PCT Journal, Chapter 1

Mr Roboto comments: This is the unedited journal of my 2005 thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Chapter One begins with the train trip from my hometown of Eugene, OR to San Diego, CA  where I was escorted to the PCT southern terminus at the US/Mexico border near Campo by my mom & Greg.

Day one hike to Lake Morena SP was followed by the Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off (ADZPCTKO) weekend where past & current hikers meet/reunite. Chapter One concludes with a climb up Mt San Jacinto and zeroes with my friend Pat in Palm Springs.

4/18 Sue was very strong and upbeat today. We both felt sad. Train was 50 minutes late creating anxiety about connection to San Diego. Pill popping older man provided some humor. He got on train before me and took the last window seat. Left Eugene at 6 pm.

At Klamath Falls stop (11 pm), several police cars and fire trucks waiting for us. Half dozen police & firemen walk down isle to young man across isle next me. Ask him questions, take him outside. Others say he was passed out earlier.

4/19 6:30 am at Sacramento stop many get off. At Oakland some get on but not very crowded. I have both seats the rest of the way.

South of San Luis Obispo to south of Santa Barbara we follow the coastline. Weather is sunny & nice. 120 mile stretch through Vandenburg AFB is remote. General public does not get to see this part of the coast. Saw launch structures and a shuttle runway that was never used.

9:40 arrive in LA in time to catch connection. Relief.

4/20 12:30 am arrive in San Diego. There is mom & Greg, get luggage go to motel in el Cajon.

Get up at 8 am. Breakfeast at I-Hop. Driving circles in el Cajon with mom, Geg & Scoots looking for market. Black Angus for dinner (so-so). Checked hours for Krispy Kreme for breakfeast. Back to room. Gave mom & Greg tour of gear.

4/21 Stop at Krispy Kreme for breakfeast. Quick drive out to border. Take pix, meet other hikers. Start hiking with “Wild Hare”. Also meet Ken & Mory. 90 min in, see first rattlesnake: Big, mean & pissed off. Beautiful day – sunny and 70s, nice breeze.

Hike down into Hauser Canyon. Several people resting at Hauser Creek. Hike up Morena Butte down to Lake Morena. Mom & Greg waiting at campsite.Check in, set up gear. Good burgers at cafe. Mom & Greg leave. Cold shower. Meet hikers, pass around donuts. Hang out with hikers at my site. Answered the question: Yes there is poison oak in Southern Calif. 20.6 miles.

4/22 ADZPCTKO Cool & cloudy this morning. Not much going on, hang around campsite getting to know other hikers, new ones arriving. “Wildcat” has done AT. “Condor” englishman has hiked AT, europe. “Hikeaholic” AT & PCT in late 80s. “Tinker” & “Sage”. Saw some of the well known hikers: Billygoat, Yogi, Strider, Warner Springs Monte, Meadow Ed

Useless gear contest, very funny, good MC. Winner was “The Plan”. Other entries: cell phones, eyelash curler, Bible, tiny musical toy, can of “Whoop Ass” for bears. Spagetti dinner courtesy of class of 2004. Call Sue. Movie “The Walk” about class of 2003. Too cold for second movie. Went to bed, party went on.

4/23 ADZPCTKO – Lake Morena – some sun in the morning – cool, cloudy, breezy afternoon.

Shower, washout hiking clothes in morning. everybody getting antsy for tomorrow. Pancake breakfeast. Gear innovation contest. Group photo. Snow & water info talk. Dinner – Burgers & Hot dogs. Scott Williamson talk – felt better about sierras. 2004 DVD – left went to bed. Rain all night.

4/24 19 miles, camp south of Mt Laguna. Cloudy, breezy, occasional sun midday, windy cold morning.

5:30 am get up & pack. 6:30 breakfast eggs & potato triangles, oj & coffee. scale was already put away, could not get pack weighed. Crap & go. 7:30 am hit the trail, first hour by myself, then other hikers all day. Nice day of hiking not too hard. Cold camp, beef stew dinner, early to bed.

4/25 Windy, cold night. Early wake up, pack, on the trail before 7 am.

Nice day of hiking, saw some hikers but hiked solo. Mostly downhill, out of Mt Laguna into desert climate. sunny & nice. green plants, flowers, views of San Felipe hills. Lucky 5 water cache, rusty car. Stop at Upper Chariot Canyon, hour later half dozen young people show up. Lasagne for dinner.

4/26 23 miles, 87 total, camp at dry sandy wash.

Started hiking at 6:45. Clear warm morning, hot day, desert hiking. Desert is beautiful, green, lots of flowering cactus. Saw my second rattlesnake. Small one, camoflauged. came towards me on the trail. Stop at water cache, cleaned clothes in San Felipe Cr. Round & round, in & out alot of canyons. Tried umbrella. Works well, but it was too breezy. Mexican rice for dinner. Camp with “Fireball”. Probably get to Warner Springs Thursday morning. Brought too much food!

4/27 Warm, dry morning. On the trail by 6:30 am. Threatening clouds ahead, became very breezy.

In & out canyons, hard to regulate temp with the wind, cleared up later. Out of the desert mountains in to the valley. Grassy & green. Live oak, Fields of grass moving in the breeze.

Barrel Springs at noon. Decided to try for Warner Springs P.O. by 4 pm. Pleasant hike along creek, saw a wild turkey. Feet getting tired, side trail into town. Quaint, old resort. Great hot springs. Did laundry, met other hikers. Went to dinner with them. Went for a great soak, call Sue.

