Day 4: Boisenberry Apple Crumb…

Day: Tuesday, May 17th

Miles: 63.7 – 84.7

Remote Camp 63.7 – Remote Camp 84.7

That was my order. I was in Moms pie shop in Julian, CA and earlier this morning I had no intention of going to Julian at all, but here I was. Moms gives free pie, ice cream and a drink to PCT thru-hikers so the draw was strong.

I woke this morning to a crystal clear view. The sun was obscured by the ridge to the east and it was cool. I have already learned that getting out early is the secret to keeping moving although in practicality this has worked better sometimes over others. I bounced out of camp around 6:30am aiming for Rodriguez Spring Rd. A nowhere on the way between two other nowheres. It has a water source and that’s all that’s important. I had a good breakfast there of oatmeal with added raisins and mused over the animals visiting the water trickle whilst I was lurking. Squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, bugs, yellow jackets, too many birds to mention. It was a busy little puddle!

The trail dropped a huge elevation, virtually all of that I worked so hard to accrue on Day 2, but that’s how the PCT goes. Some days it’s up, some days it’s down and most days it’s a lot of both. The view over the valley to scissors crossing was incredible and kept me contented through the morning. With the change in topology however came a change in climate. It was obviously desert scrub and heat would be a problem.


The valley became barren and the trail seemed to march in the wrong direction relentlessly for longer than I was happy with. Eventually it dropped to the valley floor with a harrowing thump: a 2-3 mile straight-line walk of doom across the valley floor in hellish pre-midday heat. My sun umbrella – the one piece of gear I was most suspicious about, came into its own (By the end of the day, this would maybe be my favorite piece of gear). I was aiming for an unglamorous destination: underneath an overpass that crosses a dry creek bed that’s on the PCT. This attracts hikers as its cool and inviting as a place to avoid the midday sun. I arrived to Alfie from Wales and Shannon from Tennessee. After realizing that hiking up the valley was not only ill advised but downright dangerous in the heat, I realized that I had a few hours to kill. Julian is a small tourist town 13 miles west and seemed like one good way to spend the afternoon *if* I could hitch a ride. Shannon was game for the idea so we both popped out hitchhiking cherries with a nice family from Palm Springs. It did take an hour to get picked up however we won’t dwell on that too much.

Why WOULDNT you pick up these people!?

my first hitch!

Julian is a nice little town and the pie was worth it.


Unfortunately Carmens restaurant was closed (it’s a big hiker spot) so I missed out on that, but it was worth spending a few hours to see that place. We caught a ride back with a local lady who went home and brought her whole family so they could meet us. Julian is a very hiker friendly town and this lady showed us huge kindness – she drove us 13 miles just because she wanted to help us, bringing us water, sweets, wet-wipes and offers of anything we needed. She also filled us in on the difficulties Julian faces with fires (as a member of the fire department committee). A small volunteer fire department dealing with larger and larger and more numerous forest fires than ever before, as a result of the drought and some other illegal activities (apparently Break Bad gave a lot of people really bad ideas about mobile meth labs). Never a dull moment on the PCT for the sheer variety.

I rejoined the trail at 5pm and started the long weary hike back up the hills. Thankfully the sun was low in the sky and the sunset was incredible – assisted by a swirling storm to the north.


I popped on my rain jacket at the sight of imminent rainfall and encounter a bizarre experience of hailstones the size of gumdrops, falling from the sky whilst a burning sun set behind. I didn’t mind getting wet for that experience and the rainbow afterwards was a nice additional treat. Today was a varied day for sure! I continued onwards for a long time, 8pm is my finishing time based on the last few days, and by 8 I found a nice spot to camp in. The moon was shining brightly above (like a flash lamp) and it seems like the perfect night to cowboy camp (no tent, just sleeping bag). I decided it was worth the risk and used my tent as a base. It was a beautiful night, punctuated with 1 or 2 late night hikers passing, occasional jets overhead and the slow passage of the stars. All terribly romantic.

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