Big Bear to Cajon Pass

We only had a short hike of about 8 miles to ‘Nero’ into Big Bear. It was a beautiful clear morning with a slight breeze and yet there was talk on the trail of some moisture moving into the area with some possible snow at higher elevations. We didn’t expect much of the storm because last time we heard about rain nothing happened.
We got a quick hitch into Big Bear and found a hotel for the night and shortly after arriving our good friend Brando arrived with his mom (who we ran into in Idyllwild) and they brought a bunch of good beer from San Diego! We all went to lunch and then just hung around the hotel and chatted for the afternoon. It’s always so nice to be able to get together with friends and family while out on the trail. Thanks again for visiting!
The following morning we woke to SNOW! The cars in the parking lot were covered, the streets were buried and the mountains on the other side of the lake in the distance were white. How lucky we were to have headed into Big Bear for the night. I almost felt guilty for having spent the night in a warm hotel with a fireplace. It would have been kind of fun to have been out there while it snowed. Cold, but fun.
Today was our zero day and we had made plans to get picked up by Sugarpine’s cousin and taken to Lake Arrowhead for the night. She picked us up at Von’s after we shopped for the next few days of food. While we were waiting, a stranger who had done the PCT years ago offered to buy us some Starbucks and chatted with us for a while about how the trail had changed, why we were on the trail, and life adventures in general. People on the trail are just great!
We took the drive with Kathleen from Big Bear to Lake Arrowhead and there was even more snow on the way out. We arrived at a beautiful house that one of Sugarpine’s relatives own. It felt so nice to be in a real house, and not a hotel. There was even a trail that led to a dock on the lake! We got comfortable while dinner was made and she even treated us to some beer! We worked on making a sign for hitch hiking. We wrote “Hikers to Town” on one side, and “Hikers to Trail” on the other. For dinner we had amazing veggie tacos with quinoa and beans. It was outstanding! We did our laundry, showered and relaxed with Kathleen. We woke up to the smell of veggie sausage, eggs, and coffee. It was so hard to leave after having such a nice day off.
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Kathleen dropped us off at the trail the next morning. After taking two zeros and a nero it was almost painful to hike. Our packs felt heavy and almost foreign. We must have gotten too relaxed in town! The vortex had sucked us in! We started to notice a weird sound a few miles into the trail. It sounded like a heartbeat. What was it?! We hiked a little further. It was techno! But it was coming from deep in the mountains! It was alright at first, but after hiking 18 miles hearing it, and then all through the night, and into the morning wasn’t alright. It never stopped. A few hikers joked about a rave in the mountains, another thought it was accidentally left on at a rental cabin. Either way, we finally hiked far enough to where we couldn’t hear it anymore.

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We hiked along a creek for a couple days. The creek was called Deep Creek, and one of the spots along the creek had hot springs. It was really fun relaxing in the hot springs, then jumping into the cold creek. There were lots of old naked locals, but as more and more PCT hikers arrived, we took over the area and the naked locals covered up. There was even a guy wearing a loin cloth going by the name of Tarzan, who had been living there. We left the hot springs and kept hiking for a few hours before setting up camp for the night.

A few days later we hiked to the 15 freeway were we stopped at McDonalds. We actually ate McDonalds! It had been a long time, but it was actually really good!

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Into the San Jacinto’s

Mama Lingo dropped us off at the trailhead after our stay in Idyllwild. We hiked about 2.5 miles up the Devils Slide Trail to Saddle Junction, where we hooked back up with the PCT. After hiking just a few miles through this environment it reminded us of the Sierras. The trees were big and there was even snow along the trail. We took a side trip up to the top of Mount San Jacinto, the second highest peak in Southern California at 10,834 ft. We had been wanting to do that hike while living in San Diego, and being so close to the trail it was a perfect opportunity. We hiked until the sunset to make it to a camp spot known as “the parking lot.” It’s a big open dirt area that allows you to camp right before the long decent down Fuller Ridge.

