Hwy 173 (PCT mile 314.3) to Cajon Junction (mile 341.9)
(28 miles, +4,200/-4,400 feet).
It’s been a wonderful wet winter here in Southern California, so I was eager to get back to the PCT to take advantage of its unusual lushness. I thought I would pick up where I left off with Barnfinder, finishing the 28 miles of Section C that lead to Cajon Junction at I-15. The plan was to hike about 20 miles today, camp overnight, and then do the last few miles tomorrow.
One virtue of doing this section solo is that the I-15 is a busy road served by Uber. I met my driver at San Bernardino State and had him follow me up to mile 342 at Cajon Junction where I left my car, and then I hopped in with him for the rest of the ride to Mile 314.
By 7am I was on the trail, where I encountered an old grave for two dogs named “Lady” and “Lucky.”
My shadow stretched long in the early morning light as I hiked through burn zones sprinkled with spectacular wildflowers.
I couldn’t believe how much water there was. Not only were all the usual water sources available, but creeks were flowing in just about every major ravine down the mountain
The trail climbed above the Mojave River basin and got somewhat drier, but the wet winter still showed itself in spectacular displays of bushes on fire with color.
As I neared Silverwood Lake, the trail skirted to its north around a huge dam and an interesting (if not too scenic) set of man-made structures.
After a mile or so of road walking, the trail climbed up to a saddle where I got my first view of the lake.
I stopped off at Cleghorn Picnic Area to get some water and then continued on my way. At about two o’clock I hit the halfway point feeling very good. I started wondering if I should turn my overnight trip into a day hike….
I reached mile 22 still feeling good and with three hours left before dark. It was crazy windy and it looked like storms were building behind me, so I made the call to just keep walking.
I had in mind that the last 5 miles of the hike would be sort of ho hum because of their close proximity to a truck stop on a major highway. But they turned out to be some of the nicest scenery of the day!
With just two miles left, the sun dipped below the horizon, leaving me plenty of time to make it to the famous McDonald’s sign at the end.