Pacific Crest Trail Hike
April 15th Through June 19, 2004
Left home in the van about 6:30 AM for Fort Collins. Uneventful except for some rain, hail, and lightning in Nebraska. Arrived Ft. Collins around 7 PM. Andy made seafood tacos and spinach salad with strawberries. Great.
Mailed a food package, did a little shopping. Went to JeJu’s – a sushi place. Really good. Had odd ice cream desserts.
Nat drove us to the Denver airport. No problems. Got off the plane at LAX and walked down a couple of gates to ask where we’d find American Eagle. (to get us to San Diego). The lady said “wait here, a shuttle will pick you up”. We got on the shuttle and got to ride on the tarmac; almost got run over by a plane but we wound up at the correct gate. Boarded the noisiest plane ever, landed at the San Diego Commuter Terminal – without our luggage (backpacks). They said it would come on the next flight – it did. After getting our tiny Daewoo car we drove to the Holiday Inn.
Drove to Campo to check out the route to get to the start of the trail and see what it was like. Only got really lost once but we were only a couple miles off where we should have been. Getting to Campo is not easy. Windy roads, big trucks, it’s slow going.
Doug and Elaine dropped us off at Campo about 11 AM. They hiked about a half a mile with us. It was extremely tiring. The route was a lot of up and down, although not great distances. It was actually a little tricky to find the trail at times.
The place where we decided to stop had no flat area or place to stay. But John walked back into the brush so we were completely off the trail. He found a wonderful spot for our tent. We wanted to be off the trail because we were still so close to the border and we didn’t want to run into any illegal aliens.
My foot (the one I had sprained a couple weeks ago) was fine and no blisters!!!
Miles for the day: 8.94 Total miles: 8.94
We woke up on our own at 6:30 and got up and started hiking at 8:30. This was to be the 10-ish mile day and from the write-up in the guidebook, the hardest part of the whole trail because of a steep uphill after Hauser Creek. Before we got to that part we were doing OK. Some of the scenery is gorgeous. Yesterday we got to about 3000 feet. Today we got to about 3495 feet.
Before we got to Hauser Creek the PCT took us onto a jeep road. At the bottom of the jeep road we ran into a Border Patrol guy, plus there were two others just a little ways away. They had heard there were some illegals around and were checking to sure that we weren’t them.
We have seen so many beautiful flowers, and also beautiful rocks. We’ve seen lizards, squirrels, turkey vultures, humming birds, plus I’m sure I heard some coyotes. We saw some brilliantly red fuzzy spiders about ½ to ¾ inch long. And some toad that looks like a lizard.
After talking to the Border Patrol people we went on a horrendous down trail. At the bottom we started up on the “hardest part of the trail”. And it was. The first ¾ mile up wasn’t bad but all in all by the time we got to our destination – Lake Moreno County Park – I was dead. Well mostly my feet hurt. I had blisters on each foot, my sprain was sore, my claves hurt, the front, back and side of my thigh hurt. I just hurt. John’s feet hurt too – the bottom of his feet. He doesn’t complain nearly as much as I do. As we went uphill it wasn’t too bad, but then just the slightest down and my calves started screaming. If I turned my foot a certain way so that my calves didn’t hurt as much, then the outside of my thighs started hurting.
Just a short way before our destination (Moreno Campground) we sat on a rock to rest and met our first PCT hiker – Edmund; his computer name was Tangent. A very nice guy, an ultra light hiker. His pack alone weighed 13 oz., his 30 degree sleeping bag weighed under 2 pounds. He hikes many miles a day – 20ish. He basically flies along.
We got to the campground, dropped our packs and John went to register and got us a hiker site for $2.00!! Right before we were ready for bed another PCT hiker came over to share our site. Robert, a Chief in the Coast Guard; to retire in August when he’ll go to Oregon to go to school. Robert hiked all the way from Campo. He just does the trail on weekends and he pushed hard to get to Lake Moreno. He had blisters and leg pains too. But since Lake Moreno was his goal he thought he might not hike any more for the weekend.
Miles for the day: 11.2 Total miles: 20.14
Saturday morning dawned and we saw the sun and blue sky for 5 minutes. Then it looked overcast and we heard we might get rain. Too bad because at the other end of the campground a Mexican family was setting up chairs and getting ready for a wedding.
We planned on a short day – about 6 miles and we were eating breakfast when Don showed up. He was another PCT hiker, who had a regular campsite because he would be staying for the kickoff on Thurs. He had hiked past the burn (not sure where that is) and had gotten a terrible cold and hitchhiked back to recuperate. Also a veteran PCT hiker, but he carried about a 24 pound pack as compared to Tangent who carried about 12 pounds. He had a cool looking alcohol stove that he made from a pepsi can.
I forgot to mention when we got up this morning, I looked over and there was Robert sleeping on a tarp in his (apparently) heavy-duty sleeping bag, with his bald head sticking out. It was cold last night.
We took off through some really neat scenery and wound slowly up; then more sharply up and then as we looked around the weather looked like it could turn nasty. We were headed down now on some tough rocks and we went as quickly as we could (screaming calves, hurting blisters). John’s map showed that we would be going under a big highway bridge and we planned to eat lunch there. We did and as we were eating it started to rain. I have to back up. Shortly before the bridge we came upon 2 male adult backpackers and 2 kid backpackers. They were sitting on a big rock having lunch.
We ate our lunch and didn’t want to hike in the rain so we put on some warm clothes and sat on my foam cell pad, leaning against the cement wall of the bridge. We were almost asleep when we heard someone walking by – it was Robert. He had called his wife and she was going to pick him up a couple miles down the road. So he sat down with us to see if the rain would let up. Then 3 of the 4 hikers that we saw eating on the rock came (and stood) under the bridge. The other adult went to get the car. They were supposed to go to Lake Moreno but decided against it.
As the rain slowed, Robert, John and I left, Robert ahead of us. We were going to Boulder Campground. Of course it started raining more and we put our garbage bags over our packs. I had on my rain pants and jacket and wasn’t cold.
We walked through a large area that looked like prairie; lots of grass and some trees. The exciting part was when we got to a stream and there was a flat board across the stream. I didn’t fall in. When we got to the campground there was a sign that said it was closed because of that toad that looked like a lizard, that we had seen earlier on the trail. We used the bathrooms, took on water and set off up the mountain again. We got to about 3500 feet; we were walking right on the edge and so there was no place to camp. After a mile or so, John found a side trail and followed it a ways and found a perfect spot for us to camp. The rain hadn’t stopped, we were both getting cold and as we’re walking back to our “campsite” (John wearing his bright red rain jacket, mine bright yellow), this small, super noisy plane went right over the top of us. We were sure it was the Border Patrol. They circled around and come back. Luckily they must have figured that we were PCT hikers and they didn’t come back.
The rain let up for 2 minutes and we set that tent up so fast I can’t believe it and threw everything in there we needed (pads, sleeping bags and clothes bags). Then we ate dinner in the rain. John organized things outside and I got in the tent, took off my wet rain stuff and boots and put it on the floor in the vestibule, and took off my slightly wet clothes and then put on every dry piece of clothing in my clothes bag including heavy socks and mittens and a balaclava. I got in my sleeping bag and John came in and put his warm dry clothes on. It probably took about 2 hours before our hands warmed up. It was really cold sleeping that night, but our tent kept us dry.
Miles for the day: 7.2 Total miles: 27.34
We woke up and didn’t see any sun, but I looked out and it was just coming up over the mountain! So we got up and just stood in it – it was so warm. We hung up all our wet stuff and everything dried. We ate breakfast, got packed and left about 10:30 AM. We hiked in mostly mountainous type terrain; some really tricky footing on the little rocks and some bigger rocks. We walked through some grassy areas, and lots of trees. Saw more humming birds, loads of gorgeous flowers. And we saw spectacular views. We got as high as 4400 feet. My blisters are better, calves still hurt and John’s feet still hurt.
Today we were going to stay at Cibbitz campground. It was .8 mile off trail down a jeep road. It was soooo hard going down. But we got there and found a site, filled up on water and John went to register. It cost $10 to camp or just for day use. So we left. We started going back up the jeep road when this truck came up the road. The very nice people gave us a ride to the top of the hill. His name was Ray (and his wife, son and girlfriend). They are campers and hikers and outdoors people. We were so glad we didn’t have to walk up that hill.
Miles for the day: 6.8 Total miles: 34.14
Highest elevation for the day: 4400 feet
A cold night although I stayed much warmer than the night it rained. I got up once to go to the bathroom and it didn’t seem really cold but there was the start of ice on the outside of the tent from condensation.
We woke up just as the sun started to hit the tent. Good thing because as the ice turned to water it just dripped right into the tent so we had to scramble and get everything out. It was a sunny but very chilly morning. We thought that since we had to climb for 3 miles that we would warm up. But no – the wind was so cold and we were in the shade a lot.
My calves were much better today, but my foot hurt on and off. We saw such gorgeous flowers. Reds, orange, white, blue, purple, on bushes, trees, plants and cacti. The Yucca is so incredible. You can see them almost miles away. John called them the Guardians of the mountain. There are the green spikey leaves that grow upward on the yucca and are really sharp on the tips of each leaf. Then the stalk grows up and out of the leaves 3 to 5 feet high. The top foot or so has beautiful white flowers clustered all around and the tips of the flowers are shaded purple. There are also these blue flowered bushes. When the flowers drop the ground is covered with blue fairy dust.
We saw another brilliant red spider today, a really furry looking mouse, some blue jays and 2 single hikers and 1 couple.
We walked thorough a mountainous type setting today. Up those loose stones on the trail; they are so hard to walk on. We saw beautiful rocks. We got all the way to 6000 ft. today and yes! We saw remnants of snow. The views were breathtaking; to look back and see mountain ranges in the distance, each further one higher and higher.
After looking in the book it said that the campsite we planned to stay at might not have the water turned on. So there was a beautiful babbling brook before the site and John filtered about 2 qts of water. But we lucked out. There was water at the campground. We’re at Burnt Ranchera. Tomorrow it’s a mile plus to Laguna where we will resupply. We have too much food. We eat all the breakfast and dinner food, but the snack/lunch stuff is too much.
As we were walking today we got to a pine forest. We could have been walking in Minnesota. It was so neat. You could hear the wind through the pines and smell the pines.
Miles for the day: 8.7 Total miles: 42.84
Highest elevation for the day: 6000 feet
I found it to be exceptionally cold last night. When we stopped at our next campground further on, the guy said it got down to 28 this last night. We got up and hiked a short distance to the Laguna Store/Post Office and picked up our resupply stuff. We met Robert – the guy from England whom we had met at Long Creek. And I found out from him that the girl that passed us the previous day was from New Zealand.
Got back on the road to return to the trail and starting to hitchhike – looking for a ride to Julian. No luck at the Laguna Store or walking with a “To Julian” sign. Right before we got to the trail we ran into a couple of hikers – Kent and Cathy. It’s their 2nd time on the PCT. They were just married last August and will be on the trail for their anniversary. They only carry 13pounds and 14 pounds respectively plus water (Kent normally only carries a quart) plus their food. They buy quite a bit of their food.
On the trail we saw more incredible flowers, rocks, scenery. For lunch John found a perfect spot out on a bunch of rocks that looked down 4000 ft to the desert. You could look off in the distance and see mountain. range after mountain range the highest one having snow at the very tip.
Our camping spot was Laguna Campground ($14!!), but they did have water, picnic tables and pit toilets – the shower wasn’t on because it could still get down to freezing. Before we got to our site, we stood out on the highway with our “To Julian” sign – for about 2-3 hours. No luck. So we got to our site and spent some time with Kent and Cathy that we had just met previously. It was a very windy night, although not as cold.
Miles for the day: 7.2 Total miles: 50.0
We started on the highway with our sign out and barely got started when a car, going in the opposite direction (John shows our sign to people going in each direction) smiled, waved and turned around and picked us up! She was camping at Burnt Ranchera and like the sag wagon for her daughter and son in law who are doing the PCT. Her name is Jan Osborne and she lives in Colorado Springs and will be here a week, go back to Colorado and then come out for the month of June (or July?) and meet them at various odd places. How nice of her to pick us up.