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We woke up the next morning ready to hike from the mountains down to the desert floor. It is only 4 miles straight down, but stretched over 16 miles of switchbacks. The ridge consisted of overgrown thorny bushes we had to hike through, which wasn’t fun because it was extremely hot and we were wearing shorts. There was very little shade, but when we did find some we all congregated around it to cool down. Lots of us had our sun umbrellas out as well. A few hikers encountered rattlesnakes, but Lingo and I didn’t see any. When we finally got to the bottom there was a faucet where we all got water. A couple of hikers ran out of water before getting to the faucet, so one of their friends named Choop Choop hiked a bunch of water back UP the ridge to help them. The day wasn’t over for us once we got to the faucet. We still had another few miles to hike to our destination at trail angel’s Ziggy and The Bear’s house. Along the way we were the recipients of some trail magic! We got beer from Lightening Rod’s father in law, Jim.
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We finally got to Ziggy and The Bear’s house around dinner. Their place was so wonderful! We were fed a big salad while sitting on a couch outside where they offered all of us foot soaks! After the soak we were handed warm clean towels so we could take showers in a solar-powered shower house. We set up our sleeping bags outside where their whole backyard is lined with carpet bolted to the ground so everyone could “cowboy camp.” Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, we were offered a heaping bowl of ice cream. I got cookies n cream! It was such a wonderful end to a long tough day. I am very appreciative to have gotten to stay there.

The next morning we left and hiked through a wind farm. The sky was overcast, and the windmills looked pretty as they turned. This day there were lots of winding trails, and it reminded me of some of Dr. Seuss’s drawings in The Places You’ll Go. We stopped for lunch at a place called Whitewater Preserve. It used to be a trout farm, but now the trout just swim around in big man-made ponds. The park had grassy lawn, picnic tables, water, and a bathroom! What a nice surprise being in the desert. The hike up the windy hills after lunch was tough though. It was so windy we could barely walk! We got to our destination at Mission Creek around 4pm, filtered water, and set up our tent. It was so nice to get there early and be able to relax! It was warm that night, so Lingo and I zipped our bags together so we could cuddle!

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The next day we hiked 15 miles to Mission Springs Trail camp where we would be filling up our water before another long dry stretch. It was around 5:30pm when we were about to leave and hike another 5 miles to make it a 20 mile day. We each had about 5 liters of water. We started to hike out when we realized Lingo had water dripping from the bottom of his backpack. When we finally opened his backpack the platypus (water reservoir) had broke at the seam. Water leaked down the inside of his pack and got on his down sleeping bag, tent, and jacket. It was going to get dark in a couple of hours, and it was more important to get his sleeping bag dry before nightfall than to hike another 5 miles. We tried to dry everything out before bed. The temperature started to drop, and there was a crisp cool breeze. Lots of other hikers got to camp as we were getting in bed. We were kind of grouchy and unsocial because of the water and lack of more mileage for the day. We thought it would cheer is up to zip our sleeping bags together again, so we did. Bad idea. It was so cold that night that all of our water bottles froze. Our bags, since zipped together, weren’t able to cinch tightly around our necks to keep the heat from escaping. Our breath created condensation on the inside of our tent because of the cold, and the condensation then turned to frost. The frost started to melt and then drip all over our sleeping bags! I was freezing! We noticed all this around 4 am, and were too tired to do anything. We woke up an hour later, and strapped our wet tent to the outside of our backpack. At lunch later that day we took out our tent and sleeping bags to dry in the sun.

That day we hiked past the “animal cages.” I was looking forward to seeing the animals. They are celebrity animals! Boy was that also a bad idea! It was so depressing when we hiked by. In teeny tiny cages I saw a grizzly bear. It was hot out, and he had no shade. He sat slumped over, and looked very depressed. It made me upset to see such a magnificent creature in a cage. We hiked on. We came across a big tool box with “pct magic” written in spray paint. We opened it up and there was soda and a log book! We sat on the very convenient couch located there on the side of the trail and enjoyed the treats! We camped about 10 miles outside of the highway leading to Big Bear that night.

