Opening Statement

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach
~Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Monday, June 19, 2017

PCT 8 - Cruising and Climbing - Big Bear to Idyllwild - 87 PCT miles

Coon Creek Historic Cabins

This was the section where I finally felt like my "hiking legs" had returned, bringing to mind a quotation from "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind," "just like thread unwinding from a spool, I want the past to become present."  In a sense, this is a hike backward through time, as day by day I hike off accumulated stress (and fat) and my fitness returns to a level that I once could take almost for granted.  Right now my fitness is similar to what I remember in my 40's.  That works out to about one year for every 50 miles hiked, so at that rate I'll have the energy of a two year old by the end of the summer.

View from the Top of Mt. San Jacinto

The big event of this section was the climb from my camp spot in the desert at the base of Mt. San Jacinto at an elevation of 1,730 feet to the peak of Mt. San Jacinto at an elevation of 10,833 feet.  Worrying that I might get caught in the heat, I started the climb at 5 AM, carrying five liters of water against a 20 mile stretch to the next reliable water source.  My timing was good since by the time the day got hot on the desert floor, I was already above 5,000 feet and enjoying cooler weather.  I camped at 8,350 feet, for a net increase of 6,620 feet that day, and hiked on to the summit the next morning.  For comparison, the Bright Angel trail from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the Colorado river has an elevation change of 4,380, so my first-day climb covered over 50% more elevation increase.  I was tired, but felt satisfied that I could cover that much elevation in a day.

Cool Weather Again up on Mt. San Jacinto

My first night into this section I made it to the Coon Creek historic cabins and was the sole visitor that night.  The San Gorgonio Wilderness was very beautiful and still had plenty of water, making it even more enjoyable.  It was also interesting to pass by the exotic animal cages of the Predators in Action company, although a bit sad as well since these animals have limited space to live in.

With my hike down Devil's Slide trail into Idyllwild, I've now completed the trail between Campo at the Mexican Border and the Kennedy Meadows Campground at mile 704.  I saw very few Northbound hikers in the last few days, and was also the only camper at the State Park campground in Idyllwild.  A friend that lives nearby came to Idyllwild to pick me up, and I went back home via Amtrak.

My plan is to get back on trail at mile 1232.33, which means temporarily skipping over the Sierras and hiking at lower elevations for awhile due to the snow.

Here's a link to the photos for this section:

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

PCT 7 - Baking and Soaking - Cajon Junction to Big Bear -76 PCT miles

Deep Creek Hot Spring

Hiking into the deep creek drainage, the trail has little shade, and many hikers try to find an overhanging boulder to wait out the hottest hours of the day.  Even though I knew it was close, there was an exotic and fantastical transition as the trail dipped down to the water and surrounding  shade from nearby trees.  It felt like a different reality.  I stripped down and both swam in the river and joined the bathers for a few minutes in one of the hot pools.

This 76 mile section was my return to the trail after an 18 day rest due to knee pain.  I was eager to be back on trail, and found the miles easier than expected.  Although this section was hot, there was also relatively good access to water, so it wasn't as difficult as some parts of the Mojave.

Hiking Southbound has opened a window into the different types of hikers on the trail.  When I was near Kennedy Meadows, I met some of the fastest and fittest hikers on the trail, while now it's more of an average group, with even a few slow hikers thrown into the mix.

Since I stopped carrying a dedicated camera, these pictures are all from my smartphone :

Saturday, June 3, 2017

PCT 6.1 - Back to the trail!

After two weeks off trail my knee started to feel much better, and I booked an Amtrak ticket to Victorville, just 18 miles from where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses I-15 near Cajon Pass.  I'm enjoying a rumbling ride on the rails right now.  Tomorrow I should be back on the PCT.  If all goes well, my next update will be five days later from Big Bear Lake.

Thanks for the moral support.   I appreciated the messages and encouragement.