Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 10

We hiked today!  But not as far as we set out to.  Single Malt stubbed his toe pretty bad on a rock last night so we decided to take it slower.  After 12 or so miles we stopped at the Guzzler.  It's a concrete slab that collects rain into a tank.
I walked ahead a half mile to where a flowing creek was reported.  Sure enough, they're rare and look like a hidden oasis in this desert.  I stuck my feet in a pool and waited for the others to catch up.  Doesn't look like much in this picture but it was pretty great.  Washed my shirt and socks too, nothing like a soaked shirt to keep you cool.
We ended up spending a couple hours here enjoying the cool shade.  Oh and speaking of socks, problems have appeared.
We walked on in the late afternoon with only a few more miles planned.  We came across a water cache on the way, bathed appropriately in beams of light.  Scarecrow had signed the log just yesterday.  I may catch back up with him in a few days if I hurried.
Camped now in the most perfect looking, picturesque spot I've ever seen.  It's seriously outdoor gear catalogue photo worthy.  Unfortunately the sun was going down fast and I'm no professional photographer.  Here's the best I could do.
Planning on breakfast in a cafe tomorrow.

Day 9

Steve, Single Malt (Steve's friend Todd) and I got up around 5:30 to pack up and head back to Warner Springs.  Kick Off goes on another day but Single Malt needs to get some hiking in before returning home next week.  I considered staying another day and trying to find a ride back on my own, there'd probably be a few folks willing to take me back.  But I decided to go back now.  Back to back "nero", day of only a little hiking,and "zero", day of no hiking, had me pretty well rested, feet recovered and blisters healed.

By the time we got back to Warner, repacked our stuff and were ready to go it was nearly 10:00.  I stopped around noon to make lunch and dry my tent.  It was cold at the lake the night before and condensation had soaked my tent.  I had moved it to the outside of my pack because it was dripping out the bottom of my pack as I hiked.  In the sun it dried pretty quick though.

There were only a few people on the trail today, one guy on a bike, though bikes aren't allowed on the PCT.  I heard from someone later he was asking for directions, had gotten too far in and it was getting dark.  The options today were pretty much keep going or go back the way you came.  The trail eventually crossed a dirt road, hope he made it somewhere.

We turned off the trail at the road and walked a quarter mile up to a trail angel's house, owned by a guy named Mike.  He has a big water tank and let's hikers camp in his field.  There's even a bunk house somewhere around here.  I'm in my tent and saw I had service.  I'm going to write more about kickoff later.  18 miles today, mile 127, feet are sore once more.  But I had mac and cheese with a ton of tuna for dinner, so I'll be ok.

Hiked through some decent trees while we were along the creek. Here's where I had lunch.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day 7

Thursday morning we slept in a little since it was still sprinkling some.  We had less than 5 miles to go until Warner Springs.  The trail went through more cow fields then into some trees and followed a stream.  While going through the fields the sun came out.  It was pretty beautiful, wish I hadn't burried my camera and phone so deep in my pack.

In Warner Springs we walked to the post office and I got the box I'd sent myself.  Then a guy gave us a ride a mile up the road to a community center.  Some volunteers have a PCT rest area set up in there.  There are a few computers, they cook pancakes and hamburgers and have a small store.  I didn't need to buy anything since I got my box, but I did have a burger.

We met Steve's friend Todd there.  They planned on driving back to the Kickoff weekend at Lake Morena back at mile 20.  They had offered me a ride and I decided to go, both to see what Kickoff was like and to get a day off hiking.  We'll be there Thursday afternoon through Saturday early morning.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 5 and 6

We got a bit of a late start after our long day on Monday.  After looking at the map and water sources we decided to try to get to the first water source, 9 miles, by late morning, eat quick, and press on to the next one, another 13.  Scarecrow and I reached the first at Scissors Crossing around 11 or so.  It was a tank covered with a tarp that someone who lives in the area keeps full.  Reliable natural water sources are pretty scarce.

I ate a few snacks near the cache while Scarecrow went looking for shade.  The next 13-mile leg to Third Gate took us up the side of a steep ridge.  The trail then follows the ridge northwest at a fairly steady elevation, it just weaves in and out of every ravine.  The whole area was pretty spectacular, like a giant cactus garden, a bit more interesting than the endless sagebrush.  The problem was we were climbing it at noon, decent cloud cover, but it was still hot.  I had 5 liters of water weighing me down too, since it was 13 miles to the next source and we thought we may have to stop for the night before reaching it.  It's also a wise idea to have some extra, since water caches are done voluntarily by trail angels.  We'd heard the cache at the Third Gate was well stocked though, at least 50 gallons.

We ended up stopping 4-5 miles short of Third Gate.  Steve and I caught up to Scarecrow, laying in a sandy creek bed that was too tempting for us to pass up.  Steve had planned on making it all the way and didn't really have enough water to stop for the night, but Scarecrow and I coaxed him with some of ours and got him to stay, so we made camp.

The wind was crazy that night.  It'd be totally calm for a while and out of nowhere it'd be gusting 30+ mph.  I'd staked my tent in sand so right about when I was falling asleep, the wind pulled up a stake and my tent collapsed.  I fixed it and put a rock on the stake.  Should have found more rocks because I had to get up two more times that night to fix the others.