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The next morning we hiked to the highway. It would be our first real road hitch. We took off our hats and sunglasses, and put on big friendly smiles. Lingo stuck his thumb out while I waved. It took about 12 cars but we got a ride into Big Bear Lake! A hotel, shower, pizza, and friends from San Diego would be in town that day. It was a great day!

Joshua trees!

Idyllwild

We got dropped off at the ranger station in Idyllwild since it was a central location in the tiny little mountain town. When we got to town Rob and Rocket Llama had already gotten a room at the a Silver Pines Lodge and offered us a to stay with them to help lower the cost. We gladly accepted since Mama Lingo wouldn’t be to town till the next day to spoil us for a double zero.

On the way over to the hotel we ran into Troll and Medicine Man and we were very excited to see them. They informed is that Medicine would be taking on the 5lb Burger challenge at the Lumber Mill, so we agreed to meet up later for some cheap hiker entertainment.

Medicine Man doing the 5lb burger challange

Medicine Man doing the 5lb burger challange

Rocket Llama and Rob

Rocket Llama and Rob

We spent the day wandering around this very hiker friendly town, eating, drinking coffee and running into other people we have seen on trail. The pizza place gave a thru hiker discount which was really nice.

Some hiker trash

Some hiker trash

Rocket Llama, Micaela aka Teddy Rose, and Sugarpine

Rocket Llama, Micaela aka Teddy Rose, and Sugarpine

When we went to witness Medicine Man take on the challenge of the 5lb burger, there was about a dozen other hikers that turned out as well. Some of us ordered food while others enjoyed a beer or two. It provided cheap entertainment while he was timed to finish his burger. The only thing left of the burger was the large bun with avocado spread. Since he didn’t finish, some of us chipped in a little to help him pay off his $45 burger debt.
Mama Lingo came to town the day after and we checked into our our room at the Idyllwild inn. We spent a double zero resting, enjoying our cabin, went to the pizza place again and even cooked a meal the second night back at the cabin. She brought us Easter basket goodies, and Epsom salts for our foot soaks! We spent the day relaxing in front of the fireplace and catching up with Mama Lingo about our adventures. Another friendly face we ran into was my friend Brando’s mom! It was so nice to see someone we knew in a trail town.

Nothing better than San Diego beer!

Nothing better than San Diego beer!

Overall our first trail town experience was spectacular. The town was so friendly, we saw people we hadn’t seen in a while, we left rested and got totally spoiled by Mama Lingo-Trail Wizard extraordinaire!

Leaving Warner Springs

After leaving Warner Springs, we climbed up into the mountains to trail angel Mike Hererra’s house. The hike was long and hot, with hardly any wind. I developed a rash from the Warner Springs laundry detergent, and felt pretty exhausted by the time we made to Mike’s. There we refilled our water, got a Tecate, set up our tent, and were fed dinner. They were very conscious of vegetarians, and out Boca Burger crumbles in our spaghetti instead of meat. Thanks!

The mountains that morning

The mountains that morning

Sign outside of Mike Herrera's

Sign outside of Mike Herrera’s

The next day we dropped back into the desert. It was another vey hot long day, but we took a long lunch break at a water source that had shade. This water source had a hose to get our water, so it was easy and convenient! I even soaked my hair to help cool down. There were multiple hikers hanging out, trying to beat the heat. It was probably one of the hottest days so far. We pushed up some mountains, and a mile before we stopped for the night, I was getting really tired. The path had lots of black sticks, and I totally hit one while walking, except this stick moved! It wasn’t a stick after all.. It was a snake! He was big, and very wiggly and snake like. It startled me so much a started to cry. It wasn’t a rattlesnake, and I’m not even scared of snakes because I’ve seen so many. I was just super startled.

Snacks

Snacks

Trying to stay cool

Trying to stay cool

We found a wonderful spot to camp that night on a ridge between some boulders. It was my favorite spot we’ve camped so far. It was warm that night, and the sunset was beautiful. We made mac n cheese with “chicken” and some Tapatio.

