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

Advertisements

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

IMG_9338[1]

I see the desert!

I see the desert!

IMG_9340[1]

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..

Caves, Creeks, and Camping

What we’ve been up to lately:

Desert sunrise

Desert sunrise from our tent 🙂

Wilderness First Aid

The last weekend of February we spent all day Saturday and Sunday taking a Wilderness First Aid class hosted by the NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute at the Encinitas REI. This was a 16 hour course that got us both certifications in WFA and can hopefully help us out on the trail if anything medically unforeseen may happen. In the class we learned:

  • Patient Assessment System
  • Evacuation Plans and Emergency Procedures
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Shock
  • Head Injuries
  • Wilderness Wound Management
  • Athletic Injuries
  • Fracture Management
  • Dislocations
  • Cold Injuries
  • Heat Illness
  • Altitude Illness
  • Lightning
  • The Medical Patient
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Wilderness First Aid Kits
Taping up a sprained ankle

Taping up a sprained ankle

The class itself was fun and informative. We’d like to take the next level in the future, which certifies you to be a Wilderness First Responder and goes into more detail with each topic.

Agua Caliente Creek

The first weekend out of our apartment felt like the perfect opportunity to go on a hike along the PCT. Agua Caliente Creek is in Warner Springs. It is close enough to where we’re staying, but just far enough to feel like you’re away from it all. It was a really mellow part of the trail that went along a creek. It was a drizzly day, right after a little storm started to clear up. We saw a NOBO (Northbound) hiker today. We also saw a wide variety of PCT signs along this hike, so we thought it would be fun to share them with you!

All color, no black

All color, no black

All black, no color

All black, no color

Super huge sign

Super huge sign

This one's just a sticker

This one’s just a sticker

Super faded sign

Super faded sign

Wooden sign

Wooden sign

Day in the Desert

We love the desert, and try to go there often. Knowing that we’re leaving town, we’ve been trying to do all the things we’ve been wanting to. We accomplished three of those in one trip out to the desert!

Anza Borrego

Anza Borrego

1) Mud caves: We’ve been wanting to check these out for quite some time now. The caves are found along the walls of the wash canyon. The mud caves in our desert are one of the most extensive mud cave systems in the world. There are close to 22 known caves, and 9 slot canyons.

IMG_0090

Informational sign

“The mud caves are formed by fluvial erosion caused during periods of heavy rainfall.  When this infrequent rainfall occurs, it cuts channels into the mud hills that are commonly found in the Pseudokarst topography of this arid region.  The channels cause erosion and form canyons with unstable and undercut walls.  As the channels deepen, the walls cave in.  Because of the cohesive consistency of the mud in this particular area and its ability to swell to several times its original dry volume, it adheres to itself and to the canyon walls, creating natural bridges and, sometimes caves, as it dries,” – desertusa.com

IMG_0093

Chelsea exploring

IMG_0098

Chas exploring

2) Camping in Blair Valley:

After exploring the mud caves the sun began to quickly set over the mountains to the west so we decided we needed to find a spot to set up camp for the night. We came prepared to hike into camp somewhere if we had more time but the sun was setting too fast. We drove back up the road to a place called Blair Valley that has primitive camping that is totally free! We found a spot that was hugged up against a rocky mountain side and behind a large rock for some wind protection and we could also sit on top of it to watch the stars that night. Once we got our tent set up we cooked up some Kraft Mac & Cheese on our Jetboil and substituted olive oil for the dairy. This was a chance for us to try cooking up a meal that will be pretty common while on the PCT. After the sun set the temperature immediately started to drop, so we cooked up some hot cocoa, looked up at the stars and watched all the satellites whizz by overhead. We were in our cozy sleeping bags in our tent by 8pm! Going to bed early meant we were able to get up at 5:30 to make some coffee and watch the sun rise. It was a really cold morning and some moisture had built up on the outside of our tent and we even had some condensation build up on the inside, we had no idea it could get so wet out in the desert! Camp was broken down by 9am and we were on our way to do some more exploring that day.

photo 1

Chas making our morning coffee

photo 2

Chas with our french press, watching the sunrise

photo 3

Mmm coffee!

photo 5

Our camp kitchen

3) Pictographs: In Blair Valley there is a trail that leads you to ancient Indian pictographs. We attempted to hike the trail late last summer, but there were bees everywhere! This time the bees weren’t a problem. The trail is only about 1 mile each direction, and is an out-and-back. Over 50 Native American rock art sites have been found in Anza-Borrego. The ones along this trail have little-known meaning, though some people think it represents adolescent rites, solstice rituals, and vision quests. Pretty neat!

Chelsea with the pictographs

Chelsea with the pictographs

So that is what we’ve been up to the last couple weeks! Stay tuned for another update in the next few days.

Valentine’s Camping

IMG_84971

Our Tent

Chas and I went camping in Mount Laguna last week. We camped the same night that we met our friends for a full moon hike. We love the Laguna Campground, so it was the perfect place to camp and celebrate Valentines Day. We finally got to test a lot of our gear too!

What kind of gear did we test?

Tarptent Double Rainbow

IMG_85121

Our tent

(Features from Tarptent.com)

  • Free-standing (with trekking poles) or staked
  • Hybrid bathtub floor — clip / unclip floor walls for splash, space, views, and airflow
  • Dual netting doors for views, airflow, and insect resistance; bug proof when zipped up Dual beaks shield rain, provides gear storage
  • Fast setup — 2 minutes from sack to pitched
  • Small packed size — removable strut for stuffing
  • Taut pitch resists wind, sag, and storms; integrated line tighteners
  • Reflective spectra cord guylines included

Therm-a-rest Z Lite Sol Sleeping Pad

IMG_84911

Sleeping bags, Z Lite pads, and my sleeping pants

Chas has been using his for awhile, but it was my first time. It in no way compares to our super comfy bed, but  it offers a little more cushioning than sleeping on the ground does. Why the Z Lite? It’s ultralight and easy to pack. Some hikers cut 1/4 of it off to save weight (and just use an empty pack for padding under their feet.)

