Looking back…

I’m a little tied up with school work right now, so for today’s trail talk segment I’ll revisit my 2007 PCT Journal with an entry from the day we left the kick-off. It’s always nice to remember those times early in a hike, and look back to realize how your journey evolved, and how much you learned and grew along the way. Maybe this will trigger similar reminders for some of you out there, and provide a glimpse of a day in the life for others. I’ll be back with some fresh trail related content for this post next week.

Lake Morena to Kitchen Creek (Southern California Desert)

The day began with the sound of distant bagpipes playing “Amazing
Grace” as the Lake Morena Campgrond came to life. Hikers scrambled about,
breaking camp and trying to get a jump on the heat. Others visited and
said their goodbyes. With a short day planned, we lingered a bit, took in
one last hearty breakfast, talked to some friends Dude had made on the
trail last year, and began hiking around nine.
The first six miles covered gently rolling terrain, and went fairly
quick. I met a couple of southbound dayhikers who told me I was the thirty
sixth hiker they had come upon already that morning. It seems about 45
of us must have left Morena today. Much of this years crowd is already
ahead of here, and there will be a handful of late starters in the
weeks to come. The couple was from Vancouver, and they gave me their
contact information offering a place to stay if and when I get to Canada.
I passed a few others along the way. Tyvek and Rebecca, Billygoat,
Captain America, Dr. Bob. I mention these names with the understanding that
there may be two distinct groups of people following this journal. The
majority of you are non-hikers, so these details will mean little. For
those of you, I’ll try to offer more in terms of explaining logistics
and what this hike entails. The other group will be fellow hikers, so
I’ll try and mention who I see for their purpose of tracking and for my
own personal future reference.
I didn’t see much as far as wildlife today. Just a bunch of lizards, a
species I know very little about. When it comes to these reptiles, the
best I can offer in regards of identification will be if they were
small ones or big ones. Today I saw mostly small ones, a few inches long,
an inch wide. I did see a big one or two, the size of a toad with a
tail. I’ll just go out on a limb and say all future lizards will fall into
these categories, the big could prove a bit larger. If I see anything
larger than, oh let’s say an average adult raccoon, I’m just going to
assume it’s a dinosaur. In that case, I’ll back away slowly and politely
excuse myself back to reality.
I arrived at Boulder Oaks Campground around 11:30, and took refuge in
the shade. Here I met a few others doing the same. Thunder from Ohio,
Stomp from Quebec, and a couple from Minnesota. Allison, and I can’t
recall the guys name off hand, I’m bad about that. I’ll have to catch it
again down the line. They were all very friendly, we talked and rested as
the others I had passed trickled in.
Most of the group were shooting to make it a bit farther today, and
left around three. That’s the name of the game out here. You cover what
miles you can during the cool morning hours, then rest in the shade for
as long as you can afford before setting out for your evening camp. Only
having four miles to go, Dude, Tracy and I had the luxury of prolonging
our departure until nearly six in the evening. We hung out, took
advantage of the water spigots in the campground to get well hydrated, and
cooked dinner. The afternoon got pretty hot, but there was a nice breeze
and it wasn’t bad if you stayed in the shade.
Leaving the campground, we crossed beneath Interstate 8 and began our
climb into the Laguna Mountains. The long light of evening cast a
beautiful glow upon the land. It was a very enjoyable hike. I’m feeling
strong and despite my blistered heels covered the distance effortlessly. I
met another hiker, Turtle Don and exchanged hellos, then pulled up on a
bluff overlooking Kitchen Creek.
Dude and Tracy caught up just before sunset, and wanting to camp near
the creek we had two options. We could either bushwhack down into the
canyon, a rocky descent through knee deep sage, or continue to the next
road crossing and cut down. The road meant an extra half mile would be
added to our route, but bushwhacking meant an uncertainty to every step.
It was getting dark fast, and one could only guess what might lie in
the brush. Rattlesnakes, unstable footing, dinosaurs… we opted for the
road.
It was completely dark when we reached the creek. We dug our headlamps
from our packs and followed a modest dirt path along the creek,
searching for a campsite out of sight from the highway. It wasn’t a problem
until Dude realized he was a comedian. Following behind, he made a quick
rattlesnake noise and tapped my leg with his trekking pole. I jumped
like a sprinter out of the starting blocks, only realizing it was a prank
upon hearing the laughter of my friends. Good times.
Tomorrow won’t be as easy. Thirteen miles to cover and get to the Mount
Laguna post office, pick up our maildrops before four. From there we
will push on to the next suitable campsite. I hope it’s not too hot. That
schedule won’t allow much time for a siesta.

-April 29, 2007

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