The next morning we only had to hike about 8 miles to the famous Paradise Valley Cafe. Two bikers out on the patio were amazed by our packs, and asked us lots of questions. They thought what we were doing was so neat. One of he bikers mentioned a tattoo he got with his daughter, and it said “embrace the journey of life.” I felt a warming in my heart, because on my mom’s memorial we have engraved a saying she loved, “embrace the journey.” I didn’t tell the biker how happy it made me, but I felt my moms presence, and it was really nice. Lingo and I went inside to eat. He got the Jose Burger with a veggie patty, and jalapeños, and I got a burger with chutney and chipotle mayo. Yum! We signed the PCT log book. The plan was to hitch into Idyllwild because of a trail closure due to a bad fire. Upon leaving to go hitch a ride, a really sweet couple offered to drive us! They were very friendly, and we had a great conversation while they drove us to Idyllwild. Thanks James and Phyllis!

Yum!

Yum!

The couple that gave us a ride

The couple that gave us a ride

Zero Day!

We enjoyed the next day in Warner Springs by not hiking any miles, our first “Zero Day” of the trip. The community center has a great set up during the thru hiker season to help us out. We enjoyed a great pancake breakfast that mooring when they opened up. The guy cooking was nice enough to swap out our sausage for an extra pancake because we’re vegetarian. Breakfast came with eggs, which was a gamble because neither of us like eggs. Turns out after 100 miles on the trail eggs are GREAT!

It was so windy that a baby bird had fallen out of the tree. We all sat around watching the bird. It was “hiker tv.” He wasn’t able to fly yet, so he hopped over to Troll.

Breakfast

Breakfast

A baby bird found shelter between Troll's feet

A baby bird found shelter between Troll’s feet

Lingo and Troll helped put the baby bird back in the tree

Lingo and Troll helped put the baby bird back in the tree

We had to get our resupply package from the post office when they opened and there was a guy helping shuttle hikers back and forth. Troll hooked it up with two cans of TVP which is a fake meat substitute high in protein, both chicken and beef flavor! Thanks Troll. After we all got our resupply boxes we sat in the lawn in a circle and pretended we were opening Christmas presents. Some trading went on between us, and some of us sent ourselves too much food, which we then donated into the “hiker box.”

We took advantage of the wifi and updated a few blog posts while the sweet volunteers washed a load of laundry for us. When the clothes came out they smelled so good! Unfortunately Sugarpine is allergic to perfumed liquid laundry detergent, and had forgotten to ask what detergent they use to wash the clothes. She broke out the next day in a horrible rash.

We hung out on the lawn all day socializing and relaxing with all the hikers. It felt really good to rest our aching muscles.

Day 7

Seven days in and we were up at sunrise again near the Third Gate water cache. As we broke camp, Troll was on his way out and wished us well, and Rob, Michaela and Happy feet were all waking up and taking down their tents as well. Michaela came over to say good morning with a gallon size freezer bag full of oreos for breakfast, perfect hiker fuel. We had some water to get from the water cache before heading toward the next water source at Barrel Spring. While at the water cache we met a new crew of guys and a gal that cowboy camped near the water. They were nice and greeted us and suspected it was the crew that rolled in late the prior night. They had just finished the Appalachian Trail and were very lively.

Micaela with her Oreo breakfast

Micaela with her Oreo breakfast

Hiking out that day had a climb out and back to the trail that skirted the San Felipe hills until dropping in elevation down to Barrel Spring. We passed a few people on the way, some weekenders that had some dogs and some people we camped near at the Third Gate water cache. Before hitting the water source we passed our first important milestone. The 100 mile marker!!!

100 Miles! Woo!

100 Miles! Woo!

At Barrel Spring we filtered a few liters of water ate some lunch and met up with some people that we had met on the trail and we even met some new people. It seems like everyday we’ve been on trail we have had the opportunity to meet some new people, and they have all been great.