  • Fold up easily like an accordion.
  • Has heat trapping “dimples”
  • ThermaCapture™ coating that reflects radiant heat (this is supposed to increase warmth by 20%)
  • Foams are softer on top for extra comfort and denser on the bottom for extra durability.
  • Ultralight
  • Weighs 10 oz.
  • Made in USA

Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20 Degree Down Sleeping Bag

We’ve already used these bags a few times. We bought these for each other as Christmas presents. I love this bag! We used our clothing “stuff sacks” as pillows.

  • Weighs 1 lb 13 oz
  • 16 oz down fill
  • Rated for temperatures down to 20 degrees
  • Full down collar to help trap heat around your neck

Sleepwear 

For sleeping we each have a set of long underwear, or a base layer. This consists of a top and bottoms. We chose to use Patagonia Capalene 3. They were really comfy, and paired with my sleeping bag I stayed nice and warm! This base layer with be used just for sleeping so they don’t get dirty and smelly. Some details from the website:

  • Stretchy double-knit fabric wicks extremely well
  • Smooth face slides easily beneath layers
  • Fabric brushed for warmth, softness and compressibility
  • Self-fabric crewneck for next-to-skin comfort
  • Thumb loops for secure hand coverage

Jetboil Sol Ti

IMG_84951

Jetboil, coffee, and a h2o bottle

We were originally going to go with an alcohol stove that uses denatured alcohol and weighs almost nothing. But because of how dry it is this year, and the risk of wildfires, many National Forests are considering putting a ban on them because they don’t have an off switch. So we decided to use the Jetboil. We also got a french press attachment piece for morning coffee ( I know, sounds silly but we’re trying to cut weight in so many places that I feel we earned this and we really really love coffee.)

  • Holds .8 L
  • Includes burner, cook pot, pot support, canister tripod
  • Lightest Jetboil cooking system
  • Very fast heating rate (a little over 2 min)
  • Excellent fuel efficiency
  • Excellent cold resistance

We woke up on Valentine’s Day in our tent, a little sore from all the hiking during the week, but nice and warm. Chas made us coffee with the new french press accessory and it didn’t really work. The coffee grounds came up the sides of the filter, but whatever. We just let the ground sink to the bottom and enjoyed some cowboy coffee.

IMG_85141

Chelsea and her coffee

We packed up our tent and gear, and loaded up our backpacks. It didn’t take long to breakdown camp. I’m excited to see how fast we can do it once we get more practice. We went on a little hike along the PCT from Pioneer Mail Picnic Area to the big boulder field around mile 56. On the map it’s listed as a small campsite in boulder field. We ate a bar and relaxed for a bit before turning around and hiking back. It was a really hot day, and I wish I had brought my sunhat. We tried out our new long sleeve button-up shirts. They’re supposed to keep you cool and protect you from the sun. It will take some getting used to. I felt like I should be leading a Girl Scout troop, but Chas said I looked cute.

IMG_85151

Pioneer Mail Picnic Area

IMG_85221

Chas with the desert behind him

IMG_85281

Chelsea at mile marker 55

IMG_14351

Enjoying a snack at the boulders

After our hike we stopped by the Mount Laguna Lodge and got some ice cream. We also went to the Mount Laguna Sport and Supply in hunt for a sun umbrella. A thru-hiker we met up in Tuolumne Meadows last year spoke highly of his sun umbrella he picked up in Mount Laguna for the desert sections. The owner Dave (Super) had one! He was very friendly and helpful. He informed us of some hikes he leads up in the mountains, and also told us he could do a gear shakedown and help us rid ourselves of unnecessary weight.

IMG_14411

Super’s Store

With how busy we have been lately I’m glad our camping trip went so well. It has been almost two weeks since we left our jobs to pursue this dream. Since the full moon hike and our camping trip we have been packing up our apartment and moving stuff into storage which hasn’t left us with much time to go on a long hike and we’re starting to itch a little. This weekend we have a 16 hour Wilderness Medicine course that is all day Saturday and Sunday which is going to be really fun and informative. Then after next week when we’re out of our apartment; it’s long hikes, backpacking and re-supply shopping!

Full Moon Hike (2-13-14)

full moon hike

Sean Evans Photography

Last week was February’s full moon. We had so much fun on our last full moon hike that we decided to go on another one up to Garnet Peak. Chas and I got a campsite at the Laguna Campground down the road from where we were going on our hike. We hung out there for a few hours before meeting our friends at the Penny Pines trailhead. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. The temperature outside was a low of 60 degrees, and the sky was much more clear than last time, allowing us to see pretty well without any headlamps. This trail has lots of rocks so we were stumbling a little bit. Once we got to the top the view was spectucular as always. We celebrated with refreshing summit beers: Pizza Port’s Chronic and Ponto SIPA, Modern Times, and Chas sipped on his scotch! Yum! Thanks to our friends Katie, Amelia, Matt, Sean, and Veronica for joining us! The beautiful picture above was taken by our friend Sean during our full moon hike. He’s got more amazing photos on his website http://www.seanevansphotography.com 🙂

IMG_84901

The Girls