The next morning we reached the Third Gate water cache.  There were about 100 gallon jugs all piled under some low bushes, about half were still full.  I don't know how far it is from a road but someone puts in a lot of work to get it in there.  A few people we'd met the day before were there getting water too.

It was about 10 miles past that to the next water, Barrel Spring.  I ended up jogging about the last 5-6 miles of it since it was a fairly gradual downhill.  I passed mile 100!  Near the spring the sagebrush went away and was replaced by grass and trees.  It seemed like a fairly sudden transition.  The spring comes out up a hill a couple hundred yards where it flows into a pipe.  The pipe goes down to a shaded, grassy area where 10 or so people had camped.  Scarecrow went to try to hitch a ride into town.  I made lunch and waited for Steve.

Steve is planning to meet a friend in the next town, Warner Springs, at mile 109.  We decided to go a bit beyond Barrel Spring and hike to Warner in the morning.  Most of the next 3-4 miles was through a series of huge rolling meadows.  We caught up to Scarecrow camped near a creek.  While we were setting up a dozen or so cows came over to investigate.  They had Steve surrounded until he finally chased them off with his sleeping pad.

Clouds had been rolling in all day and it started raining a bit after dark.  It rained off and on much of the night.  I didn't get wet though.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Day 4

Got up early from the lodge and started hiking before dawn. Water sources and camping are sparse here so we planned a 26 mile day. Much of the morning was gradual downhill and we cruised through the first 16 fairly quickly. We stopped near a well on a ridge but I didn't stay long, it was windy and fairly cool. I hiked down the trail a half mile and had lunch.
We saw a rattlesnake in the trail. It completely ignored us.
As we left the water/lunch stop, fog from the coast came rolling toward us. We stayed out of it, it just rolled over the top of the ridge and dissapated.
We finished the long day, over 27 miles with the little side trips to water and from the lodge to the trail. Planning to take it easy the next few days, just 15 or so per day.... There are 10 or so of us camped here, we've been seeing each other throughout the last couple days. Feet are pretty sore right now. It's tough to stand up after sitting down for a min or more.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day 2 and 3

Currently Sunday afternoon, living the rough life, we reached the town of Mt Laguna a few hours ago. Scarecrow already had a reservation at the lodge here so he and Steve planned on staying the night. Upgrading to a 3-person stay was cheap so I decided to stay as well rather than press on a few more miles to a campground. So I'm laying on a soft bed after a burger and fries at the restaurant.

Saturday morning we got up around 5:30 and started out for Lake Morena. It was about 4.5 miles from where we camped. There were quite a few people camped there and a few hikers getting a late start or taking a break. We hung out there for about an hour. I got to wash my feet. My shoes have great ventilation but that means they let in a lot of dirt.
Based on the heat the previous day we planned on an extended midday break. We pushed out from the lake and made for an old closed campground. On the way we crossed a stream under a bridge that was too wide to jump. We took our shoes off and stayed there for 20 min or so. Cold water on the tired feet feels amazing. At our afternoon stop we found a table in the shade, had lunch and relaxed. Archie had stopped at the stream so it's just 3 of us now.
We set out at around 3:00 and quickly came to a long uphill portion with no shade at all. Our goal was a campground at mile 33. Hot the whole way. You can already see salt from sweat forming on my pack's straps, my shirt was even worse.
We got a decent site with water right by it. Loud campers couldn't keep me awake for too long.

Today we just hiked 10 miles in the morning into Mt Laguna. We made it out of the desert for the last few miles and had some nice trees for shade. Legs are kinda sore and we're up to 6k feet, so I'm glad for the half day today. And the hamburger. The restaurant is only open on weekends so we lucked out.
43 miles in. A lot to go.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 1

Day 1 of the hike! After a short delay getting to San Diego I got a hotel, bought some fuel for my stove and had a big dinner. The next morning I walked to a transit station where I could catch the bus to Campo. There were 5 other hikers there for the bus too. After about 2 hours on the bus we got off and hiked 1.5 miles to the start of the trail. I hung out at the trail's start for a little while with a couple other hikers.
After signing the trail roster we headed out. It was about 11:00 by then, clear, sunny and mid-80's. The trail goes back into Campo, where we stocked up on water. Two of the guys we rode in with were trying to mail a package at the post office and were only just heading to the trailhead. The two guys I started out with are Steve and Scarecrow. Archie was out in front a ways and we caught up later that afternoon. We went about 16 miles and camped at Hauser Creek. There were probably 8-10 other people camping there that night as well.
After a quick setup we had dinner and went to bed. A few boarder patrol vehicles drove past. They had been looking for an illegal immigrant who had fallen and broken his leg. So we're not the craziest people out here, this will be tough enough with proper gear.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Out the door soon!

Just a few days until I leave for San Diego and the start of the trail.  I've got some food to buy, boxes to pack and loose ends to tie up, but I'm real close.  I think I've worked out a solution I can use to post photos on here the way I want them using my phone.  The official Blogger app I use on my phone severely limits the size of the pictures and the way they are arranged.  Once I'm on the trail I'll know for sure if what I'm doing will work or not.

After all this planning I think the hiking is going to be the easy part.

Friday, April 13, 2012

In the snow.

Hiking with Jon and Laura on Mary's Peak.