After about an hour lunch break we started to head onward to Warner Springs for the night,which has a Community Center set up that helps the thru hikers with Breakfast and Lunch, Laundry, Showers and a place to set up a tent for the night. The scenery really changed from the San Felipe hills with a steep drop to rolling grass hills with oak trees bordering the edges. Some hikers have said that this was their favorite part of the trail. It had beautiful flowers, and a really cozy feeling. We hit Eagle Rock about two hours before sundown and decided to wait for Rob, Michaela and Rocket Llama that were just a little behind us. Eagle Rock is a big rock outcropping that when you walk around the backside of looks like an eagle with wings outstretched.

The flowers in the rolling hills

The flowers in the rolling hills

Lingo hanging out in front of Eagle Rock

Lingo hanging out in front of Eagle Rock

Warner Springs!!

Warner Springs!!

After our break at Eagle Rock we started the last of our day to the community center to set up camp and we started discussing the idea of taking our first “Zero Day” the following day to rest up a bit. The last few miles felt like they took forever to get to camp and we made it their with about half an hour to spare before the sunset. We were greeted by Troll at the community center with a box of pizza and offered us all a slice. We got to finally meet Medicine Man, who hikes with a full Wilderness EMT first aid kit and is a hiking machine. We set up our tent, made some dinner, took a bird bath in the restrooms and chatted it up with the others camped in the lawn outside the community center and were done for the day by 9pm.

Day 5

We started out by filtering some water out of the horse trough at about 6:30am to a gorgeous sunrise to the east of us. There was a sign warning us of non-cosumable water for horse consumption only. But a hikers gotta get their water somehow in the desert. Rob and Troll were about 15 minutes ahead of us leaving camp and Michaela was bringing up the rear. The plan for the day was to make it to the next water source at Rodriguez fire tank and figure it out from there. On the maps there was some campsite between the fire tank and Scissors Crossings at mile 77. Sugarpine and I were feeling ambitious for the day and wanted to go all the the way and maybe get a hitch into Julian for the night, rest up and take care of some blisters but we would have to see.

Chas after breaking camp

Chas after breaking camp

Chas

Chas

Again the hike was beautiful with a view down into Anza Borrego and then we made a drastic drop down into Chariot Canyon and it was already heating up by about 9am. We stopped to snack, let our feet cool down and slather on some sunscreen before continuing on as it was heating up. Sugarpine had to change into shorts and put some Desatin on her chafe. After about 2 miles we ran into Rob and Troll who had also decided to take a little break but only a little bit ahead of us. We said Hi and would continue on to the fire tank. it was really warm by the time we got there, we were able to filter a few liters of water and find a shady spot to take a little rest for about an hour or two. Just as we were about to start putting our shoes back on Michaela made it to the fire tank and we started to brainstorm on what we should do for the evening.

Best Corn Nuts ever!

Best Corn Nuts ever!

We called some hotels in Julian to see if space was available if we did continue on for another 8 miles or so to Scissors Crossings to make the hitch up the hill for the night. Turns out everything in town was full because it was a Friday. So then it hit me, I got the idea to call the best trail wizard I know of, MOM!!! She said she would love to come pick us and our new friends up and let us shower and do some laundry and then shuttle us back to the trail the next morning. We were so excited!

The amazing view as we approached the desert

The amazing view as we approached the desert

The whole way down to Scissors Crossing we were talking about the fun night ahead of us at home. We strategically planned how we would first go to the grocery store and do a little resupply, then pick up dinner, then go home to do laundry, shower, and soak our feet. Sugarpine and I really wanted cheap pizza so we thought of Little Caesars. When Rob and Micaela met up with us they said they had been craving “slutty food, like Little Caesars.” How perfect! We all wanted Little Caesars! The funny thing is, is that in our normal lives none of us like to eat that crap. Must be a starving hiker thing.

Beautiful desert flowers

Beautiful desert flowers

Sugarpine spotted this guy

Sugarpine spotted this guy

He was a big one! Poor guy was scared of us though

He was a big one! Poor guy was scared of us though

Some more beautiful flowers

Some more beautiful flowers

When we got to Scissors Crossing it was 6pm and my Mom was waiting for us. As we approached her, we each hugged her and were amazed at how good she smelled. She smelled wonderful! I guess we just all stunk so bad, and were used to each other’s stinky stench for the last 5 days. We piled into her car, and had to roll down the windows for the drive into town.