4/28 Rain has come. Snow level supposed to be at 6,000 ft. Oh boy! Breakfast at country club across street. Steady rain. Plan to soak in hot springs again, Dump food, post office, then head out.

18 miles, 128 total. 8am soaking in hot pool while it rains. pack up, box extra food, check out, go to P.O., call Pat, walk back to first road crossing back to PCT. Rain tapering off but creeks are rushing. Several fun fords of Agua Calente Cr. More climbing, big boulder valley. Very windy on ridges. Camp at Chihuahua Valley Road.

4/29 24 miles, 151 total. Cold, windy camp on Chihuahua Road ditch.

Hike over the next ridge, fog clears & sunnier. Descend into Anza Borrego Desert Park. Feeling sluggish this morning, taking it slow. Long break at Tule Canyon Creek to soak feet, dry tent. See 3rd rattlesnake (about 3 feet long). Stop at Hikers Oasis water cache, take a break. Think about trying to get to Paradise Cafe for burger – long haul.

Long grind, catch Shawn just before Palms to Pines Hwy at 6:30 pm. Man in car at trailhead waves us over. Craig Smedley trail angel. Offers to cook us up hot dogs, we can’t refuse. Oh well, Paradise Cafe famous hamburgers will have to wait till next time. Craig is a section hiker paying back hospitality he got. Has a big, white hairy dog named King. After dinner, roll out bag on ground, no tent tonight, sounds of cars going by on hwy.

4/30 Morning dew on sleeping bag, will dry out later. Nice morning, a few clouds. will be lots of climbing today. Craig fixed breakfast: spam & eggs. Mike & Mike showed up. Sunny & warm, steady climbing from 5,000 to 7,000 ft. View of San Jacinto – snow up there!

Saw Boy Scouts preparing for Philmont. Stop at water cache Fobes Ranch Trail. Mike & Mike show up with Turtle’s friend “Greyhound”. Turtle went home – homesick. They are going to Idyllwild tomorrow. I press on to nice camp (finally) near Apache Springs Trail, last climb a bitch over new trail. Windy evening, clouds rolling in. Camp at 7100 feet at 5:00 pm along scenic ridge with views of Palm Springs valley thousands of feet below. Plenty of time to make camp, dinner, etc. Kung Pao chicken. 19 miles today, 170 mile total.

5/1 Epic day! Climb San Jacinto (10,834 ft) in the snow using ice axe & crampons. Approx 18 miles in 11 hrs. From half mile south of Apache Sp to near Deer Springs. Sunny, nice day. Awesome views, over 9,000 ft down to Palm Springs. Started hiking at 6:30 am. Saddle junction at noon. Summit at 3:45 pm. Camp at 5:30 pm. No trail above 8,000 ft, using map & views.

Lots of climbing today, many false summits. No tent tonight. Chicken Polynesian dinner. Before Saddle Junction passed 4 hikers who left Campo on April 15. Many went to Idyllwild at Saddle Junction. Saw couple with dogs snowshoeing down from summit.

5/2 22 miles in 11 hrs . Camp at Snow Canyon Rd.

Another long day – dropped 7,000 ft. First six miles in snow. Fuller Ridge difficult – side hill w/crampons & ice axe. Occasionally find trail then disappear. Long descent back to arid desert, lots of creeks and wildflowers. Mr Roboto comments: A hiker named Seabreeze fell off Fuller Ridge and died less than a week later.

Saw rattlesnake #4 hiding in shade between two rocks. Lower descent very windy. I guess thats why you see wind turbines everywhere! Couldn’t make it to Palm Springs tonight. Next couple of miles on paved road, wait til morning. Haven’t seen any people today.

Vegetable pasta for dinner, YUK! Starting to feel the hunger, can’t wait to eat in Palm Springs. Burgers, beer, coffee, pankakes! Did better with food, almost out. Tiny second degree blister burns on forearms, should peel soon.

5/3 Four mile hike to I-10, Tamarack Rd. Tried to hitch at Snow Canyon. Sandy walk across valley, river bed, under bridges for RR & highway. No phone at West Palm Springs area. Tried to hitchhike on freeway on ramp. Warning by police. 8:20 am guy pulls over and lets me use phone to call Pat.

Pat arrives an hour later. Breakfast at Dennys. Pats place at golf resort. Shower, laundry. Help take old ladie’s junk to thriftshop. Dinner at Babes (good BBQ), beer at Yardhouse. Call Sue, watch “Amazing Race”. Crash.

5/4 Excellent breakfast at Mimi’s Cafe. Run errands, Wal-Mart, Petco, etc. Tool around in golf cart, nap. Dip in pool & hot tub, shower. Dinner with Randy & Dick at Tommy Bahamas (excellent Salmon dinner, brownie a la mode dessert). Nice visit.

5/5 Using Pat’s scale: Mr Roboto’s weight with shoes, clothes = 193.5 lbs, with pack, food (3 days) & 4 lbs water = 237.0 lbs, therefore pack weight = 43.5 lbs. Quick coffee at Starbucks and out to the trail by 8 am. 21 or 22 miles? 233 or 234 total? Up canyons and over ridges. Ford Whitewater River. Lots of crossing of Mission Creek. Two section hikers. Dinner: Thai with peanut sauce.

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