Here at Julian we are staying at a sort of B + B. A guy’s house with 3 separate rooms and entrances. Our room has wooden ceilings, it’s an older place and quite beautiful. We step out of our room into a huge patio with a pool, chairs here and there and looking out onto the lower part of the mountains – all trees. He has some fabulous rose bushes and various odd lovely flowers.
Jan (the lady that picked us up) dropped us off at the visitor center and they had bathrooms that cost 25 cents. But the people at the visitor center did tell us about free internet at the bank (we used it) the post office (used that too) and they told us about another lady by the name of Jan, who lives in Julian, who would take us to Scissors Crossing (instead of us waiting til 5 PM to take the bus to Scissors Crossing). Jan (the one who lives in Julian) will meet us at 8 AM tomorrow to take us to Scissors Crossing.
Miles for the day: 0.7 Total miles: 50.7
We walked to the place in Julian where Jan worked. She would drive us from there to Scissors Crossing so we could get back on the trail. She was a lovely lady in her 60’s, I think. Jan’s boyfriend is 95 years old and was hiking with the best of them until he was about 85 years old. She was telling us that he had been in an accident where every rib was broken. It took him 10 months to heal and then he and Jan walled down into the Grand Canyon. When they got down there he wasn’t sure if he would be able to climb back out. He found out that a mule would cost a huge amount, a helicopter even more at $1200, so he hiked out on his own. He still goes out hiking with a 3 wheel walker.
We started hiking at about 2400 feet and got as high as 3360. The trail was not steep trail but it went on forever. A million switchbacks. It was very windy but as we went from 1 mountain range to the next we were in and out of the wind. Sunny and hot, the wind helped to keep us cool.
John had a full load of water – 2 containers plus a quart (232oz). I had about 2 containers (200 ounces). Even before we were done for the day I was so tired plus I had the start of another blister, but I put a bandaid on it. John has been taking his socks off every couple hours and airing and drying his socks and his feet in the sun, and with good results.
We have seen such incredible flowers today. The barrel cacti have a light green flower, the prickly pear and beaver tail has bright red flowers, the ocotillo has reddish orange flowers. The cholla cacti have yellow flowers. There are also bushes with yellow flowers and white flowers. Then there are these tiny ground flowers that are white, some are burgundy, some yellow. And then an aloe looking plant that shoots up a stalk about 6-8 feet high that looks like a huge spear of asparagus. When it opens it has yellow flowers on it.
About 4 1/2 miles in, we saw on the trail what we thought was a single trekking pole. It turned out to be a 5 iron (golf club).
Met a guy today from Memphis- David, trail name Pine Needle.
We saw a snake today. We walked past it on the trail and then John saw it. It was about 2 feet long, thumb size diameter and pink and brown.
Miles for the day: 9.3 Total miles: 60
Highest elevation for the day: 3600 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 2400 feet
We were actually on the trail today at 8:05 AM. We hadn’t walked too far when I heard a noise; I thought it was a rattling, but later on we thought it was a hissing. I heard the noise and stopped. We both listened and when we heard it again, we quickly backed up. When we got about 3-4 feet back the hissing stopped. We just stood there. Then John bent down and got some small rocks and tossed them into the cholla where the noise came from. Then he tossed some more rocks in that area and nothing happened. He took my trekking pole and poked around and nothing happened. We walked by quickly.
We saw a lot of lizards today. Also a new cactus – a tall bush with big white flowers with a yellow center. We also saw what looked like a puffball mushroom.
We are still in the hot arid San Felipe mountains. We got up to 4200 feet today. We went by a huge cache of water and took some. John found us a wonderful campsite way on top of a ridge. It’s fairly windy and with the tent up with the fly partially covering it, it’s not too hot as the breeze blows through. The weather was perfect for sleeping. Instead of wearing every single thing we owned, we got by with 1 lifa top. It was great.
Miles for the day: 7.3 Total miles: 67.3
Highest elevation for the day: 4200 feet
We got up and were on the trail by 7:56! A record! We got as high as 4400 feet today. There wasn’t much up and down. We saw a Baltimore oriole and a quail on the trail. We met a guy by the name of Joe – he’s from Huntington Beach and he is traveling up to Tuolume Meadows. We also saw a neat cave – like a one person cave; it was about 10 feet off the trail.
We went through a burn area (from 2 years ago) and the flowers are mainly what came up. Incredible fields of white and purple and some yellows poking up. Just solid flowers everywhere. So fantastic.
Near the end of our hike we met Kent and Cathy again. As we got to the end of the day, which was Barrow Springs, we saw Kent and Cathy and Joe. Joe will be leaving around 3 PM to head about 6 more miles down the trail.
The people we met at Barrow Springs were:
Gil, an older guy (67) from Victoria Canada. He’s been hiking for 4 weeks.
Cisily, (57 I think) from the Detroit area. She plans to go to the end of the trail. She hiked the Appalachian Trail before. She’s also canoed in the Boundary Waters.
We met Derek, Alex and Mike (the DAMnation boys) they all just graduated from college from Bellingham WA.
Mark and Penny, who are the daughter and son in law of Jan (the lady who picked us up)
Damien – he said we’re the first people he’s seen, not counting 5 illegal aliens.
Bill from Indiana.
Miles for the day: 7.3 Total miles: 74.6
Highest elevation for the day: 4400 feet
It was freezing in our wash/site so we got up at 6:30 AM and didn’t take off till 8:30 AM. Started with our usual chapparel scenery and met Dennis the jogger. He lives in the Southern California area and knows the PCT (south) very well. Last weekend he ran a 50 miler in 9 hours and he set a record for his age group (over 60). There were about 150 participants. His wife was the director and he was the one who shot off the gun for the start of the race.
Shortly after talking to Dennis we came upon a flat grassy prairie and it was windy. In fact we probably crossed about 4 of those prairies for maybe 4 miles. We had some little mountains to cross in between; but it was so neat on these prairies. We saw some poppies (bright orange) growing in the grass.
We stopped for lunch in a grassy area and Scott Williamson came by – a PCT hiker (about his 6th time). He was wearing running shorts and shoes and socks and a hat. He said his calves were blistering from the sun, but he wanted to get his whole body tan. One time he had started at the Mexican border, went to the end in Canada and started back for Mexico. He got as far as either 400 or 800 miles to Mexico. We told him we were from Mpls and he said he missed the cold weather since he now lives in Santa Cruz. He said he lived in Maine once in a backwoods cabin and he went to bed one night without checking his wood burning stove. During the night it stopped; he woke up and it was 5 degrees inside.
After he left we noticed that there were a million little red ticks everywhere. So we moved and we are now very aware of red ticks.
We found a site about 1and ½ miles before Warner Springs. John walked in to get some fuel and I checked out the area for ticks. It seemed that the more in the shade we were, the more teeny tiny red ticks came out. They preferred cool, dark, damp places so the tent got set up in the blazing sun.
On our walk today there was a sign that said “go over behind these rocks and see the eagle rock” So we did and it was neat – a rock that looked just like an eagle. We also saw 2 ladies on horseback. The one lady said that some of her group were getting ready to take their horses and travel up to the Canadian border on the PCT. She said they would be taking mules too.
When John was walking to town for fuel, Jan saw him. She was going in the opposite direction, stopped and turned around and picked him up and gave him a ride to town.
Miles for the day: 7.9 Total miles: 82.5
We walked a short distance to our destination for the day. At about 9 AM we arrived at the lodge and they had a room ready for us. It was like a rustic cabin. Kent and Cathy are here for an extra day. We saw Gil and we saw one of the DAMnation boys. We took a shower, John got our box from the Post Office. We stopped at room 37 and got Kent and Cathy and went to the grill for lunch. After we were there a while, Bill, from Indiana joined us.
We sent a small box back to Nat and are now sitting at the hot springs. The water is 105 degrees. It’s in a huge pool, you can swim in it if you choose or you can swim in the other huge pool that had regular water in it.
This place has a huge lodge with a TV, small library, resting area, phones, internet use, a cantina and a restaurant. There are also about 12 tennis courts, paddle ball court, golf course, and volleyball courts. Rooms cost $120 but PCT hikers get them for $50.
Miles for the day: 2.1 Total miles: 84.6
We had dinner with Bill and Kent and Cathy last night. We got email addresses and then left this morning at 7:45. We saw a coyote today as we were walking through a camping area. We also saw a rattlesnake. I was walking ahead and saw it smack in the middle of the trail. I stopped and then he must have noticed us because he started to rattle. So we backed up about 6 feet until he quit rattling. Then he got reorganized and just laid down where he was before- in the middle of the trail. John rolled some small rocks its way but the snake just ignored it. Then he threw some sandy-dirt at it and hit it and the snake started rattling again, but he got off the trail. John poked around where he went into the bushes with my trekking pole, but nothing happened. So we quickly passed.
We hiked by and over Agua Calient Creek about 5 times. We didn’t take any water because there would be water at Lost Valley Spring. We did some horrendous up. It was tough. I think we went to about 4200 feet. We found the place to get off the trail to find water - around 1 PM. But we never found it. John hiked a couple hours as per the book’s directions and never found any. Then he tried with the waypoint of the GPS and never found any water.
He finally took off about 4 PM to hike back about 3 miles to Agua Caliente Creek to get water. He emptied his pack and left and I moved all of our stuff up the trail to our campsite for the night. John got back about 6:30 PM with lots of water; we ate and went to bed. John did see a little rattlesnake on his hike to get water.
Miles for the day: 19.2 total miles: 103.8
Highest elevation for the day: 4200 feet
We got up and headed up the trail but right before we left Larry and Leann came by. They are day hikers who each have a car. The park one at point A, one at point B and then hike from A to B (or vice versa, whichever way is easiest. Then they camp for the night in the truck.
At the top of the road/trail we turned left, walked 1.1 mile (like Yogi’s book said) and there was a sign for Lost Valley Spring. Our PCT guidebook, whose directions we were following, was really screwed up. John went down and got more water.
We eventually got up to 5600 feet. On the way we turned into an area that was burned. Perhaps for a total of 5 or 6 miles. Burned. Nothing there. A few flowers coming up and some grass. Everything was charred. Even some of the rocks were burned.
It started to get windy. WINDY!!! Like it was hard to walk in place. One time it almost blew me off the trail. And we were going up.
We ran into Richard today (a guy from England) and into a guy named Lindy. Lindy is an older guy from Fridley, MN who does big miles each day and is hoping to do a yo-yo, that is make it up to Canada and then back down to Mexico.
We passed a water cache and the wind was so incredible you could hardly pour the water from the bottles. I was so tired when we got to our stopping spot and the wind kept blowing. We put our mats down on the ground and covered our faces as the dust and ash and sand pelted us. Surely it would stop. It didn’t. We saw many dust devils at the top of our mountain. Some looked like actual tornadoes. We set up the tent when it was quiet for a moment, threw everything into it, go in and the wind picked up again. At times the tent collapsed right down onto us. Dust, sand, dirt, ash came into the tent like there was no barrier. I got up at 10:30 PM to go to the bathroom and it was still windy and cold.
Miles for the day: 10.7 Total miles: 114.5
Highest elevation for the day: 5600 feet
The alarm rang at 6:30 AM, it was still windy, there was some fog and it was freezing. We dressed for winter and headed off without breakfast. It was a nicer day today. Once we warmed up, we ran into Larry and Leeann again. We stopped at Thule Spring and cleaned the tent and the fly and our socks. Then Bobby Comptom (trail name llama) came by and then Raru and Sisu. They are all going on another 5 miles tonight.
Miles for the day: 8.2 Total miles: 122.7
We got up and were ready to leave when we noticed some people filtering water – Grease Pot (female) and Garlic Man (male), both veteran hikers. They hiked 26 miles miles yesterday. She was wearing a skirt, ankle length that you could tie it up so it was about knee length. Then Yipee came along. His wife, Yapee was hiking in Idaho with their chocolate lab. Yipee would be flying back to Fairbanks in a couple weeks.
This was really a neat scenery day. The trail was more open and you could see stuff. Sometimes the brush, the grass, the trees are so close to the trail that you can’t see anything. Today it opened up, it was a nice change. We climbed a lot. We went through some rocky/boulder areas that was really cool.
We saw some new flowers. Larry and Leann passed us going south. We met a guy named Carl. Many more people passed us this day.
We stopped at the water cache supplied by the Anza Trail Angels. It was a very nice set-up.
I have to make a note about how dirty you can get and how filthy your clothes get.