It was close to 7pm when we got to the grocery store. We hadn’t had time to clean up before town like hikers should. We hobbled into the store, dirty, smelly, and limping. We looked homeless. We were hobbling around the store, staring at all the candy and food. I think people thought we were on drugs or something. We got such weird stares. I guess it’s because it’s not a town that gets thru-hikers, so our “hiker style” looked foreign.

After the grocery store, we went to Little Caesars and each ordered our own pizza and side of crazy bread. We went home, each took a shower, and sat on the front porch. My mom and little brother filled up tubs of hot water and epsom salts for each of us. We sat on the porch, pizza in lap, feet soaking, resting after our 17 miles we just hiked. We were finally clean and full. What a long day we had, and what a wonderful way to end it!

Rob and Micaela soaking there feet

Rob and Micaela soaking their feet

Sugarpine and Chas soaking their feet

Sugarpine and Chas soaking their feet

Day 6

It was so nice waking up in a cozy bed, with our own bed sheets. It was so hard to imagine getting dropped off back outside soon. We all sat in a circle, separating our clean laundry. We packed our bags, and loaded them into the car. Chas’ mom, Peggy, drove us to Starbucks, where we each indulged in a yummy drink and pastry. I got a tall iced double soy caramel macchiato with a little extra caramel, and a slice of pumpkin loaf. Mmm!!!

Our hiker trash friends

Our hiker trash friends

Peggy drove us back to Scissors Crossings, and all of us had butterflies in our tummies again. We were nervous! But why? We were just out on the trail the last five days, feeling fine. But something about the comfort of home and town made us question why we would make ourselves go back out there, with blisters, and the heat, and cold, hiking all day long.

The posse with Momma Lingo

The posse with Momma Lingo

When we got out of the car it was so windy! We hiked under the bridge at Scissors Crossings. At the time we went through there, there was a couch under the bridge. The trail angel who maintains the water cache for hikers there was upset that there was a couch, and refused to refill the water. I have to admit, the couch made it look trashy, and I understand why it would make him angry. However, since it was there, we sat on it while waiting for each other to sign the PCT log book.

Micaela and Rob at Scissors Crossings

Micaela and Rob at Scissors Crossings

Something special happened at Scissors Crossings, Chas got his trail name! Being from San Diego, and also being the silly guy he is, he has some slang he uses when he talks. Whenever he uses the slang, people laugh, and ask what he means. He says things such as “Smashin,” “Burnin,” “Crushin-it,” “Choppin it up,” “Posse Out,” etc. It always makes Rob and Micaela laugh because of all his lingo. So that’s what they started calling him- Lingo! So, I dubbed Chas at Scissors Crossings on the couch, with my trekking pole.

Sugarpine dubbing Lingo

Sugarpine dubbing Lingo

Lingo and Rob

Lingo and Rob

Beautiful ocotillo

Beautiful ocotillo

Yummy pizza lunch!

Yummy pizza lunch!

