Day: Monday, May 16th
Miles: 37.75 – 63.7
Remote Camp 37.75 – Remote Camp 63.7
Water, water everywhere. We take water for granted so much, that it’s difficult for many of us to fathom how difficult life is when it is not abundant in supply and high in quality. Today I woke up to a babbling brook, this stream will likely have clear, fresh water for some time yet, but will eventually dry out, as most do on the southern PCT. This morning was easy. As I would find out today however, Southern California does not always present its riches to you without some effort.
I woke early, with a short 5 miler to bring me into Mount Laguna where my first resupply package was waiting at the store. It was a beautiful cool and clear morning and the 5 miles flew by. The decision to rest was a good one. I was feeling really great and ready to take on the world. The increase in elevation changed the scenery dramatically. I was now in my favorite type of terrain, high alpine.
I broke off the trail a little earlier than where I joined it, so I backtracked for a half mile, just to make sure I wasn’t cheating! On this little backtrack, I realized that I had missed one of the most spectacular views yet – the first glimpse of the Anza Borrega Desert and the dry regions of the east.
After leaving Mount Laguna, the trail further treads a needle along alpine meadows with chirping birds and busy squirrels. I eventually came to an area with obvious signs of a recent burn – trees blackened and dead but abundant new growth all around them. In some cases the inside of the trees burned whilst the exteriors remained.
The trail winds further and further along the ridge with views ranging from desert to the right, alpine forest behind and burned forest to the left. Ahead was ridge after ridge of mountains and glimpses of the Salton Sea along with Mt.San Jacinto where the PCT rises in a few days time.
Having filled with water at the start of the day at the brook, I also refilled in Mt.Laguna. My next water stop of the day about 4 miles out, was simple, a small faucet at Penny Pines, the biggest danger at which was a large swarm of yellow jackets (as interested in the water as I was). This fill allowed me to make it to a horse trough about 6 miles further on. My first trough usage of the equestrian-varietal.
After another 6 miles I came to my next trough of the day, this one made up for the lack of pungent smell and luminous color with a very pretty view:
I filled up with enough water to last through the nights cooking needs and a haul to Rodriguez Rd fire hose. The next reliable source and a considerable distance away. I was ready for bed but the wind was howling so I needed to keep venturing further in the hope of getting off the ridge for the night.
After a beautiful sunset and a sharp drop in altitude into the valley, I came across a perfect spot and settled in for the night. I woke a few times as something busily went about its evening chores around my tent during the night but I have no idea what…!
Notes: The reason for bouncing between water sources, is because water is heavy: one liter will last me about 3 miles and weights 2.5 pounds. That adds up fast when you have 3.5 days food in your bag already. Hence the strategy is take enough for what you need plus a contingency. This takes some practice (always overestimating the need as obviously getting it wrong is, not good.).