There was a single crow on a very large boulder that scolded us today as we were hiking toward it. He started quite a ways before we got to him and then continued scolding as we past him.
By now it was 6.5 miles and I just got so tired and hot. At 8.3 miles John found a neat wash and we went back a ways into the wash. He hung a tarp there and there was an occasional breeze so we laid on our mats and rested until it cooled off enough to go to bed.
John pulled his back a little yesterday, but it seems to be OK.
Miles for the day: 8.3 Total miles: 131
When we got up today and as the morning slowly progressed, there was a huge influx of these big mosquito-like bugs. They were around last night too. Very gentle bugs, almost awkward, pretty dumb – they liked to jump into the hot cooking food. John opened the lid to stir the food and suddenly 1, 2, 3 jumped in. It was like he could hardly throw their dead bodies out before more jumped in. However in the morning when it started to warm up, they came down into the ravine we were in by the droves. They’re not even bothersome, they’re just floating and flying around. It’s an awesome sight to see them everywhere around us; just floating.
We climbed maybe 500 to 700 feet today. It’s hard to describe the scenery because I don’t know what a lot of it is. Plus it changes so rapidly as we go from switchback to switchback, down into ravines, through valleys, up steep hillsides (one mis-step and you’d go over the edge). You walk through dirt, sand, red sand, gray sand, rotten granite, really loose sand, harder packed sand, more dirt, sand with small rocks everywhere, which makes for really tough footing. Sometimes you walk on big rocks. Sometimes there are lots of boulders, and then there are cacti scattered here and there – still blooming. Some shrubs that look like holly – very sharp leaves, grow right into the small path that we walk on and you have to plough right through them. Sometimes there are huge yuccas – the tips of which are like a needle. You only have to run into them once to remember.
But the whole point is that there is so much to see, not even counting the magnificent view. When you get up on the ridgeline you are frequently treated to wind, to cool you off. We see lots of hummingbirds, lizards and horny toads. I think we heard coyotes last night.
The evenings/nights are cool, maybe in the 50’s; very nice for sleeping. The sun comes up around 6 AM and depending where you are in relation to the mountains and ridges, you’ll get sun between 6 to 8 AM. It’s still possible to walk in shade sometimes but usually it’s just getting hot. The other day and most days I think, it’s in the 80’s. That’s way hot enough for me. I usually wear long pants (lightweight). Many people wear shorts. I have on a sleeveless lightweight shirt and a lightweight long sleeve shirt to keep the sun off of me. Many people do the same. John wears only his long sleeve light weight shirt. And 99% of the people wear hats with big brims, many having the kind where a brim or cloth or something keeps the sun off your neck and ears.
By maybe 4 or 5 PM the shadows are starting to be seen from the trees and rocks and when the sun sets at 7:30 or 8, or is hidden behind a mountain, it gets very cool very quickly.
The moon should be full on Monday or Tuesday and it is so bright now that I think a fair number of people hike in the moonlight.
Right now we are sitting in some shade from the tarp that John put up. We’re very near highway 78 and 1 mile from the Paradise Café where we will pick up our resupply box and get a Jose Burger (as recommended in Yogi’s book).
There were probably 10 people that passed us today, and all within 15 minutes. Two of then were an older lady (from Germany) and a guy (from Iowa). They both canoed the Mississippi from Itasca to Mpls.
We went into the Paradise Café and had dinner and got our resupply box and threw half of it away. Except there were 2 hikers there who said they would take it to Anza. They stopped at Hiker’s haven and the nice people drove them to the restaurant and will pick them up. The hikers’ names were Jessica (Buttercup) and Danny (Highlander), both from Connecticut.
Miles for the day: 8.7 Total miles: 139.7
We started at 8:30, it was chilly in our area. After a short while Cadence passed us – a woman from Ontario. We leapfrogged a little with her as she took a break.
We went through some fabulous areas today. Tons of boulders everywhere. And there were lots of pines, smelling wonderfully (like pine). We had lunch at this place where a huge rock was leaning up against a big rock and it formed a partial cave. There was a lot of shade and it was windy. While we were there Buttercup and Highlander passed us.
We had some for-real “ups” today; from 4919 to 5950. Then to get down to our spring for water, Live Oak Spring, we had to walk a mile off trail and down to 5500 feet. The place was beautiful though. The water came through a pipe into a large round container. We did some wash and filtered some water.
A couple of guys showed up for some water. One is named Wayne. His website is waynesue.com He and his wife have done a lot of adventure stuff. He lives in WA right near the Cascades on a lake that is 1 mile wide and 55 miles long. He will be leading a 1 week sea kayak trip on that lake. He has also row boated down some long river in Canada down to the US near the mainland. He said the whales sometimes got very close. He mentioned the Bahran (Bowran?) Circuit, a circuit of lakes to canoe in Canada.
I felt pretty good today, but maybe not tomorrow after climbing out a mile.
Around 7 PM one other guy came in; we camped here at the area of the spring. Around 7:30 about 12 people showed up.
Miles for the day: 7.7 Total miles: 147.4
Highest elevation for the day: 5950 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 4919 feet
Nat’s birthday is today.
We stayed in our tent until everyone left. It was a very tough climb out from the spring plus we climbed another 700 feet. We got as high as 6800 feet.
We saw beautiful views of Palm Springs and the Salton Sea to the East. We were on the Desert Divide. While we were up there we called Nat to wish her a happy birthday.
We turned off for Cedar Springs and had to go down another 450 feet in a mile. At this Spring the water just trickled out, but it was good tasting. We always filter.
We met Mike from Orange County and Amy from Santa Rosa. We passed them while they were resting and they passed us while we were lunching. Also during lunch Keith from Southern Calif. Passed us and Radar from Connecticut went by. Keith’s first week out was good, but he’s had blisters the 2nd week. The 2 of them were going down to get water and so as they were coming back to the trail, we passed them again.
We usually stop fairly early in the day to camp; by mid afternoon. So we are alone here right now at our campsite as I write this. We are expecting many people to show up later as most of them hike many more miles than we do. We’ll see how many show up.
Miles for the day: 6.3 (grueling miles) Total miles: 153.7
Highest elevation for the day: 6800 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 6359 feet
Yes, many people came to camp last night. Generally right around 7 PM everyone shows up. There were about 9 altogether. And this is how our day went: We started at 6359 feet. We climbed to 7200 feet. We descended to 5900 feet. Then we climbed steeply (the guidebook said steeply and they weren’t kidding) to 7400 feet. That was all in about 7 miles. We’re at about 6900 feet now at our campsite.
Today we met Munch from Shaumburg IL, Easy from NY and Dave. We also met Manzanita from Portland OR and probably 4-6 people also passed us and are nameless.
When we got to the top of Apache Mountain (7400 feet), it was just a big wide open area with manzanitas growing. It was very windy and the scenery really cool. Then we walked down and were walking on the very edge of the cliff. It makes me nervous; the book said “like a sheer stone cliff” and they were right again. It was also really neat. We went through areas of huge evergreens; massive evergreens that look like redwoods but aren’t. I think they’re cedar and also coulter pines. The coulters have huge pinecones with really sharp edges on them. If one ever fell out of a tree and hit you, it would probably knock you out as they are very heavy.
Miles for the day: 9.1 Total miles: 162.8
Highest elevation for the day: 7400 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 5900 feet
Today we climbed to 8400 feet. We saw snow. We even had to walk through small areas of snow. The climb today wasn’t as steep as yesterday, but I was tired today. The scenery is getting to be awesome. Lots of rock, pine trees and fairly open areas (as opposed to walking on the trail and having the bushes immediately on either side of you and not being able to see anything but bushes).
John found a perfect spot for our campsite. No one will see us as we’re quite a ways off the trail and there are trees and a ridge hiding us. We should be alone tonight, although last night 3 guys showed up about 8:30. We were hidden down in the oak trees and they were up near the trail and they never knew we were there. I got up and said hi to them in the morning and they were surprised that anyone was around.
We saw 2 people today. Puddin’ from Belleview WA and Rebecca (Strut) from GA. The 2 of them met in Colorado and are hiking together with a 3rd person. However, Puddin was about 15 minutes ahead of Strut and Strut was concerned that she might not be on the right trail. We told her that she was on the right trail.
We filtered water today from beautiful Tahquitz stream. It was so cold and clear.
After we got the tent set up, we took a half mile side trip to Tahquitz Peak. We had to walk through quite a bit of snow to get there. At the top (8800 ft) there was a small fire watch tower that was only about 1 story high, but it was set up on these huge rocks, so you could see everywhere.
We saw a hawk today. Tons of lizards and we still frequently see (or hear) hummingbirds. We have heard, but not seen, a bird in the early morning that sometimes awakens us and John calls him the cell phone bird. We were somewhere camping with other PCT’ers and one guy said “has anybody heard that cell phone bird?” No one knows what the bird is.
Miles for the day: 7.9 Total miles: 170.7
Highest elevation for the day: 8400 feet
When we got up it was freezing, the temp in the 40’s with a 30-40 mph wind and clouds hiding the sun. We hiked a short distance to Devil’s Slide, the place where we would start walking down to get into town. At that point John hid some water for us at the Saddle Junction so we wouldn’t have to carry a lot of water back up when we returned from town. Town was Idylwild and we went from 8400 ft to about 6400 ft, possibly even as low as 5600 ft in the town itself. We met our friend Bill, who was going back up. He had blisters and stayed a couple days and got some new boots. We met 3 Forest Service People who were hiking to the top of the mountain.
At the parking lot at the bottom of Devil’s Slide, we met JJ (a hiker) who told us that Patti was driving a blue SUV and that she gave hikers rides and tours. We kept walking and she saw us after we had walked a short distance. She gave us a tour of the town and a ride to our motel – the Tahquitz Inn. We had a bedroom, living room, bathroom and full kitchen for $50 a night. There is even a small fireplace. Most rooms have many hikers.
We walked through most of the town, did the laundry, went to the library, post office, grocery store, hardware store, liquor store, café and Forest Service place.
There was a get together for all of the hikers that was held at our motel. Chef (from Baltimore) cooked a ton of chicken and a huge piece of beef. Crow (a woman who actually was next door to us) made a huge salad, tabouli, brownies, ice cream , baked beans and potatoes.
Easy was here with his sister Peggy. Easy uses a hammock when he sleeps and he went to put his sleeping bag on his hammock. His hammock was right by a deep ravine and when he threw it up there he missed hitting his hammock and the sleeping bag slid all the way to the bottom of the ravine. He spent a cold night, wearing every single piece of clothing that he owned. He has also bought a new sleeping bag here in Idylwild. Manzanitas was here too, he’s a biologist, retired and he just moved to Portland. He had been living in Las Cruces NM near El Paso.
We met Bald Eagle who was talking about baseball facts half the night with Easy. We met Robert (a smoker) from Europe. Munch was there playing firsbee with a bunch of people. Meadow Mary was there with her 14 year old dog, Sam. She has many many adventures she spoke of. She is also a massage therapist. We met so many people I can’t remember their names.
Miles for the day: 4.65 Total miles: 175.35
Highest elevation for the day: 8400 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 5600 feet
We had a nice Friday and Saturday going to town, shopping, going to the library, resting. We went up to the pool on Sat. and I sat in the hot tub. We met Tapeworm from around Tahoe. He built a log cabin house (as per a pattern; log A here, log B, log C, bolt next, etc etc.) We found out that there was a hiker by the name of Robert, a couple days ago that had to be med-evac’d from the trail. Tapeworm said that he looked terrible; I guess the guy had a bad infection.
We left the motel before 7 AM, the owner drove us to the trailhead. We got to the top of Devil’s Slide by shortly after 8:30!!. We picked up our stashed water and by this time Tapeworm was at the top along with 6 other meandering hikers. It’s a busy place up there; also day hikers out and about.
John went off to hike the San Juacito Peak and I stayed down at the base; back on a bunch of neat rocks and just rested. On his way to the top he passed many day hikers. He went through some snow and at the top it was like a free for all. There was no specific trail and there were caroms all over the place. He signed the book although there was hardly any room left to do so. There was a little hut (emergency) on top with bunks in it, should anyone need it. However no camping was allowed on top.
John met a guy up there by the name of Greg, who had gone up and down San Jacinto many times. He said that on a clear day you could see the sun shine off the ocean. On the day that John went up it was quite foggy, smoggy, hazy and the ocean (and other things) couldn’t be seen. But nevertheless the view from the top of 10834 ft was spectacular.