After that we made our hike up the San Felipe Hills. The Starbucks and clean clothes helped a lot with the first half of our day. We were all pumped up as we hiked the first 10 miles. I can’t even describe how windy it was. Well, let me try to. The wind was so strong that I was scared to lift both my trekking poles off the ground at the same time. We had to use extra force with each step just to make it forward. The wind would then stop, and we would get to hike at a faster pace. But then it would pick up in a second, at full force, throwing you almost off the side of the trail and into the cactus below. We took a lunch break and ate our leftover pizza. The second half of the day though was long, and it felt like we were hiking forever. We only saw one other hiker the whole day, which was sort of weird. When we finally made it to the water source at Third Gate, I hurt so bad. My left knee and right ankle hurt. I had the “hiker hobble” big time. When we arrived at the water source, there were lots of other hikers sitting around and cooking dinner together. We found a spot big enough for our two person tent, but all the spots up there were pretty exposed and super windy. There was old rusty barbed wire around our spot, and Lingo almost fell into it while putting up the tent. We got into the tent, and I cleaned up my chafe. It hurt so bad. We put on warmer clothes and went over to Troll’s spot where everyone was eating dinner. We ate with Happy Feet, Rob, Micaela, and Rocket Llama. I made couscous for dinner, with tapatio and mixed some fresh veggies from town (which I cut up with my teeth and spit into my cook pot since i didn’t have a knife.) It was so tasty. It got really cold, and I my body hurt really bad. Once we got into our tent to go to sleep I broke down and started crying for the first time on the PCT. I’m not sure why exactly.. maybe I was just overwhelmed. Lingo told me how great I had been hiking, along with other sweet things, and it made me feel a little better. I was almost asleep around 9pm when everyone was woken up to a loud crew of hikers shouting “Water! Where’s the water?” and “Turtle!?” Troll pointed them in the direction of the water, and that was then end of that, or so I thought..

Day 4

We slept in until about 8am at the Laguna Campground after spending the prior night hiking and didn’t make it in until about 11:45. The plan for the day was to get a shower at the campground and then start hiking to the Sunrise Trailhead area for the night. As we were making our coffee and breakfast with Rob and Michaela the host came buy to collect some fees for the prior night since we didn’t pay upon entering. He was very understanding that we didn’t pay when we got there so we payed the steep $22 dollar a night rate, which has gone up by two dollars since being there last. He was nice enough to even bring all of my change back in quarters so we could all get a shower before heading out. Rob and Michaela were on their way up the trail by 10 am and we told them we would meet then about halfway to our destination at the Pioneer Mail picnic area. Sugarpine and myself took turns taking showers and laying some clothes out in the sun to dry that we also washed while we were in the shower. It was super refreshing to get a shower, even only being 4 days into this long trip. 

As we were heading out of the campground we met “George” who was lightning fast and had already logged close 15 miles and was looking for a shower himself. Then as we got close to Sunrise Highway we spotted Buddy Backpacker and his mom walking into campground looking for some shade and showers. Buddy is 6 years old out hiking the PCT with his mom and has already done Appalachian Trail last year. We were back on the PCT at around 11:30 am which was a little late but we were feeling great after sleeping in and a shower. This area that we were hiking in is the same route we took for our full moon hikes up to Garnet Peak. On the way to Pioneer Mail picnic area we chatted with a guy named Eric who was out to hike for 30 hours straight to celebrate his 30th birthday that day. We haven’t seen him since and can only assume we was successful. 

The beautiful view of the desert

The beautiful view of the desert

Does this look familiar? It's Garnet Peak where we do our full moon hikes

Does this look familiar? It’s Garnet Peak where we do our full moon hikes

Sugarpine and Chas

Sugarpine and Chas

After getting to the picnic area in the early afternoon we hung out with Rob and Michaela and had some snacks and enjoyed a beautiful water cache which had some warm Gatorades, which are just as delicious on a hot day! Troll, who we briefly met while hiking out of Laguna was there taking a long lunch also. Troll has done both the AT and the PCT and is back for more. He hikes in a kilt and sandals and is so friendly and full of wisdom. Also another man by the name of “Santa’s Helper” was hanging around the picnic area riding out the heat before continuing on. He is a southern gentleman who has done the AT in the past and is super friendly as well.

Some trail magic! We got Gatorade!

Some trail magic! We got Gatorade!

Mile 55!

Mile 55!

