PCT Journal, Chapter 2

Mr Roboto comments: This is the unedited journal of my 2005 thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Chapter Two begins after my zeroes in Palm Springs and highlights a visit with my brother in Big Bear as well as the ultimate trail angels, the Saufleys, in Agua Dulce. Chapter Two concludes with a split with my hiking companions who decided to skip around the snowy sierra at Walker Pass.

5/6 23 miles, 258 total. Camp at Arrastre Trail Camp at Deer Springs.

Hike up into clouds & snow. Snow covered trail off & on especially north facing slope. Followed footprints, met 4 hikers. Trail confusing in a few places. Highest elevation – 8600 ft. Sun broke out in afternoon. Dinner: Veg Lasagne with tuna added.

5/7 18 miles, 274 total. Camp at Van Dusen Rd (3 mi down dirt road to Big Bear City). Easier day of hiking, took my time, didn’t want to go all the way to Big Bear City. Will be there tomorrow & pick up package on Monday.

Very cold last night. H2O bottles froze. Slept in, didn’t start hiking until 8 am. Stopped at 3:30 pm. Saw 2 day hikers. 2 thru hikers from last night passed (“Mom” & “Dad”) by on their way to town. Nice day. Sunny & cool, cactus to pines.

5/8 Cool morning, pack up quick. Head down Van Dusen Rd. Thelma’s for breakfast – full. Call Sue, mom. Walk to motel & see hikers. Check in, share room. Laundry, shower, call brother Jeff. Hang around. Hikers continue to roll in.

Jeff & girlfriend Frances arrive. Burgers, ice cream in Big Bear Lake. Drive around looking at houses, lake. Take pictures. They drop me off. Hikers hanging around. Call Sue. Watch TV, go to bed. Restful but boring day.

5/9 Get up, get ready to leave. Some sleep in. Lumberjack for breakfast. So-so food. Listen to local man brag about bruises on shoulders from shooting guns all day. Get to post office early. Wait. Left Big Bear City post office around 10.

Walk back up Van Dusen Rd to PCT at 11:15 am. Easy hiking – mostly level to gentle downhill – but pack is very heavy (too much food). Cloudy, misty, cool. Evening crossings of Holcomb Cr – barefoot (save dry shoes).

19 trail miles + 4 miles from BBC = 23 today. 293 PCT miles. Stop at 7 pm. Jamaican BBQ dinner plus candy bar, cookies.

5/10 24 miles, 317 total, camp at Grass Valley Creek.

Got up early, on trail by 6:30. Saw first 2 deer. Overcast but cleared up quick. Sunny, mild day. Mostly hiked in Deep Creek Canyon. Large bridge out, ford Deep Creek. Caught up with “Greyhound” & “Gurney”. Greyhound – nice guy, we have a lot in common, hiked & chatted.

Deep Creek hot springs at noon. Remote hot springs pools, nude beach, hippies hanging out, smoking pot & drinking beer. Day too warm to stay in hot springs long. About 90 min lunch break. Hike out of canyon to Mojave Dam. Graffitti on rocks, ford Deep Creek.

Meadow Mary waiting for Billygoat at 173, offered fruit. Mountain bikers!! About 8 riders. Stop at Grass Valley Creek, Greyhound & Gurney go on.

5/11 On the trail by 6:30 am. Another sunny, mild, beautiful day.

Caught up with Greyhound & Gurney breaking camp at 7 am. Hiked with them again today. Some confusion about the trail before and after Silverwood Lake. Long hike around Lake Silverwood. Hawks & crows airshow. Met trail crew doing great job on the trail. Stop at creek to wash off, cool down.

Hike to Cajon Junction at I-15. McDonalds for dinner. Decide to camp in trees behind McD’s, below billboard with roar of traffic of I-15 and trains to lull us to sleep. Go to gas station next to McD’s for a beer. Then a station wagon full of junk pulls up – its the “Paul & Cody” show – local colorful character spots us as hikers and comes over to tell us about local history and his wood painting. 25 miles, 342 PCT miles.

5/13 Spent the night at Camp Lopez trail angel guest house in Wrightwood and zeroed. Got a ride into town from Jody Lopez . Went into cafe for breakfast and there was Greyhound and Gurney! After breakfast, went to Post Office and walked back to Lopez place. Washed gear, did laundry, hung out with hikers.

Went into town to Yodeler for dinner. Pizza and beer. Met Dirt Magnet and Peace/Love Matt—they are from Eugene!

[5/12, Lost page… went to grocery for ice cream. Got a ride back to Lopez from old retired guy in an old restored jeep. Watched “Saving Private Ryan”. Call Sue. Bed.]

5/14 16 PCT miles, 380 total plus 5 town miles/side trail.