Miles for the day: 10.6 Total miles: 185.95
Highest elevation for the day: 10834 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 5600 feet
Today was a very challenging day. As usual the wind howled all night, but we were in a good spot. As we took off we were in the wind but we moved in and out of wind all day long.
We saw incredible views today. Lots of rocks and boulders, tons of pine trees. We started at 9000 feet went down to 8200 feet, then went back up to 8800 feet. Right around that 8800 foot point we got to Fuller Ridge. That’s where the fun began. We walked the full length of the ridge – about 6 miles; that meant ups and downs. Some of the ups were practically vertical. Plus we wound up walking through small areas of snow fields which is so tricky to keep your footing. Once I even fell, but not snow. Because of the rotten granite, some large rocks that we were walking on was covered with that coarse sand and I couldn’t tell where the trail was. We were going downhill and my foot slipped on the rotten granite that was covering the boulders. It was OK. I mostly fell gently and then just on the palm of my left hand. The tricky part was trying to get up again, with the weight of that backpack on (about 35 pounds). It was harder than getting up with cross country skis on. John just sort of pulled me up from my backpack.
We got water from the San Jacinto River; but after we got the water we crossed the river 2 more times and each time there was more water flowing than the last time.
The last 2 miles of the day were fairly straightforward with little elevation change and we wound up at 7774 feet – where we camped for the night at the Fuller Ridge Campground – in the WIND! We can’t seem to get away from the wind.
Miles for the day: 10.2 Total miles: 196.15
Highest elevation for the day: 9000 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 7774 feet
If yesterday was challenging, today was easy. We started at 7774 feet and ended up at 4921 feet. It was a gradual down and we slowly entered another ecosystem – the high desert. We saw less and less of the evergreens and more desert plants and tons more lizards. They took us on some really long stupid switchbacks – back and forth, back and forth.
We met no one today and perhaps all of the through hikers are past us and on their way to Kennedy Meadows.
Miles for the day: 6.5 Total miles for the day: 202.65
Highest elevation for the day: 7774 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 4921 feet
The scenery today was spectacular. John had found a neat campsite back off the trail. As we left our campsite and entered the trail we ran right into 3 guys – Alex, Robert and Jaime. We were all surprised to see each other.
This was a day of descending; nice and gentle. We went from 4900 feet down to 1200 feet. We went through some gorgeous areas. Huge, huge boulder areas with wonderful views. During our lunch, 3 other hikers passed us.
We got down to the water fountain and had traveled about 10 miles. At that point we met Mulligan, who had passed us at lunch and shortly thereafter we met his traveling buddies – Crimson, Roosevelt and Biff (female).
We walked across the desert on soft sand (like at a beach). And then under the freeway and onward for 4 more miles to the Pink Motel, our stopping point for the night. The 3 guys we had met first thing in the day were there, but they left shortly thereafter. The 4 people at the waterfountain were there.
The Pink Motel is a place where hikers can stay for the night. Helen and Don Middleton have a sign up on the trail to welcome hikers. They had a cabin with 5 couches in it and some rollaway beds, another trailer with a refrigerator and freezer. The refrigerator had some food in it, plus the cupboards had food stocked in it for the hikers to use. There was a gas stove and a wood burning stove, a gas grill and huge bottles of water and a port a potty. They also had a wind generator and solar panels from which the lights got the electricity. Unfortunately there were also rats and mice out and about and something ate my beef jerky, pineapple chunks, and granola bar – the wrapper and part of the bag too. I was dumb enough to put it on the floor when I went to bed.
Biff organized dinner for all of us – spaghetti with special sauce, french bread and corn on the cob. Unfortunately I probably had heat exhaustion or something worse and only ate plain spaghetti with lots of salt. By the time I went to bed I was shivering like crazy and slept in the cabin in my clothes, jacket and sleeping bag. After a couple of hours I felt fine again.
Miles for the day: 14 Total miles: 216.65
Highest elevation for the day: 4900 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 1200 feet
The group of 4 got up at 4:13 AM and hit the trail. We got around 7 or 8; said hi to the 2 brothers who came in late last night (Matt and Ben – they slept in the kitchen area). We took off and after 2 miles ran into the group of 4 that had left so early in the morning; they were heading toward us. They had gotten a couple miles out and ran into a fire. They said that there was ash coming down and as they sat on the ridge, they could see the flames shooting way up. We all headed back toward the Pink Motel. We later heard that the fire was probably started from hikers’ cooking. We stopped and talked to the firemen who said that they thought it was controlled but then the wind had picked up and now they thought it would be 2 days before it would be under control. We decided to hitch hike around the fire and continue our hike up the trail a ways.
We got on the frontage road and headed 4 miles to Cabezon trying to hitch a ride. A wonderful lady passed us up, but then turned around and picked us up. She was heading past Cabazon to Banning and left us off in Banning.
We ate and then went to the library to find out about the bus schedule. John figured out some plans for the bus. We decided to stay at a motel and while walking down the main St. we passed the Greyhound Station and got some better plans. We decided to take a Greyhound at noon the next day to San Bernadino and from there catch the MARTA bus to Big Bear City - where John reserved a room for us at a Motel 6.
We spent the night at Banning in a Travelodge Motel, did some laundry, ate at a nice restaurant and our cell phone works!!
Miles for the day: 9.5 Total miles: 226.15
We got up and ate at McDonalds, left the motel at 11 AM and went to catch the 12:15 Greyhound bus. It blasted us right into San Bernadino right around 1 PM. John walked around and found a library with lots of shade so we hung out there on their lawn. John went about 6 blocks away and got us some food. We went back to the bus station, this time to where the MARTA bus would pick us up and there were 4 other PCT’ers there plus 2 other people. It was a small bus and it was late. When he stopped to pick us up, before he opened the door, he had everyone in the bus get up and move to the back and had them all organize their stuff so that we would all fit. All of our packs went to the back. At the next stop 2 more people got on, so it was a full bus. The bus driver handed out bag for car sickness if anyone needed them. He stopped one more time for a potty stop but he told no one to eat anything and we were off to the mountains. What a ride! What views! We arrived at Big Bear City shortly after 7 PM; got on a Dial a Ride MARTA bus that took us to our final destination.
Miles for the day: 2 Total miles: 228.15
John call the Dial a Ride and for $2 each we got a ride up to Deusen Road. We would have had to walk about 2 miles through the city to Deusen Road. It was about a 3 mile walk up Deusen Road and we were lucky enough to have someone pick us up after about a half mile.
Because of the fire and having to take a bus to Big Bear City, we missed a large section of the trail. Our plan was then to go south on the trail for a couple of days and see part of what we missed; then head back again to Big Bear City, pick up our resupply package, and get back on the trail and continue on our usual direction which is north.
We started on the trail (heading south) and immediately ran into Siesta, who was taking a siesta. He was born in Honduras, but is from DC. We walked on and passed about 4-5 more hikers, including Waterboy, and Sasquatch. Then we met Joe from Madison and we got his email address so we can visit him in Madison. He started in Idyllwild and will go until Aug. 30. We also found out that Patti was the person who inadvertently started the fire with her alcohol stove – she dropped her fuel bottle onto the burning stove and it ignited the stuff around it. And just at that time, the Black PCT hiker from Memphis came along and started taking pictures. After a couple pics, he realized that it was getting out of control and yelled “RUN”. Patti and her friend left their gear and ran one way (toward the Pink Motel) and the Black guy ran the other way. He had problems with smoke and was actually crawling on the trail and then he turned a corner, it was clear and he ran down to the trout farm.
We went as far as Doble Trail Camp, although we are camped uphill from the Camp area. There is water down there. I was just super tired today and hope to be more peppy tomorrow. We heard some coyotes and we passed 2 horsemen today. We hiked in some beautiful areas today. Lots of pines, open areas. We also walked through some of the strangest rocks. They were all different sizes, from small to the size of your hand to about a size you could just barely hold and these were all coming down the side of the mountain (not moving though). They were like at least a foot deep over the trail and they made funny noises when you walked on them. The footing really wasn’t too bad but you had to watch where you were stepping. We went over about 3-4 sections of the trail like that; the longest area being about 50 feet long.
We went into the tent right around dusk, were practically asleep when we heard someone on the trail yelling “Bob, Bob, Bob!!”. Her voice became more quiet as she walked away. Then her voice got stronger as she came back. So John got up to see what was going on and it turned out that she was one of the PCT hikers that rode the MARTA bus with us. She fell behind with her group (because of diahrrea). Her other 3 hikers were supposed to stop at the Doble Trail Camp, but obviously didn’t. So John got his jacket, flashlight and water and started walking North with her. After a mile or so, they met Bob her husband who was hiking back South to find her. They chatted for a minute. They continued North to their camp site and John hiked back south to our camp site and went to bed.
I forgot to write about Baldwin Lake. It’s dry. It’s very shallow and it’s not unusual for it to be dry. It just looks odd from up on the trail
Miles for the day: 8 Total miles: 236.15
We got up and got water from the Doble Trail camp and set off. We saw a garter snake. We crossed 2 highways and it seems like about 40 jeep roads. Out here in the wilderness we saw cars, horses (with people on them), houses, and we heard motorcycles. On one side of the mountain we were in a pine forest and when we hit the other side it was like more desert-like with scrub type bushes. We could look down and see the Mojave Desert.
Miles for the day: 8.8 Total miles:244.95
It was a cloudy today; the sun didn’t wake us this morning. Except for the day it rained, we have not seen so many clouds before. We passed 4 Pct hikers and 3 day hikers. We stopped at Arastarre Camp and got water. This was after walking over the beautiful flowing creek 3 times. There was a great spigot at the camp and it didn’t say to boil the water, so we didn’t. We saw a big fat gray squirrel today.
Our wandering today took us to many different ecosystems again. I don’t know how to describe them but it’s like you’re walking from one country to another. The vegetation changes; sometimes it almost presses in on you; you turn a corner and there are wide open spaces. You walk on rocks and suddenly you’re on dirt and then you’re walking through grass. But my new favorite things are these giant cedar trees. Their girth is massive and they can get so gnarled. Like they can grow straight up for 12 feet and then decide to turn right and there is a huge growth again as the tree grows sideways awhile before growing straight up again. They are just neat to look at.
Our destination today was Onyx Summit. The highest point in section c was 8750, but we climbed the summit and got to 8856 feet. We camped part way up to the summit. It was pretty tricky and very steep getting up there. After we found a place to camp, John climbed to the top, saw fabulous views of the Mojave Desert and Grimdel Mountain looking the other way. After we set up camp, we both climbed to the top. John set a waypoint on the GPS so we would be able to find our camp again on the way down. The first time John went up there he saw a guy working on the radio tower. The guy was surprised to see John with nothing but water and a GPS.
Miles for the day: 9.7 Total miles: 254.65
Highest elevation for the day: 9113 feet
We walked down Onyx and it was cloudy again and very windy. I wore my jacket for about 4 miles. Today we would head back north again, back to Big Bear City. We stopped at Arrastre Trail camp again for water and to wash, shave and do a little laundry. We didn’t leave there until 11:30! What a great day.
There were 2 guys with us at Arrastre. Chad from San Diego and Josh from southern California. They were talking about all the roaring as they walked today/ Both said it was pretty scary. There is a game rehab or something like that and what they heard were Siberian Tigers in a cage. They both said it was way too loud to be mountain lions. All of the animals were in cages, but the cages weren’t apparent until you turned the corner. We had a great time talking to these guys. We also found out the trail is still closed from the fire, but both these guys walked through it. One of them was there at dark and said you could see flames in certain areas where there are still hot spots. They also said that some of the people fighting the fire were inmates.
John spotted something most unusual today. He noticed a rainbow by the sun. Upon looking closer you could see that it was a complete circle around the sun. There were clouds around when we saw that rainbow.
Miles for the day: 7.5 Total miles: 262.15
Highest elevation for the day: 8856 feet
We had quite a day starting at 3 AM. First let me say that since we are returning to Big Bear City, we decided we would camp at our same spot as when we went out. At that time, around 7 PM we heard coyotes howling and we heard them again last night. We also wandered around, looking at the area and we both noticed, in different spots, small hooved footprints. We know horses go through on the PCT, but these prints were smaller. We thought maybe they were ponies, or maybe burros.