It was time to start heading for our destination for the evening so we could make it before sundown so we headed north. It had just started to cool down and we made the short climb up to Kwaayami Point and then it was a fairly flat hike with a sudden drop to our right all the way down to the Anza Borrego Desert floor. Sugarpine and I did a portion of this hike back on Valentines day to about mile 56 which had some potential for wind protection from large boulders for a night of camping. We decided to press on past this point and make it to about mile 59.5 where the spur trail to Sunrise trailhead was. The sun was starting to set and we saw Troll again sitting at the spur making his dinner for the night. There was a water cache there, but all the jugs were empty. He decided to head over to the area to make camp with us. We saw a fire tank and a horse trough with would be our water source for the evening and the next day heading out. It was windy and we found some shelter in the hills to the south of the tank. One other person was already set up for the evening, It was George! We never even saw him pass us on trail after his shower at the campground! We all set up our tents and Troll cowboy camped under the stars! While making our dinner Troll came to chat with us about how the PCT has changed, and general concerns we had about the trail and he was more than happy to answer our questions. One of the nicest guys we’ve met out here so far! We were all in bed by 9 PM to get ready for our next big day down to Rodriguez fire tank, and maybe Scissors Crossings at Mile 77!

Our little posse, Sugarpine, Chas, Rob, and Micaela

Our little posse, Sugarpine, Chas, Rob, and Micaela

Sunrise Trailhead

Sunrise Trailhead

Micaela and Rob talking to Mike while he filters his water

Micaela and Rob talking to Mike while he filters his water

Day 3

Day three would be our friend Matt’s last day on the trail with us and we were sad to see him go. Good thing it was a pretty epic day. We woke up at Cibbets Flat at around 6am and started breaking camp and making our breakfasts. By 7am or so we would be making the climb back up to the PCT and heading North toward Mt Laguna, which holds a special place in our hearts because its our favorite local place to hike, and the place we had our realization that we would actually make hiking the PCT happen this year.

Yikes!

Yikes!

Almost to the lodge

Almost to the lodge

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I see the desert!

I see the desert!

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This was a big caterpillar!

This was a big caterpillar!

The hike for the day climbed steadily toward Mount Laguna until we reached the Mount Laguna Recreation Area and we started to see and smell the pine trees. By Mile 43 we exited at Desert View Picnic area and made a short road walk to the Lodge to pick up our resupply package. Everybody indulged in frozen pizza and burritos on the porch of the lodge, and Matt bought us popsicle’s. Chelsea’s friend Katie came up to see us while we were at the lodge and brought us cookies! It was so great to see a familiar face, even just after 3 days. THANKS KATIE!!!! Matt got picked up and it was sad to see him go, but having a friend for the first few days was a great part of this experience and we have missed him since!

Our first resupply!

Our first resupply!

Matt waiting for his ride

Matt waiting for his ride

Twice, Micaela, Chance, Rob, Chelsea, and Chas

Twice, Micaela, Chance, Rob, Chelsea, and Chas

Katie and Chelsea

Katie and Chelsea

We hung out and reloaded our packs until about 3:30pm when Super at the Laguna Mountain Sport and Supply would be doing a “Shakedown” of everybody’s packs to try to loose some overall weight. He was able to shake about 2lbs from each of our packs. It doesn’t sound like much, but for 2663 miles it adds up.
We didn’t get done with the shake down until about 7pm and we were really antsy to get some more miles in since we had only done 10 and had rested for the afternoon. So we decided with Rob and Michaela that we would hike through the night to the Laguna Campground at around Mile 48. We left Super’s and went and made some dinner at the Desert View Picnic area in the dark and were back on the trail around 9pm.

So many of these guys!

So many of these guys!

Hiking in the dark is a totally different experience, with a headlamp you can only see so far, and yet you see things you wouldn’t in the day. We saw many toad out on the trail and even the silhouette of an owl on top of a tree in an area recently burned. The burn area was especially eerie at night. A few months ago at the junction of the PCT and the Big Laguna Trail Chelsea left a large pinecone hidden so she could find it when we through hiked the PCT. We stopped for a break at this junction and she found her pinecone. This event led to her getting her trail name; “Sugarpine”

Sugar Pine with the pinecone from new years day!

Sugar Pine with the pinecone from new years day!

We rolled into the Laguna Campground at about 11:45 and the temperature really dropped by the time we got there. At this point it felt like a death march and we couldn’t wait to get into our sleeping bags. We made it through the freezing night and were thankful that we did make it another 5 miles ahead that night..