Out the door by 6:30 am. Walk to town to Acorn Rd. Steep climb! Instead of icy Acorn Trail, bushwacked up dry ridge. Tiring! When I get to top of ridge, there is Mike & Mike (now “Patch” & “Zip”). Looking for trail, we walk dirt road and trail to hwy 2. They get a ride into Wrightwood to take couple days off.

Continue to Baden Powell. Meet 2 skiers and 2 climbers. Follow footsteps to summit. 4:15 pm, 9400 ft. Great views, mountains and desert. Continue on ridge to near Throop Peak. Camp on ridge at 8800 ft. Boiled snow for water. Speed hiker “Squeaky” comes along (from UK?). He left 11 days ago doing 35+ miles/day! He wants to be done in July! PS: saw glider near summit.

5/15 Good camping on ridge. Dry, calm, warm. 6:30 am hit the snow again.

Over Mt Throop. Steep descent to Windy Gap. Great water at Little Jimmy Spring. Hike on snow covered road then straight down ridge to closed hwy 2. Quarter mile on road to trailhead Islip Gap. Up to Mt Williamson. Lots of day hikers.

At top, 4 women having big spread for lunch ask me to join them. Indian food, egg burrito, cucumbers. Answer questions. Down the other side – more snow. Back to hwy 2. Down to Little Rock Creek. Saw lots of Boy Scouts and rattlesnake #5!

Get a little lost at Cooper Canyon Campground. Bushwack up the ridge. Hike the ridge till I see the trail. Hike to headwaters of Cooper Canyon Cr. PCT mile 397. About 17 hard miles today. Another sunny, warm day. Should be out of snow til Sierras. Chili mac dinner: YUM!

5/16 28 miles today! PCT 425. High clouds moving in. Cloudy & cooler today. Low clouds hanging over mountains behind me. Feel sorry for people on Baden Powell today. Easier hiking today. Make up for shorter miles previous 2 days. Fairly uneventful. One day hiker. Camped with Gil & “Chocolat” (french guy). Beef veggie pasta – Yuck!

5/17 Nice camp. Get up leave with Gil at 6:30. A few high clouds, they give way to sunny skies, mild temp.

Lots of rough downhill today. One deer at top of Mt Gleason. Legs still tired from long day yesterday. Stop at North Fork Saddle Ranger Station for water. Stop at Mattox Creek to bathe. Stop at mobile home park on Soledad Canyon Rd for 2 cold pepsi from machine. Stop at Antelope Valley freeway tunnel to camp. 25 miles today, 451 total. Only three and half miles to Agua Dulce. Thai chicken dinner.

5/18 No rain cover on tent, some condensation in the morning. Easy 4 mile walk to Agua Dulce. Breakfast at Sweetwater Cafe. Call Sue. Walk mile to Saufley’s Ranch. Greeted, given tour, instructions to take a load off, shower, get laundry ready. Meet other hikers. Greyhound, Gurney & Peace/Love Matt show up.

Went to town for lunch (so-so Mexican), saw Gil & Chocolat in town, ride back. Help put up more tents for coming horde. Sky shows up. Hanging out, waiting for big BBQ this evening. Beer & Beef. Up til after 9 pm chatting.

5/19 Zero day in A.D. Hiker Heaven. Breakfast at Halfway House. Pseudo Hollywood stars on wall. Post office, grocery. Get gear cleaned, organized. Into A.D. for lunch – good sandwhich at market, Ben&Jerry’s. More & more hikers showing up. Couple dozen here now. Some make trips to REI, some go see new “Star Wars” movie.

Hanging out in shade with full stomach. Go into town with others to Mexican restaurant for beer/chips. Big crew. Back to Saufley’s. Get gear ready, sit around fire, chat. Big pack of yelping, barking coyotes go by in the fields in the dark. Very wired. Birthday cake for “Tomato” while I get on computer. Go to bed.

5/20 Get up, walk down to breakfast at Sweetwater Cafe with Greyhound, Sky, Peace/Love, Gurney. Down the road. Gonna be hot, use umbrella. Up & down ridges all day. Decide to do some night hiking to get more miles while cooler. Stop & fix dinner at Ranger Station at San Francisquito Canyon Rd.

Neat water cache – chairs, skeleton, cold soda. Anderson’s take Pedestrian & Smack, the rest keep going. Over Green Mtn, I start cruising. Nice moon, cool hiking downhill. Camp at Elizabeth Lake Canyon Rd. 32 miles, 486 total.

5/21 Get up early, five of us set off. More up & down over ridges. Warm but more shade. Finally downhill to valley floor hwy 138. 32 miles again, 518 total. Camp in ditch with Sky & Greyhound. Aquaduct tomorrow.

