Day 2: Miller Peak Wilderness to Canelo Hills East
Today I got a late start because I was completely unprepared for the cold outside my tent. I procrastinated doing much other than just staying huddled in my sleeping bag. Finally the sun began to hit my campground and I was ready to start moving after a long and tiring night, kept awake by the cold and consistently strong winds.
It was extra slow going all morning because it turns out I packed some bad nuts and ate a pretty large quantity of them yesterday. Frequent stops forced my pace to only be about one mile per hour after about four hours.
Within those four miles, I made it to bathtub spring early on and used my Sawyer Squeeze Mini for the first time in the field. Fortunately, it seems to work great, it just takes a little time to use properly. It was also quite fortunate that it didn’t actually freeze the previous night, at least not under my tent. Otherwise, the Sawyer would have been worthless.
After bathtub spring, the trail crested over a ridgeline where the wind died down quickly, opening up my day to a potentially more peaceful and relaxing situation than what I experienced overnight. It was an extremely pleasant descent through thick evergreen forests.
Soon I found myself bouncing in and out of evergreen forests to oak tree and grasslands. It turned out to be kind of nice because as soon as I got a little hot in the grasslands hills, it would hop over the ridge into the evergreen forest where snow was still present.
I reached the fork for Sunnyside Canyon around midday and shortly thereafter noticed a much stronger pine and juniper scent from the nearby trees. This lasted a short distance later where the trail began making many sharp and short switchbacks down into the canyon, until finally, a dry creek bed came into view below. The trail followed this for a lengthy distance where I noticed many more birds calling. I even think I saw the tail end (literally) of a kit fox, but he was gone before I even had a chance to react.
The trail continued through oak trees and grasslands along various creeks for quite some time. It was during this stretch that I began to realize that I hadn’t seen another person in 24 hours. It was a rather surreal feeling that I haven’t come to know much at all, but I expect that I will over the course of the trail. I had only just begun to explore more into it when I came upon a family camping just off a dirt road. They asked about the AZT and we exchanged pleasantries before I was on my way again. Just a few steps farther though and I was taken aback by a slight feeling of emotions at having come across other people after realizing how long it had been since I saw anyone.
From there, after passing some wild turkeys, I followed one creek, popped through some high desert grassland landscapes, and continued that pattern for the remainder of the afternoon. With a bit of time to spare before sunset, I found a campsite at the Parker Canyon Trailhead and waited for the night sky to come out while typing this up. As I was nearly complete, a park ranger or border patrol (I couldn’t tell in the dark) pulled up, initiated a friendly but short conversation, and left me with some fresh fruit. Trail angel #1 has arrived.