Last night right around 3 AM some, apparently wild burros, came through our site because when they got near the tent, they made that unmistakable “hee haw, hee haw” and some other kind of noise. We were both instantly awakened and John poked his head out, but saw nothing. In the morning we looked around and saw the fresh hoof prints.
As we were walking on the trail, there was a beautiful red, black and white banded snake, stretched out. He was fairly small, maybe 3 feet long. He just sat there until John got out the camera to take his picture and before the shutter opened he slithered off. John did get to take a picture of a lizard. They usually run helter skelter when they see, or hear us, but this one just stayed there.
And finally, John thought we should rest over by some rocks and as we were sitting there, I actually found a quartz crystal. It’s small, but it’s the real thing.
We got to our campsite early – around noon and so we have been just walking all over checking out the area. Our elevation is 6868; we mostly went up and down, up and down between 6900 – 7000 ft.
Miles for the day: 8.4 Total miles: 270.5
Highest elevation for the day: 7000 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 6868 feet
It was a cold night, and windy. It is always windy and especially at night and early in the morning. We are camped at 6444 ft. so we obviously descended today. We’re up on a ridge under some pine trees, but we are camped right in full view of the sun. We followed the sun around in the evening just to sit in its warmth. When the sun went down we went in the tent. We did get up to call Leslie last night (Sprint Service!), and at that time saw the first sliver of the new moon. Beautiful. This morning we slept till the sun hit our tent – 7:30. The sun shining makes a difference of night and day; after a short while it got so hot in the tent we had to get up. We heard on the radio today that it is supposed to get down to 35, with highs in the 60’s.
We packed up and went down to Hwy. 18 (.1 mile away) and started hitchhiking for a ride into Big Bear City. We could take the trail back to where we had first started, but then we would be forced to walked about 5 miles into the city. Taking this alternate route, we would be assured of a ride into the city. It took about 20 minutes, or maybe 17 cars and a guy stopped. He worked at Big Bear City and was so kind to drop us off at the fire station. We walked into the fire station and the lady was so glad to see us; she showed us where to sign in, showed us the bathrooms and showers. We took a shower, filled up our water and headed off 2 doors down to get fuel. Next we walked 1 and 1/2 blocks to the post office and got our package and sent one off (more clothes, bug spray). Then 1 more block to the laundromat where we washed clothes, organized the food and John found out that we were in Sprint Territory so he charged the phone and called some people and checked all the email. We then walked 2 doors down to have a fabulous hamburger and bbq beef, went next door to the grocery store for aples, oranges, and carrots. Then John called the taxi for our $22 ride all the way to the top of that steep, dusty Van Deusen Road.
The older lady cab driver told us that they have 4 cabs and that there are very important (rich) people that frequently come to Big Bear City. She said in the winter people come to ski and that also Boxers come to train there because it’s at 7000 feet and that Olympic runners train there too. Plus all kinds of rich people in general come to their city and these taxis drive people as far as Los Angeles and San Diego.
She took us right up to the trail and we hiked just under 5 miles – starting at 12:30 PM. We are camped at a beautiful spot amongst the pines at 7800 ft. As we hiked along we looked down on Big Bear Lake which is at least 3 miles long and just beautiful.
Miles for the day: 7.6 Total miles: 278.1
Highest elevation for the day: 7000 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 6444 feet
The temperature remained coolish for most of the day, especially with the wind blowing. It was very nice for hiking.
We hiked to Big Bear Trail Camp. They had a brand new outhouse, a horse corral, a picnic table and a bench and a sign that said “sorry, no water – the water main broke”. We weren’t planning to spend the night there anyway as a lot of motocross people hang out there. We went a short distance and filtered some water from Holcomb Creek. As we traveled on, we looked down on the creek and it looked like a small lake because some beavers had made 2 dams. Part of one of the jeep roads was under water.
We walked through some big boulder fields today. It was neat. And we turned a corner on the trail and for about .2 of a mile we got to walk through this fabulous glen of cedars. It was awesome.
I left my knife 2 miles back at Big Bear Camp where we had lunch so John went and found it.
It’s not as cold as last night, but there is a fog bank coming down the mountain to our south. It looks really neat, like a big fluffy cloud sitting on top the mountain and you can see it slowly rolling down.
Miles for the day: 11.6 Total miles: 289.7
Highest elevation for the day: 6400 feet
We didn’t get any fog last night, but what happened is that the wind didn’t blow and (I guess because of that) we got condensation and then frost on the tent. In the morning, the sun melts the frost and it drips into our tent.
We walked through a lot of sand today. Mostly from rotten granite; some of it was like sand at the beach – very hard to walk in. We walked trough some odd stuff today. A lot of rocks and boulders and then you would go through a small bit of forest; then more sand and boulders. We were up high following the contour line and below you could hear the bubbling creek. It took quite a while of descending before we hit the creek. Then we had to rock hop it 4 times.
We went through some camp area and there were some boy scouts camped out for the night. We continued on, going back up into the mountain to the “less desirable” camp (per the guidebook). And that is where we stayed. There were 2 makeshift tables, 2 iron fire grates and a stump for sitting and logs for sitting and running water (the creek). What more could you want?
We filtered some water and it was wonderful. While doing that, we noticed flecks of gold and we “panned” some gold. We don’t know how to tell if it is actual gold or not.
We also did some wash and washed our hair and John shaved. It was a lovely day. We saw deer prints at the creek, but no deer. We did see a squirrel today and those wonderful little hummingbirds.
Our elevation tonight is 5220 ft. We came down more than a thousand feet.
We’ve started going into a burn area, but it was from 1999. Within a day or 2 we will be going into a burn area from last year.
We’ve not seen any PCT hikers for a couple days. I think everyone passed us.
Miles for the day: 7.1 Total miles: 296.8
Highest elevation for the day: 6400 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 5220 feet
This burn area is quite devastating. But the (cursed) grasses are up, some bushes and especially the small flowers. Plus there were a lot of places where the trees didn’t burn completely and they still had foliage/or pine needles on them. The grass is this dry yellow stuff that gets caught on your socks and immediately bores its way straight to your skin.
The elevation at this point is 4200 ft., but it wasn’t a day of merely descending. It was up and down, up and down, up and down. For the most part we were walking on the contour line where if you fell off, it was very steep down and it was very steep up. Sometimes the ground was very loose and with us on this tiny path, it made me quite nervous.
As we walked we could hear Deep Creek below and eventually we got down there. They had a bridge 90 ft. long but it was damaged in the fire, so the PCT had a well marked detour that took us down to the water to ford or boulder-hop. We filtered water and then boulder-hopped across it. There were 2 people on horses that were coming up a path, and then crossed the stream.
From that point we went up and up and wound up on a contour line where we could look down at the creek. There were beautiful gorges and steep walls and great overlooks. But tricky to walk on.
We crossed a road that led down to Deep Creek where you could fish for 2 trout per person. The trout had to be at least 8 inches long and you could have no barb on the hook. John walked down to check it out, but I stayed on top to rest. He said there were huge flat rocks and large pools of water and it was neat.
We walked onward – same contour line- and we came to another big bridge over a big wash out. It was probably 30 – 40 ft. long. A very sturdy bridge.
We walked down this canyon that we thought would never end, but finally it flattened out a bit and we found a campsite. It just happened to be the place where John had referenced it on his sheet, from earlier looking at the topo maps.
Miles for the day: 8.9 Total miles: 305.7
Highest elevation for the day: ? Lowest elevation for the day: 4200 feet
Today we were still in that canyon and we went to the Hot Spring. It was hot. We were both surprised when this lady came up and sat in our pool – with no clothes on. She left and then 2 other skinny dippers and their dogs swam over from the big pool to come into the hot pool that we were in. It turns out that the guy grew up in Oconomowoc.
After they left, John decided to go swimming – nude- and the (psycho) lady that was the first to visit us, came back and she and John had a nice chat.
We also met a PCT hiker; a young guy from Phoenix.
As we were leaving, we learned there were 5 different hot springs and somewhere there was a spigot for drinking water.
We scared up at least 4 quail today and saw at least 2 squirrels.
We camped down this huge hill close by the river. We were feeding the blue gills with raisins. They seemed to like them. But when we threw out partially chewed up beef jerky, they went berserk! They loved it!
Here in our campsite we have about one million ants. They are very small so you don’t notice them right off. But they are everywhere. I am so glad we have a tent.
I also had diarrhea again today (like at the Pink Motel). I still feel better today than I did the day at the Pink Motel. Maybe it’s all the stuff I’m eating? John thinks I should rest more during the day on the trail and drink more.
We are at 3300 ft. today; another day of ups and downs.
Miles for the day: 6.5 Total miles: 312.2
Highest elevation for the day: 4200 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 3300 feet
I felt pretty good today. Got up before the ants got up. John carried my pack up that huge hill – up from our campsite to the trail. We walked along the old aqueduct to the dam. The dam is used to keep the water from Deep Creek and the Mojave River (they run together at that point) inside the valley. The dam is 1 mile long. However we both feel that there is no way in the world that that water could ever get that high. We walked across the top of the dam. It was neat. Then we had to go down to the (Deep) Creek and actually ford it. It was kind of cold and clear and all the silt was gone from all the hikers fording it ahead of us. There was a regular path right through the water. We went back into the water and filtered some. Just as we were finishing up a hiker came across. He was from Lansing MI and had just graduated from the U at Lansing. As we started to leave, I noticed that I did not have my trekking poles. Eric was kind enough to go back and get them. He only was wearing tennis shoes and walked across barefoot; we took off our boots and put on sandals to cross.
We had to hike up to about 3500 ft and we camped in chamise – whatever- short bushes no higher than 8 ft. tall; it almost looks like evergreens and they scratch you whenever you get near them. They seem to die quickly because there are always loads of dead ones around. The wind picked up later after our tent was up. We also met another hiker by the name of Chris. He had just graduated from Madison and said that he had also canoed Quetico.
Miles for the day: 7.2 Total miles: 319.4
Highest elevation for the day: 3500 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 3300 feet
Today as we hiked along we met Mike, from Oregon. We were supposed to ford another creek today, but we were able to boulder and then jump across the other part of the creek.
The directions in our guidebook were not quite right to get to Jenny’s Country Store, but John used his GPS and found what he thought was the store (we were up on a ridge, looking down at the buildings). He found a trail that looked like it went to the store and it did and the place he thought was the store was correct. John Rund had put our supply box out and the water was on and there was even electricity in the back so John plugged in the phone. The Country Store had been closed for a while, but John had called John Rund to find out if we could send a supply box there anyway.
After that we hiked into the burn area of Lake Silverwood. It was pretty ugly, but I didn’t think it was as bad as the burn area at Combs Peak. There were areas, as we walked that had not even been burned and then areas that were very bad. When we got to the picnic ground, and campground area it looked like it had hardly been touched. We were surprised that the park wasn’t open. The whole area is closed, except it is open for PCT hikers to hike through. The water was also on at the picnic area and a bathroom was open!! We went all the way through the park – actually the views were incredible, way up high on the ridge. We were looking down at that huge Silverwood Lake. It is a reservoir and we saw another huge dam and a neat spillway.
We camped right outside the park, right past the freeway, in a picnic area that got burned. The port a potty is half melted. We’re in a nice sandy wash with some ants, but not nearly as many as the night before.
Miles for the day: 12.8 Total miles: 332.2
Highest elevation for the day: ? Lowest elevation for the day: 3500 feet
We were in the burn area for most of the day. I forgot to write that yesterday we met 4 guys; one was from Leadville, CO, a city whose elevation is 10000 ft. We played leapfrog with them most of the day and then they finally passed us at about 6:30 PM when we were in our camping area. Today we played leapfrog with a guy named Jeff from Columbus, OH.
We went over a really bad part of the trail today. Since we are in the burn and walking on that forever contour, sometimes the mountain just sloughs away. When we got to this wash, it had sloughed away. You were supposed to go up and over the wash, but that part of the mountain had just slid away and so we had to go straight down the wash about 8 feet and then straight up the other side. It was really dangerous. As you were sliding down there was a strong bush to hang onto and a big rock. Going back up there was a bush. I reached my trekking pole to John and he pulled me up. I can’t believe people haven’t died there. There was one more similar bad wash, but not as steep or treacherous.
