinklove!!

  4. Stephen and Heather, Anton got his postcard and smelled it. I think he detected your scent. I’m becoming so attached to him. He has such a personality. Not only is he tireless chasing the ball in the yard, but all you have to do is look at him and he runs to get the rope and lays it in your lap. He sleeps on me every night in the great room, and he still does that hound dog thing when barking at people and dogs out the window.
    Stay safe and soak it all in!

  5. I felt i was WITH you reading your description. TERRIFIC. So hope Heather’s feet are better. Rest rest rest… We’re all behind you… (granted, far behind…)

  6. Who would have thought Heather would have been the one to break out the map!
    You guys will have stories to tell throughout your life on this journey.
    I am worried about those beautiful feet, hope the doc can fix you both up.
    Enjoy the showers, bed, and fries!

  7. Stephen, what a beautifully written piece on the night in the rain cloud- but filled with rainbows, deer, meadows and extra miles. Heather, I hope you got some aid for your blisters. What courage it must have taken to keep pushin’ through the pain! I know you’ll have some more tough days, but I also am sure they’ll be outnumbered by the highs. I’m sure french fries never tasted so good after a hot shower.
    Love you both! Dad/truman

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