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

Friday, April 27, 2018

PCT 18.4 Big Bear to Cajon Pass, 76 PCT miles

While hardly flat, after one big day of climbing out of Big Bear this section gets easier, with many long traverses that make for faster hiking. 

It was the first section where the usual trail traffic seemed to thin out.  Big Bear, is 266 miles into the hike, and some people feel disappointed -- no great epiphanies, just a lot of dusty miles -- and some get off trail.  A French hiker I met made the point by whacking a rock with her trekking pole and exclaiming "this rock is boring."  This made me think of the doctor in Heart of Darkness who observes "... the changes take place inside, you know."  A long distance hike changes your perspective and your reactions, but might not give you much to talk about.  Perhaps it's like meditation in that way.

This is also when over-use injuries start to catch up with hikers.  The first round of blisters are under control, but now hikers are struggling with shin splints, and other foot and joint problems.  Lori, who I started the hike with had to get off trail at Big Bear to take care of her painful heel.  So far I'm holding together.

The highlight of this section was a visit to Deep Creek Hot Springs, which is only about 200 feet from the trail.  We all stripped down and had a good soak before hiking on.

Yesterday was also my first 25 mile day in 2018, and I am tired, but not too sore.  At the end of the day, Lori and Bill picked me up from Cajon Pass, and brought me to their home outside of Barstow for a rest day.  Tomorrow I expect to hike on.

Here are the photos for this section:
Big Bear to Cajon Pass photos

Sunday, April 22, 2018

PCT 18.3 I-10 to Big Bear, 57 PCT miles

Our trail friend Patrick decided to hike on his own starting from this section, so we took a group photo and said goodbye for now.

The trail north from I-10 leads unrelentingly up for several miles, past the Mesa Wind Farm, and then along a ridge where we were kept cool with a light breeze.  Dropping down to the Whitewater Creek drainage we took a short detour to the Whitewater Preserve, which offers PCT hikers clean water and a field for camping.

The next day we climbed up and over a totally dry drainage, and then up onto a ridge.  While we hiked through fierce winds, we got to watch Mt. San Jacinto completely enveloped by thick clouds.  After being nearly blown off the ridge we dropped into the Mission Creek drainage, which we followed over the next ten miles or so, cris-crossing Mission Creek.

The rest of this section was bone dry and we needed to carry water for a dry camp.  Although extremely arid, it was great to traverse the beautiful landscape and enjoy the exotic clouds.

The photos for this section are in an album here:
Photos for I-10 to Big Bear

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

PCT 18.2 Barrel Springs to I-10, 108 PCT miles, April 10 - 17

The rest of my hiking partners had already headed out from the Mountain Valley Retreat hours ago while I enjoyed a long lunch with a friend from San Diego.  Leaving in the mid-afternoon, I hiked the trail into Warner Springs, passing by the wonderfully dramatic Eagle Rock, rolling plains, and a park-like oak forest.  After refilling my water at Warner Springs I hiked on to a campsite six miles on where Mike had stopped for the night.

The next day the forecast was for 100 degrees at Warner Springs, so we got on trail early to climb up into the cooler mountain air.  Arriving at Mike Herrera's in the early afternoon we reunited with Laura and Patrick along with several other hikers in our "bubble."  Off-trail cooked up some wood-fired pizza, giving us all a treat.  After learning that there was a high wind warning Mike, Laura, Patrick and I hunkered down in an "older" RV, getting a great night's sleep.

The next day we hiked all-day in the high desert, with Mike and I stopping just a few miles after the unusual Muir Wood/s stop, set up by a trail angel named Mary.

When Mike and I made it to the paved road around nine the next morning Lori (with new boots) and her husband Bill picked us up and we all enjoyed breakfast at the Paradise Valley Cafe.

Lori, Mike and I got back on trail, climbing up into fields of huge boulders until we stopped at a perfect campsite protected by the wind.  We had to get off trail soon because of a PCT closure up ahead due to the Mountain Fire of a few years ago.  Lori and I went on to Fobes Ranch Trail then hiked down to highway 74.  Mike hiked two miles further to the closure and hiked down Spitler Peak Trail.  From there we all hitched into Idyllwild and enjoyed a cooked meal.

Patrick and Laura were already set up at the State Park Campground, having hitched into Idyllwild from the Paradise Valley Cafe to take care of blisters.  About twenty thru-hikers were at the campground -- read it was a party.  Giggles and Mike bought hot dogs and beer showed up from somewhere, so everyone had fun until late, meaning about 7:30 PM.

The next morning Lori, Patrick, Laura and I went up the Deer Springs Trail while Mike went up the Devil's Slide Trail to get back to the PCT.  This is a huge climb so early in the hike, and even the main trail hits 9,000 feet, adding altitude to the mix.  Lori and I hiked past Fuller Ridge to a slightly sheltered campsite.  Mike, Laura, and Patrick summited Mt. San Jacinto so they all pitched up on Fuller Ridge.  

The following day we all stumped down the north side of the mountain until reaching I-10, where Lori's sister-in-law Diane was waiting to whisk all five of us to her family's house.  As the hikers cleaned up, Diane whipped up spaghetti and meatballs with a huge salad.  We all felt luxuriously satisfied, drifting off inside an actual building.  We will take a zero day here and hike on to Big Bear next.

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

Monday, April 9, 2018

PCT18.1 Campo to Barrel Springs, 101 miles, April 2 - 9, 2018

Trail friend Lori and I decided to set off on a PCT thru-hike on April 2nd.  Lori's husband drove us to the trail and we started off with the inevitable mix of excitement and trepidation.  If you want to follow the adventure of two 60 something hikers, this might be the blog for you.

We had pleasant weather and made it down to Hauser Creek the first night.  Mike and Laura started about the same time from Campo, so we all hiked in together for most of the day.  Giggles was already camped in her "purple condo" so we had fun chatting late into the evening, meaning about 7 PM.

Laura and Mike decided to continue with us, and Patrick joined up at Boulder Oaks, so we ended up with a group of five hiking together.  In the photo album you will see all these personalities, mostly with labels.

Excepting a few windy days, we had great weather.  Flowers were sparse compared to 2017, but we had amazing blossoming agave plants, and we're treated to many small patches of color.

This is a beautiful landscape and great start to the trail.

101 miles in at Barrel Springs we took a day off at the Mountain Valley Retreat, which is a magical stop that welcomes hikers.

Lori developed bad blisters and decided to take a few days off to heal.  Luckily her husband Bill was still nearby and brought fruit pies for everyone and spirited Lori off for a few days.

To see the whole album of photos for this section, take a look here:. Photos for Campo to Barrel Springs