We looked down into this valley and there, amongst all the burn was this beautiful house with many trees. Slightly further on we saw another house, with trees around it. And that house had a burn area all around it. Both houses had been spared.
We walked some more and got to a ridge where the wind was blowing so hard that it would knock me off balance. Then we would turn a corner and it would be calm. We would turn again and that wind would hit you full force. When we got off the ridgeline, John said it was a good thing because he had his hat on so tight that it was making his head fall asleep. I was holding my hat on.
We camped in a nice wash tonight, although somewhat in a hole. The zipper on my pants got wrecked and so John tried to call Nat, so she could send me another pair of pants, but the cell phone didn’t work in our (hole) campground. John went up on the trail and hiked to the top of one of the mountains around us and said that the vistas are incredible. And the cell phone worked. Nat will send me another pair of pants.
Miles for the day: 8 Total miles: 340.2
We slept in until almost 7:30 AM because we were socked in with fog. Luckily the sun came out at 7:31 AM for 5 minutes and it got so hot in the tent you couldn’t stand it. After we got up the sun went under again. I wore my long pants and jacket today and nearly froze. All the bushes were dripping and wet from the fog so our pants got totally soaked as did both our boots. John wore his shorts today so his legs got soaked.
I didn’t get to see the spectacular scenery that John saw yesterday when he climbed the mountain to use the cell phone. The entire area was socked in and we had about 75 to 100 feet of visibility at most. When we got to Crowder Canyon it was so neat. Lots of high stone bluffs on either side and a stream down the middle. The stream where we crossed was about 8-10 ft. wide and we had to ford it; but it was on sand and you could hardly even see the water. As we walked further on, the stream picked up and was even gurgling and making stream noises like your run of the mill stream.
From that point, we walked a short distance to the end of the trail for Section C and saw a sign for McDonalds - .4 mile. We ate there and then walked another half mile or so to the Best Western. At 1:30 we were in our motel room and it was still foggy.
Miles for the day 5.6 Total miles: 345.8
Highest elevation for the day: ? Lowest elevation for the day: 3000 feet
It was still a little foggy this morning, but nothing like the other day. We got packed up and left. It was exactly 1 mile back to the start of the trail. At the beginning of our hike today there was supposed to be some kind of nature center thing, with plaques naming all the plants. It had been destroyed in a fire.
At the very beginning of today’s hike we got to walk under the freeway (I-15) via a big tunnel. It was neat. A couple miles past that we got to go through another tunnel, although not as big as the first one, and it took us under some railroad tracks. Then at 5 and ½ miles there was a water cache – which was empty.
The PCT took us everywhere today, except in the right direction. When we got up higher and looked down at the trail it went every which way. The last mile or so was really tough; pretty steep, or else we were both just tired. In my case, I was completely beat.
We just sort of happened upon our campsite. It’s quite obvious that other people have camped here.
One of our “new” problems today was biting flies; like deer flies. They were pretty nasty. A guy from England went by, by the name of Tom.
Miles for the day: 10.8 Total miles: 356.6
Highest elevation for the day: 5200 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 3000 feet
We hiked up from 5200 ft to 8200 ft. today. It wasn’t that bad, although by the end of the day I was very tired. Our ending mileage was 11.4 but Guffy Campground was 1 mile down the road so we hiked down there after dinner trying to see if we could find the hidden spring. We found the hidden spring but it took some doing. According to the book we were supposed to find a path off to the right that went downhill. The path wasn’t marked. We found many (not correct) paths leading down. When we finally found the right one, it was marked with a log. Any PCT’er would know that that was the correct trail and everyone else would just ignore it.
After that we walked up to the campground. There is no water at the campground but since it is Memorial Day Weekend there were many people. It was like a free for all – camp wherever you feel like. They also had campfires, which were allowed. But having been through the burn areas, plus it is so dry and some of these campfires almost touched the sky…. We left and went back to our little campsite and hoped that the campfires didn’t get out of control because the wind was in our direction.
As we hiked today, and got higher in elevation the pine trees started showing up. We’re camped under pine trees about .1 mile from the trail and about the same distance from the Acorn Trail, which is the trail we will hike on tomorrow to go down into Wrightwood. We had those stupid biting flies most of the way today; when they slowed down, the gnats came out.
Miles for the day: 14.1 Total miles: 370.7
Highest elevation for the day: 8200 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 5200 feet
As we were leaving our site this morning there was a young kid in his 20’s, camped on the other side of the trail.
We walked down the mountain – from 8250 ft to 6000 ft. It was kind of tough. The Acorn Trail was about 2 miles and then the rest of the way was down down down on city streets. We got a room at the Pines Motel. No laundramat so we did our own wash and John hung it up at the playground across the street.
Wrightwood is a neat little touristy town. A fun place to shop and they had a very nice grocery store. There was a restaurant nearby where we had lunch. We also walked down to the Mountain Hardware Store and picked up our resupply package.
Miles for the day: 3.4 Total miles: 374.1
Highest elevation for the day: 8250 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 6000 feet
Tuesday is the day the Fed Ex package was to arrive, with my beige REI pants in it since the zipper broke on my gray ones. It was actually supposed to have arrived on Saturday, but they don’t deliver to Wrightwood on Sat. We expected it early; then we expected it by 11 AM; then John called Nat so she could track it down and we found out that it was supposed to arrive by 4:30 PM. It came about 2PM. John went off to the Post Office to mail my gray pants back to Nat. While he was doing that, Scott came to the Pines Motel. A lady by the name of Julie had picked him up as Scott was hitchhiking. We all stood around and talked awhile. Scott had seen a bear a day or two ago and some tarantulas.
John got back and we took off at about 2:30. I did get my haircut today.
It was about 1 mile on the paved city streets, then a short STEEP distance on a rocky dirt road and the Acorn Trail to take us back to the PCT Trail. The Acorn Trail was far worse than Devil’s Slide. This trail was very steep and I just had a hard time breathing and was so tired. But we made it! When we got to the top we walked the .9 mile to Guffy Campground.
What a switch as compared to when we were here on Memorial Day weekend. The campground is completely empty. It’s amusing because as we look at this place, there are about 6-8 sites and there were easily 30 groups here and there were more cars pulling in as we were walking out (on Sunday) at about 6:30 PM.
As John was cooking dinner tonight; he usually puts the stove on the ground. But we had a picnic table so he cooked on that. Midway into the cooking, the picnic table started to burn. He quickly took the pan off and then carefully moved the stove over and resumed cooking. With an alcohol stove you only have so much time before it goes out. I dumped some water on the burned area, which had quit burning when the stove was removed and everything was fine.
Miles for the day: 4.1 Total miles: 378.2
Highest elevation for the day: 8250 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 6000 feet
FINALLY!! John spotted a deer today. We were by Mountain Something (Table Mountain ?) ski area and John saw the deer on one of the hills. It had big ears and when he ran, he leapt, he bounced.
We saw 2 small man made lakes that supplied water to make snow at the ski hills. One of them even had 2 ducks swimming in it.
This morning we got up and filtered water at the spring right by Guffy and then walked quite a few steep ups and downs. We passed some inmates who would be working on the trail. When we saw them, they were resting by their bus. We also got to see some garbage cans today. That is most unusual and a real treat. We generally carry all our garbage from town to town. The PCT crossed Hwy 2 and they even had a rest area with some bathrooms, but no water.
We walked a little further to Sunny Hollow Visitor Center. It is normally only opened on Sat. and Sun. but there was a class field trip on this day. John went over and talked to the Visitor Center volunteers and found out that the picnic area and also the water spigot is opened now, and through the summer. The visitor center is opened only on weekends. The building was built in 1996 by the Forest Service and they ran out of money and wanted to board up the building. But these people bought it and volunteers run it on weekends. (or something like that). The volunteer ladies let us go in and look at the stuffed animals and the displays. They were very nice; the volunteers, the displays and the building.
We are camped less than a mile past Sunny Hollow.
Miles for the day: 6.1 Total miles: 384.3
Highest elevation for the day: ? Lowest elevation for the day: 8250 feet
We started out going up and down but eventually going down to hit Hwy 2 and the trailhead (with a bathroom and garbage can!). As we were resting there, a lady bicyclist with a BOB trailer zoomed by. Shortly thereafter, her husband stopped and John went and compared notes with him about biking.
We then started at about 6200 ft to climb Mt. Baden-Powell. Baden-Powell was the founder of the boy scouts and so lots of boy scouts climb that trail to the top. We saw no boy scouts. It was a PCT/boy scout trail and it was a wonderful trail, all the way up to 9200 ft. We stopped at 7799 ft and took a very short trail to Lamel Spring. A lovely little spring. Then we went back to the regular trail and 2 more miles to the summit.
At the summit were these big gnarled trees. They are called limber pines. There was one massive one that was 1500 years old. The root system on it was like octopus- leg type roots above ground and each root was up to 2 and ½ feet in diameter and 10 – 12 feet long. All gnarled and twisted, but smooth and great for sitting on. It was amazing and wonderful to behold. I know that tree has had many a tired hiker sit and rest on it.
While we were resting on the tree we met the Wandering Monk, from Winter Park, CO. He was probably in his 40’s and has hiked a lot. After he completes the PCT he will have hiked 10,000 miles. He just bought a touring bike to start biking instead of hiking. He said he used to have a house, car, etc, but sold it all and now he plays for 6 months and works for 6 months. He’s somehow working with a ski place. But he rents furnished condos from his friends while he is doing the working part. He hiked the Appalacian Trail twice, the trail in Colorado, the long trail in Vermont but the funniest was the Florida Trail. He said 700 miles of it was on the highway and he had to walk through swamps – with the alligators. Once he had to hike 7 miles through a swamp with his boots on top of his pack; his pack on his shoulder and he was in chest deep water. He was an extremely interesting guy.
After a while John climbed the .1 mile to the top and then called me, that I should come up too. There was lots to see up there, but there was also a lot of haze.
We went back to the trail and walked to a sort of ridge, just past Burnham Peak and before Throop Peak and that is where we camped for the night at 8800ft.
Miles for the day: 9.3 Total miles: 393.6
Highest elevation for the day: 9200 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 6000 feet
We began by climbing up and up. I’m not sure how high. We had to climb Mt. Throop, but not the peak. The trail took us to .3 mile from the top. However John went to the top as I stayed and rested. He got to 9200 ft. We walked on, going down, and went through a recent burn area (1 year old). There was one tree that we went by that you could actually smell the old fire smell. Crystal Lake Recreation Area was closed because of the fire. We went to Little Jimmy Campground and Spring. It had cold fast flowing water. John filtered until the filter broke. The pumping part literally broke; then we took the water unfiltered.
We went down to Islip Trailhead on Hwy 2 and it had a bathroom and a garbage can. We were at 6600 ft. We had lunch with the mosquitoes, and then had to climb to 7900 ft. in 1.6 miles to Mt. Williamson. John climbed another .4 mile to the peak. We then climbed back down to Hwy 2 (again) in 1.3 miles. After that we went up and down a couple hundred feet and wound up back at Hwy 2 at Eagles Roost. We thought it was supposed to be a picnic area, but we are camped here. Alone. There is a bathroom, garbage can and picnic table.
We are still seeing those great huge gnarly trees. They are so bizarre and so beautiful.
Miles for the day: 12.3 Total miles: 405.9
Highest elevation for the day: 9200 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 6678 feet
We started out today in such a neat area, slowly descending. There was lots of room on either side of the trail and lots of rocks and trees. After a mile or so we crossed a creek and did so again a couple of times. Once we walked into super-dense canopy; it got so cool and almost dark.
Another time we crossed a stream that was flowing west, crossed it, went up on the trail above the stream, looked down at it and noticed another stream flowing east. John went down to investigate and I followed. What happened was the 2nd stream started higher, ran down and met with the first stream. What we had seen from the trail above was the first stream heading east, then it turned south (we couldn’t see that from on the trail) and it met up with the first stream, and they both went south. The first stream included a beautiful waterfall.
We saw so many baby pine trees and cedar trees today. Also young trees, medium size trees and great giant trees. And so many in general, growing everywhere. They grew at odd angles, on the hillside, growing out of rocks, in washes and in your normal sandy soil.