5/22 Ditch did not protect us from wind so sand blew into everything all night! Covered my head with plastic bag to keep sand out of face. Yuck! Early get up. “What about Bob?” strolls by. On the trail by 5:40 am. Crossing big valley today, mostly along aquaduct. First open, then closed aquaduct then dirt road walk. Another sunny day, a little warmer but breezy. Used umbrella until lunch.

Stop for shade then stop at Cottonwood Creek bridge for water & lunch. Long lunch break (three and half hrs). Greyhound leaves at noon, me & Sky at 2:40. Gurney shows up as we are leaving. Decide to do another 7 miles to Tylerhorse Canyon. Greyhound waiting for us. Stop at 5 pm. 23 miles today, 541 PCT total. Used last bit of first fuel canister.

5/23 Warm night at Tylerhorse Canyon. Sky said 68 degrees. Didn’t need rain fly – too hot.

Everyone left camp before me, I left at 5:40. Shaded climbing. Lots of motorcycle trails & jeep roads. Caught up with Bob & Sky & Greyhound waited up. Confusing trails, whoop dedoos. Steady downhill to wind turbines. Walk along fence next to turbines down to Willow Springs Rd. Split up with Bob & Sky (Tehachapi).

Greyhound and I hitch to Mojave. 30 minute hitch, pickup by nice retired lady in pick up. Motel 6. Crappy Colosselburger at Primo. Gurney arrives. Laundry, post office using local transit ($1). Stater market – beer, epsom salts, order pizza, watch basketball, call Sue.

5/24 Transit to Denny’s, walk to post office, transit back. Clean up gear, good nap, transit to Mike’s Roadhouse Cafe. Meatloaf, apple pie. Transit to Motel 6. Drink beer, watch basketball, call Sue.

5/25 Shower, check out, walk to Denny’s. 10 minute hitch, nice old guy in pick up took all three of us to trail at 75 mph. Back on trail by 8:40!

Sunny, nice day, not too hot (80s) with slight breeze. Hike thru more windfarms. Long waterless stretch. Carry 5L H2O. Left Gurney to siesta under Joshua tree. Greyhound & I hike, eat dinner on trail, hike to water, clean up, hike a little further to good campsite. Stop at 8 pm. 25 miles, 583 total.

5/26 Greyhound & I on the trail by 6:45. Finally pass all the wind turbines. Hike with cows – 8 in front, 1 left behind. Good water at Robin Bird Springs. Stop at Landers Cr. 24 miles, 607 total. 5:30 pm, clean up, cook dinner. Saw deer. Gurney shows up at 7:30 pm. PS – hiking uphill on exposed south slopes, downhill on forested, shady north slopes.

5/27 Leave camp, pick up Gurney half mile down. Long dry stretches today. Start with max 5 liters. Leave pine woods, back to desert chapparal. Sunny, warm, exposed. Use umbrella today. Deer #7. Take several breaks under Joshua trees. Stop and camp at Bird Spring Pass water cache. Watch sunset from tent. 24 miles, 631 total.

5/28 I leave camp at 6:15, ahead of the others. Steady climb for one & half hours then mostly downhill to Walker Pass. Another sunny, warm day in the 80s. More cows. Watched an owl get chased & squawked at by Blue Jays. Two and half miles of trail was on popular jeep/motorcycle trail. Memorial weekend – lots of dune buggies & motorcycles to watch out for.

Long downhill to Walker Pass campground. Stay with Greyhound & Gurney one more night. Gurney decides to get a ride into town to rent a car. Cook dinner, clean gear. 20 miles today, 651 total.

5/29 Good day of hiking today. Felt good all day, maybe excited to get to sierra. Cloudy morning, sunny by midmorning. Very windy today, especially at passes. Started at 5:45 am. Said goodbye to Greyhound. One section hiker at Joshua Tree Creek. Two southbound section hikers gave me a homemade cookie, ask questions, they plan to do PCT in ’07.

Stop to cook dinner, stop to clean up in creek, first aid on two cracked toes, kept going. Nice evening. Hike past campers at Canebrake Rd. Stop & camp at 7:15 pm. Hang food in tree. Kennedy Meadows tomorrow!

5/30 Missed alarm, woke up at 5:48 am, on trail by 6:40. 20 miles to Kennedy Meadows. Another nice, sunny day. No wind, cool morning. Easy hiking, mostly downhill or flat. Hike thru Manter Creek fire area. Big boulders and granite mtns, definitely in the Sierras now.

Three weekenders at Manter Creek. Last part, hike along Kern River – fast flow. Walk up road to Kennedy Meadows General store. Meet Dave & Michele (English) & Freebird. Will go into Sierras together. 5th thru hike for Freebird. Hang out on porch, get boxes, use outdoor shower. We all get on truck to Grumpy Bear for dinner. Hamburger on hot dog buns. Truck ride to campground. 20 miles today, 702 total.

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