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

Valentine’s Camping

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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Pioneer Mail Picnic Area

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Chas with the desert behind him

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Chelsea at mile marker 55

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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.

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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!