It has been getting what I call very hot. The sun is just so hot and if you are fortunate enough to get in the shade then it is very pleasant. Right near the end of our walk, the last mile or so it was so hot. We were like in a canyon and every now and then there would be a breeze. I thought we would never get to our destination, Camp Glenwood. It was a boy scout camp with water – listed as “not for drinking”. And we still don’t have a water filter. The plan was to put iodine tablets in it and we did. We were planning to go down the road, 1.8 miles and then camp so that in the morning we would be right near the highway to hitch a ride to Newcomb Ranch to get our resupply package.
However, we were still at Camp Glenwood, sitting at a picnic table, getting organized when John spotted a surveyor. His name was Terry Tanner, he is retired and he is making his own topo maps. When he found out that we had to go to Newcomb Ranch, he offered to take us and bring us back! So John went and got the package and lots of water.
We spent the night at the boyscout camp. John ran our food up the flag pole so that no bear or raccoon could get our food. We have our own bear canister that we keep our food in but since we had just resupplied, it wouldn’t all fit.
Terry took our picture and sent it to Nat via email.
We are having 2 problems – mosquitoes (but only at night) and the zippers on the tent only work half of the time. It’s quite annoying, especially with mosquitoes around.
Miles for the day: 11 Total miles: 416.9
Highest elevation for the day: 6678 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 6200 feet
Today we started descending. We were at about 6200 ft and went down to 5200 ft in about 5 miles. We passed by 2 bathrooms and 2 garbage cans. It was hot in the sun at 7:30 in the morning so as the day wore on it got really hot. We were lucky to have a breeze from time to time.
We passed a few streams with very little water in them. We are carrying enough water for today and tomorrow and this is the water that John got from a visitor center while Terry took him to Newcomb Ranch. At first I thought it tasted great – like well water. But on second thought, it’s not so great tasting. John noted that it doesn’t quench your thirst (true) and it makes your mouth feel kind of coated or dry – maybe from the minerals. Tomorrow we get more water. I hope from a spring.
We saw a little baby rattlesnake in the trail today. So cute. John took his picture. He wasn’t moving, so John nudged him with my pole and he went and hid in a bush. John also saw another deer today.
After we got down to 5200 ft we had to climb up to 6760 ft. The climb wasn’t too bad but the scenery and trail were awful. We went through scratchy chamise or chaparral or whatever it is that hangs out onto the trail. And it was all dry, similar to the desert, somewhat boring and HOT, with very little shade until we got back up to 6000ft. At that point we saw some pine trees and rocks and more open areas where the bushes aren’t hanging into the trail.
We are camped nearly on the ridgeline of Pacifico Mountain (I think) at 6670 ft, under pine trees and we can hear the wind blowing through the trees. The wind is funny around here. You can hear it howling most of the time, but frequently not much of it comes down on the ground. It’s mostly higher up in the trees.
The gnats were quite annoying today, but it’s odd because they come and go. Also those nasty like deer flies were out and biting from time to time.
Miles for the day: 11.2 Total miles: 428.1
Highest elevation for the day: 6670 feet Lowest elevation for the: 5200 feet
We started out climbing just a bit to see a beautiful view down Antelope Valley – we saw East Palmdale, Palmdale and Lancaster and the Rock Creek Reservoir. Then we basically started going down. It was cooler today plus we were in the shade of the mountain a lot of the time. Our goal was the ranger station/trailhead for water and we made it in 6.6 miles.
Enroute to the ranger station we passed by some squeaking birds and a big bird flew away as we approached. John thought it may have been a hawk, I thought maybe an eagle. Plus we did see a hawk up on our viewing spot this morning.
While we rested, washed clothes and drank water at the Trailhead, Charlie, another PCT hiker came by. Like the Wandering Monk he’s older and without a house (or car I presume). He has a daughter in Connecticut – he called her and asked for his bear canister because he had slept at Little Jimmy Campground last night and was up most of the night because of a bear. A couple of days ago he had to stop at an E.R. because of bad abdominal pain and it was kidney stones; he’s better now. He is planning to hike to Canada and actually stay awhile with friends in British Columbia. We talked a long time – he was a nice guy. He biked a while ago from Washington to Maine and hence went through Minnesota. He said he did it on the spur of the moment and so left in August to do that biking trip. It took him until October some time to finish it.
When we left, with full water (me 6 liters, John 6 liters and an additional 7 quarts!) it was all uphill. Not only that but it was on deep sand, like at the beach. It was pretty tough. We made it to the top (5656 ft) and are camped under a Coulter Pine. The fog is rolling our way from the south and west. Hope it stops before it gets here. Plus the smog, haze or yuck toward LA is disgusting. As we were sitting at the trailhead/ranger station, they had a radio outdoors that was a fire service dispatch radio. We hear there was a brush fire on Hwy 5, ½ mile south of Lake Hughes. That is one of our resupply points. After listening awhile, they recalled some of their fire engines.
Miles for the day: 9.2 Total miles: 437.3
Highest elevation for the day: 6670 feet Lowest elevation for the day: ?
We woke up and didn’t notice much sun. Last night the clouds were coming in, although every time I woke up the starts were out. However once I looked and even though there were stars and a moon, the whole valley was socked in except for 1 lone mountain top, sticking out of the fog.
So anyway, we looked out the tent door and there was fog everywhere. So having walked once before in fog (and nearly freezing to death) we decided to stay in the tent until we felt the sun shine on it. At 10 o’clock that happened so we got up and left about 11 AM.
We went up a little and down a little (according to the guidebook we “undulated”). After 4 miles we dropped about 400 feet to 5800 ft and from that point we started to climb 4 more miles to 6400 ft. It wasn’t a bad climb, except that I hurt my foot yesterday climbing in all that sand, so John took my 6 pounds of water. It helped.
As we were hiking today the trail was beautiful the entire time. Usually it’s about a foot wide, but most of the way today it was 3 feet wide. Plus they cut back all the shrubs. Plus when we started at first we had shade because there were trees on both sides of the trail. Almost like walking in a tunnel. It was neat. At one point we were by a Coulter Pine and a pine cone fell off. The are so big and heavy; it made so much noise, I thought maybe a bear was after us. Last night our tent was under a Coulter Pine and had a pine cone fallen on the tent, it probably would have put a hole in it. We checked that tree first though, and didn’t see any pinecones over our tent.
As we continued onward, there was a bobwhite quail on our path making strange sounds and clearly not getting off the trail. Further down the trail there was yet another bobwhite that did the same thing, but this time we saw the babies, and the mama was using the old broken wing routine to lure us away. After we went by she had to go back up the hill to try to find her babies. John also spotted a snake; a baby one. We don’t know what kind and then he saw yet another snake, that one a garter snake.
As we neared the top of the trail it was becoming very windy and foggy with the clouds streaming by. When we got to our highest point, 6400 ft. John climbed a steep but short distance to the top of Mt. Gleason, 6500 ft., (while I rested). We both decided to put on more clothes and it was a good thing. It was .9 miles to the campground and by the time we got there I was frozen (it’s June 8). We put all of our gear on a picnic table and got out our clothes pack. I put on every piece of clothing in my bag. The wind was relentless and there was no place to hide in the campground, other than the bathroom. We put up the tent and are planning to have a cold night and are hoping for sun tomorrow. (And 2 days ago I was so hot).
Miles for the day: 9.5 Total miles: 446.8
Highest elevation for the day: 6400 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 5656 feet
We got up and saw a little bit of the sun, but it remained super windy, cool, with fog on and off and freezing. We walked about 5.5 miles to the Ranger Station and wamed up in areas where there was less wind, but we both had on our Lifa hats and jackets for the first mile or 2. When we hit the ranger station, it was sunny, but still really windy.
We found out from the Ranger (Todd) that Patti, the girl that set the fire at Whitewater was billed $900,000.
After we left there we had a tough time. It was steep, short ups and downs. After a mile it was primarily steep down. We saw some more baby quails and a mom quail. We ended up for the night in a wash at the bottom of a canyon. While sitting in our campsite, 3 young guys and a girl (midteens) hiked through, going in the opposite direction that we are going. It’s late afternoon at this time and we are surprised to see them at this hour because they aren’t carrying any kind of equipment, or water that we can see, and we know it’s a long way to get to civilization on the route that they’re going. After an hour or so they came back, heading back toward their car (they’re still probably going to be walking in the dark as it is getting late). About 10 minutes later 2 of the 4 come back, asking if we might have any extra water that they could have. Between the 4 of them, they had one 16 ounce bottle of water. We gave them the small amount that was left from one of our platypus bottles and also our 32 oz. nalgene. Since that wouldn’t fit into their 16 oz. bottle, we told them to just take it and leave it on the trail when they were done; we’d pick it up in the morning, since they were going the same way we were. Of course we never expected to see that nalgene again.
Miles for the day: 9.7 Total miles: 456.5
Highest elevation for the day: ? Lowest elevation for the day: ?
We found the nalgene the next day about 1/4 mile down the trail. They left a nice note, thanking us for the water; from Mike, Mike, Aaron and Leslie, and wishing us Godspeed.
It was 4.4 miles going up and down, here and there, this way and that, going west if you really were supposed to go east, to get to the Robin’s Nest RV Park. We were going to stop at a different park, but they went out of business. We made it to Robin’s Nest, rested, ate lunch, got water and called Nat to find out the plans for next week. She will be meeting us at Hikertown next Sunday and we’ll camp together Sun. night and head for Las Vegas on Monday.
We had to climb about 800 steep feet after we left the RV Park. This mountain range has no shade. We were lucky that it was windy. We’re in the area of Vasquez Rock. It is a conglomerate of igneous and metamorphic cobbles in a mixture of pink siltstone that glues it all together. It is quite amazing. As we walked on the trail we looked up into one of those rock formations and saw a cave. It was near the trail so we went over to investigate and it was big enough for the tent: 8 ft. high, 30 ft. across, 11 ft. deep. So that’s where we spent the night. We had an incredible view from up there (3000 ft.). This has to be our neatest sight yet.
There was also a fabulous wash right near where our tent was, although the area was very steep and it was hard to get to. But I climbed down and walked all over in the wash, examining the beautiful kinds of rocks, some of it being Vasquez Rock, and some being just hardened and different from anything I’ve seen before.
Miles for the day: 9.5 Total miles: 466
Highest elevation for the day: 3000 feet Lowest elevation for the day: ?
We walked to Highway 14 and got to go through a tunnel about 100 feet long to go under the freeway. After that we came to a sign that said 1 mile to Vasquez County Park. Enroute to the park we passed many of those odd and beautiful rock outcroppings.
We stopped at the picnic ground for a snack; we didn’t want to eat lunch because we ate most of our food and all that was left were 3 oatmeal packets each. From the picnic area we walked a short distance to a highway, slightly past that, we turned onto another road which had homes on it and some fabulous, wonderful gardens; and that same road took us to Agua Dulce, CA. proper and the Sweetwater Market. The Sweetwater Market had a wonderful deli, so we had a fantastic lunch. We then walked to Darlington Road where a wonderful person in a truck stopped and offered us a ride to the Sauffley’s (our destination for the day.)
The Sauffley’s have a wonderful, beautiful place. They have 2 Percheron horses, 7 dogs, fantastic landscaping and shade. There is a very nice trailer for us to stay in as we are the only people here at this time. The trailer sleeps 6 with a modern kitchen. And everything is CLEAN. Donna takes and does everyone’s wash and it actually comes out clean. Nearly everyone has noted in the journal that their wash is clean. There is also a second trailer for people to stay in. After that, there were probably 6 huge tents set up around their yard; this was especially for the time when the biggest group of hikers came through. I believe Donna said they had 51 people there for 2 nights.
The grounds here are impeccable, with fruit trees, a gardened area with huge cacti, and a incredible flower garden. After the heat and the trials and tribulations of hiking, this is truly like stopping at heaven. Did I mention clean? Everywhere, everything is clean.
We took Jeff and Donna out to eat at a nice restaurant in Agua Dulce and John got to shake hands with Mike Connors from the Mannix TV show.
Miles for the day: 9 Total miles: 475
There are 3 PCT hikers here, the only named Baloo, Mogli and Circus. Two of them started together and they picked the 3rd guy up on the trail the 2nd day out. Alex (a girl) and Scott are here. They are living in Montana; Scott graduated from somewhere in Montana and Alex is a chef, but doesn’t make much money at it and so she is a waitress. They met at a lodge in Alaska, near Denali. I greatly enjoyed their company. Orian came in late, spent the night and then left. School starts for him at the end of August and he wants to get up to Canada, so he rests very little.
