Another beautiful day in the south land with highs around 60. It rained on us some last night, and was cold, but that’s behind us now.
Things are going fine. I’m wicked tired and sore, but seems to be all just muscles. Feet are good. No blisters.
We’re shooting for MP 32 today. Then we have 10 more miles tomorrow to get our first town stop in Mt Laguna. I promise during our zero there to learn how to attach photos!
Post Trail Edit: The First Three Days
Wow, this blog is really incomplete here at the start. Let me try to fix that.
The first day went pretty well. I’ve read a lot of PCT blogs, and it was cool to see a lot of places that I’ve seen photos of, like the Mile 1 sign, and where the PCT crosses its first railroad tracks. Apparently, I didn’t take any photos on Day One myself, so, sorry about that. Our packs were heavy, but we hiked the way I used to hike when I was a teenager carrying entirely too much weight: hike for 45 minutes, then rest for 15. I can put up with a lot of suffering if I know it’s only for 45 minutes.
I was surprised how pretty it was. Lots of big boulders and rock, with thick vegetation and plenty of flowers. Until we walked into our first burned area, which was kind of sad looking. We had planned to hike 10 miles, but when we got there, it didn’t look promising, so we kept walking.
Around sunset, around Mile 11, I decided it was time to camp, even if we had to camp on the trail itself. I found two wide spots, big enough for one person each, about 50 feet apart so we could each bed down without blocking the trail. I gave David the bigger spot since he wanted to pitch his tent. I showed him a few tricks like check and make sure you’re not camping on an anthill, and how to stake a tent in sand, and then I went back and deployed my camp, and drank some whiskey, and ate my Subway sandwich.
I’d call Day One a success.
I woke up to a young couple hiking by, wishing me good morning (I was “cowboy camping”, so I was right there). It was between first light and sunrise. I guess they want to beat the heat!
I got up, and at sunrise I got David up, and we hit the trail pretty early, even if I did have to chill for 30 minutes because I pack up a lot faster than David.
We were up pretty high, and we wandered along, and then down through Hauser Creek (dry, but with a water cache, which we didn’t need) and then up the other side. It was the hottest part of the day, and I could see up the switchbacks that some hikers had deployed their “chrome domes” for shade, but I don’t think it was much above 65F. I’m saving my chrome dome for some real, Mojave heat. Up to 100, I’m going to try to build some heat tolerance.
We made it up and over and down to Lake Morena Campground easy enough. I think we got there around 3. The bad news is, you’re supposed to register at the office, which is like a quarter mile west, but you camp about 100 yards east from where the trail comes down. So, more walking. There’s two campsites for PCT hikers. We walked by the first one and it looked full and pretty crowded, so we walked to the one on the outskirts and it was mostly empty. I made my camp behind some bushes that blocked the wind.
The cement picnic tables weren’t very comfortable, but the grass was good. I met a young couple from Redding, Junior and Jen, and I lay on the grass and talked to them while they set up their camp. Nice folks! They were the ones who walked by me on the trail this morning. I learned there was a store not too far away, and I was feeling a little rested, and a little low on whiskey, so David and I walked to the store and back.
I shared my whiskey with some of the hikers gathered under the copula as it started to rain a little. I was cowboy camped, so I ran over to my camp and pulled my rainfly over my sleeping bag. In the end, that’s how I slept: cowboy with the rainfly over me like a tarp, no tent. It didn’t rain all that much, and the bushes blocked most of the wind and a lot of the rain. I was fine.
Everything was wet when I woke up, but not too bad. It was kind of chilly so I packed up quickly and wanted to start hiking to get warm. David was on a different schedule. After being packed up, shivering on the concrete bench for a while, I said, “I gotta go. I’m sure you’ll catch me up.” I knew the trail was just to our east, so I headed cross-country over this little ridge until I saw a heavily traveled trail heading north, which I took.
It was a beautiful, flat meadow, with a clear trail, but I started to wonder. I didn’t see enough footprints. Where are the marks from the trekking poles? I checked my phone app and realized I was on the wrong trail. Crap! I can make it back to the PCT, but now I don’t know if David is ahead of me, or behind me. And he hikes fast, and he knows he’s behind, so if he’s ahead of me trying to catch up, who knows if I will ever catch him?
I scurried back to the trail and started hiking fast to try to catch him, figuring I’d rather be in front, like we planned, than be behind. Anyway, I made it. Within an hour I heard someone coming up from behind and it was him.
We stopped at Boulder Oaks Campground for water, had some lunch, and dried out some of our gear in the sun.
Later in the day we needed water, and there was supposed to be some at this stream the trail crossed. But where the trail crossed was dry. I had seen water not too far back, only it was a few hundred vertical feet down this dangerous slope, so I made us go back a mile or so, and down the scary slope, so we could get some water. It was really pretty down there. Beautiful stream. Beautiful day. I washed my feet and contemplated a swim.
Eventually, we hiked out, and around, and made camp under some huge oak trees by a dry stream (Fred Canyon). Around sunset we got company, Andy and Alison, who were good neighbors.
13 miles to Mt. Laguna tomorrow. Mostly uphill, but shouldn’t be too bad.