While Alex and Scott went to the grocery store they found another hiker and brought him back. He’s from Indianapolis and went kayaking in the brackish waters of the everglades. He and his fellow kayakers saw some dolphins. There were also 2 new people there when John and I left in the morning.
It was a long, hot, hard day. We kept leap frogging with the Baloo, Mogli and Circus. Since everyone knew that this section of trail was going to be a killer, those guys had sent back clothes, tents, and some other stuff to Kennedy Meadows, so they wouldn’t have to carry it all. They all revamped all of their food; I remember hearing one of them saying that he would practically be living on little Debbie snack cakes.
I felt really bad today – tired, vague headache, nauseated, and so hot. It helped when I ate. John even carried my pack (and his of course ) for a while early on. He had a hard day too (not even counting him carrying my pack). It was way hot and we did not have a breeze. We each drank 3 liters of water plus sharing 1 qt by 3 PM. Then we came upon a water cache!! It was set up by the Andersons, and from their little sign we’re hoping to find another one tomorrow. We climbed about 1100 ft. today and then of course went right back down. We are camped in amongst the chaparral, in a small opening. We even have some shade.
Miles for the day: 12.4 Total miles: 487.4
Highest elevation for the day: whatever plus 1100 feet
It was another hard day. It just seems so hot to me. Plus where we were walking was totally exposed. It always feels so nice to sit down in the shade (if you can find some or make some) and when the breeze blows, it’s heavenly. We did have a few breezes.
As we were walking there were manzanitas everywhere and we were looking for the Anderson cache to be down by the road, when we ran into a skeleton hanging on a manzanita tree – with a beer in his hand and a neckerchief on his head that said “PCT Class of 2004”. Upon looking into the cool shaded opening between the trees, we saw an inflatable flamingo and an inflatable palm tree. There were even 2 chairs!!, lots of water and an ice chest (with ice in it) that had soda and beer in it. Not only was this an oasis, it was heaven. The time was close enough for lunch so we sat on the chairs, had 2 squirts each and ate our poptarts. I got the register out and read all the hilarious comments that people wrote.
After awhile we forced ourselves to leave and went on some hot (but sometime breezy) undulating terrain. It was very boring, very tough. We were getting close to our destination – the ranger station but we were supposed to drop about 300 ft. and we kept climbing. UGH. At last we saw the ranger station and started to drop. We just got to the picnic table to check out the water supply, took off our packs and put our feet up then who should appear in a loud souped up VW than Joe Anderson with Baloo, Mogli and Circus. The 3 guys had been at the Oasis (the place with the inflated flamingo) when Joe brought some water/sodas to put in the cooler. So he took the guys to his house. He was going to drop them back off on the trail and then come and pick us up.
He did come back for us, however the guys went to the Malt Shop, then Joe came and got us and we went to the Malt Shop. At that point he took the boys back to the Oasis because they planned to walk 15 miles that day (actually night).
Terrie, Joe’s wife, was working at the Malt Shop so we took her car back to their house, with pizza and waited and waited and waited for Joe to get back from the Oasis. Finally he showed up at 9 PM with Alex and Scott, whom we had met at the Sauffly’s and he also had a ton of backpacks. Joe left again and came back again with the other Scott that we met at the Sauffly’s (the one from Indianapolis) plus 2 new new hikers, Sara and (Jere)Miah from Ft. Collins. Then Joe left again and came back with Terrie and the 3 guys – Baloo, Mogli and Circus. They had walked the 6.5 miles from the Oasis to the ranger station and were going to spend the night again at Joe’s house.
They had a whole lot of space in their back yard of manzanitas trees; Terrie called the area the Enchanted Forest. It looked like an Enchanted Forest, it was perfectly wonderful. There was a tent set up back there, a couch, 2 hammocks, a cot and lots of flat space for sleeping on the ground. It was awesome.
We got up at 6:30AM, Terrie got up and made waffles, pancakes and coffee. It was Miah’s birthday so we sang to him over a candled waffle. And finally left.
Miles for the day: 13.2 Total miles: 500.6
We climbed about 1000 feet, straightened out, and then dropped. It wasn’t a tough hike except we were both very tired and hot. Right before we hit the road to Lake Hughes we came to the next Anderson water cache. They had water on 1 side and 2 rugs (12x12) on the other shaded side for resting. Those people are something else. I forgot to write that Joe is a set dresser – he puts all the stuff on the TV sets for the “JAG” and also for the “NCIS” television series. We got the lowdown on everyone – Harm is an arrogant jerk, Colonel McKenzie is very professional, very nice and kind of shy and very beautiful; the guy with one leg is a really nice intelligent guy and the Admiral is also very nice. Mark Harmon however is the coolest of all and everyone loved him. Back to hiking…
We started hitchhiking toward Lake Hughes (2.8 miles) and the 3rd car picked us up and took us to the post office, which happened to be the furthest point. We got our package and John noticed that his hat was missing. He had left it in the van. We walked back to town and camped in a run down RV camping place in the center of town for $10. There is a bathroom, cold water and showers and picnic tables.
We went to eat at the restaurant and while sitting there, Steve, the guy who had picked us up, came back with John’s hat. He sat down and had a beer. He was from around there and he said that when he bought his house in the late 90’s on Lake Hughes the lake was up to the road. Now it’s 50 yards down and where there used to be a sandbar that he used to kayak over, it’s is now sticking way out of the water.
Miles for the day: 8.6 Total miles: 509.2
One of the locals stopped and talked to us for quite a while in the morning. It was OK though because we were packed up and ready to go, but awaiting until 8AM, the opening time for the restaurant. Dinner had been so good the night before that we thought we’d go back for breakfast. We had greasy eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, toast and juice. Delicious!
I have to interject here that we stopped at the ATM at the convenience store in Lake Hughes. You could only get $100 and it all came in ten dollar bills!
We had to walk on the road for the 2.3 miles before we got to the trail, but it wasn’t so bad. We climbed very steeply for a little over a mile and eventually wound up at 4646 ft. where we camped. I think that first mile on the trail took us up almost 1000 ft. and it was so hot. I was sweating uncontrollably. Sweat dripped down my face even (that hardly ever happens).
We got to Joe’s water cache #4, in the shade of course and had lunch. Then a wonderful thing happened. As we took off, I noticed the smog and John said “marine layer”. Sure enough, it was the marine layer – you could feel the extreme coolness in the air. We hiked for the next 5 miles very comfortably. There were even clouds in the sky.
The terrain is odd. We walked on sand/rotten granite amongst the manzanitas and some pine and oak. We got into some shade every now and then (the gnats like the shade). At the top of ridge you could see stuff over the top of the manzanitas trees. It is a nice change of pace to have the coolness in the air.
Miles for the day: 8.3 Total miles: 517.5
Highest elevation for the day: 4646 feet
The place that we camped at last night was in a pine forest and cedar forest. Yesterday I had written that the trail was just different and odd looking. I think the reason was because there was a lot more space as we were walking. Usually the bushes are so close to the trail that they brush up onto our legs. Or we’re on a steep contour and have only a 12 inch strip of trail to walk on. The part to your (left) that goes up goes straight up and the part to your (right); well should you step off the trail, you’d never be heard from again. It’s steep.
Today, we took off with gnats. John said that he had his compulsory 24 gnats around his head. They don’t seem to bite however.
We traveled up and down and through quite a bit of shade and then we started to feel that “Marine Layer” again; that wonderful cool wind.
We stopped at Dave Canfield’s water cache and took some water. Shortly thereafter we got to Joe Anderson’s last cache and we took some water, had lunch and cameled up (drank water until you almost puked). We walked a little further and came to the 2.1 mile uphill of about 1000 ft. elevation. It wasn’t too bad plus there were no gnats and there was that wonderful cool wind. At the top of the trail, we got off the trail to look for a campsite and found one on rotten granite/sand by a dirt road. It was nice.
John walked over to the ridge and was able to look right down to Antelope Valley – the place where the Mojave Desert is. He was actually able to see our ending place. According to the GPS it’s 5 miles north from where we are. We will be going westerly for most of the next 16 miles and turn back northeast to get to our final destination – Hikertown.
We saw cat tracks today shortly after we left this morning. John thought they were probably bobcat tracks, because they seemed to be a small track.
Miles for the day: 9.2 Total miles: 526.7
Highest elevation for the day: 5580 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 4600 feet
We started off today by stopping after .1 mile to go look at a huge 10,000 gallon underground concrete tank that had water in it for firefighters. The top was round and it was concrete with a diameter of about 20 ft. It had a 3x6 foot heavy iron lid on it, so the firefighters could get at the water. That lid was hard to move, but moveable never the less. John pushed it a little bit out of the way so we could get our hose down into the water to filter some water. It looked clear and it was cold. It was down about 2 ft but with the hose on our water filter it worked perfectly.
We passed through some neat landscape today. Lots of trees, mostly oak and a lot of grasses and wide open spaces. It looked a lot like MN.
We had about 300 feet up and then 300 feet down . Then we stayed level for a while before going down about 1200 ft.
Along the way we ran into a rattlesnake. John saw him so we stopped 8-10 back. He saw us and just looked. John wanted to hear him rattle so he kicked some sand at him and that made him fightin’ mad. He coiled right up (we heard they can only strike 1/3 of their body length) and started rattling like crazy; but then he went back into the bushes. We could tell he went a ways back because he was rattling the whole way.
We saw 2 ladies on horseback. They loved to stop and talk, so we talked for quite a while and then they went on. Unfortunately we met a guy on a horse, however we didn’t know he was coming and he didn’t know we were coming. When the horse saw me (I was walking first on the trail) he was startled and kind of reared up and threw the guy (name of Paul) off his back. Luckily he got thrown on some grass and not on rocks or bushes or trees or down a steep bank. He was very fortunate, although he did take quite a fall. His horse just ran back 100 ft. and stood there. Paul was able to retrieve him and they headed back home.
We saw a couple chestnut trees today. We are camped at 3800 ft. at the edge of the Angeles State Forest. We’re in by a bunch of “live interior oaks” – as per the guide book. These trees don’t look like oaks, but that’s what they call them. There were also mosquitoes out and about – I don’t know how, there is no water around.
Tomorrow we leave the State Forest and cross into Tejon Ranch Country until we hit Hwy 138, which is our end point. The Ranch goes further on but we will stop. We have to walk the perimeter of their land since they don’t want hikers on their land. PCT hikers can’t camp, have fires, smoke or leave the trail at all for the 7 miles while they are on the Tejon Ranch.
Miles for the day: 9.5 Total miles: 536.2
Highest elevation for the day: 5600 feet Lowest elevation for the day: 3800 feet
Our last day and we had to walk through the private land of the Tejon Ranch. It was quite amusing how the trail would exactly follow their barbed wire fence. We still had beautiful views and at the end of the trail (for us), as we approached Hwy 138 it was like being out on the prairie. It was primarily grass and the wind just blew and blew. I found out later that the wind almost always blows. On the trail we had some uncharacteristically steep ups and downs, but it wasn’t too bad.
We ended in Hikertown, on Hwy 138. No one was there, but John looked around and found a PCT register so we were pretty sure we were in the right place. We took a shower and as we were sitting around, Jerod, who worked there showed up and then Richard, the owner showed up. He is quite a guy. He owns a home with his wife Roberta, in Palos Verdes. We probably biked right near his home when we biked in California. He owns at least 1 company, and 2 ranches, I think in the area of Hikertown. He is also on the governator’s (Arnie’s) committee for smog. He was also a producer, and director.
Richard bought this place from a guy who used to allow hikers to stop and get water and spend the night. Richard was not aware of that fact until early one morning he got up and there were like 15 hikers in his yard looking for water. Since then, he has most graciously allowed the hikers to stay, made some wonderful accommodations for them and has fed them and visited with them. He ever has a car (a Kia) for the hikers to use if they need to get stuff. So we went to town and got propane for the grill, got some lightbulbs for Richard and got some food for dinner.
We had a wonderful dinner with Richard. We got to look at all of his cars. That was the main reason that he purchased this place, so that he would have a place to keep all of his cars. He has 2 Rolls Royces, a Ferrari, and probably 10 other different vehicles.
We went and slept in the bunkhouse, got up early in the morning and met Roberta, his wife. Together they had drive to Sacramento to meet with the governor on Monday for a meeting.