Vasquez Rocks (PCT Halfmile 453.5) to Indian Canyon Trailhead (PCT 444.2)
(9.3 miles, +2,000/-2,300 feet).
One thing I didn’t realize about my campsite last night: I was about a mile from the 14, which is busier than many interstates I’ve travelled. It wasn’t too bad, but it did remind me of what it sounds like when I open my windows at night back home in San Diego!
I slept well until about 5am, but it was still dark. I was eager to get up and start the day, but I definitely did not want to miss the Vasquez Rocks, so I laid in my tent and played on my phone until about 6am. At the first hint of light I started packing, ate breakfast, and then emerged to see — for the first time — what my campsite looked like!
I packed up my tent and then headed back over to the trail, where I got to hike towards this:
Weird rock formations made famous for being featured on Star Trek and in so many TV series and movies now silhouetted the sky as the sun pinked and then goldened the horizon. I took dozens of pictures, but it was really hard to capture the glowy early morning light.
The PCT winds around the rocks, along a high ridge, and then down into Escondido Canyon.
All too soon it was over, and it was time to walk through the tunnel under the 14.
I was going to stop for a break on the other side of the tunnel, but it was a bit loud there so I decided to keep hiking until I was farther from the highway.
And then after about a mile I realized I had done it again.
Lost on the PCT!
Just like yesterday, I took accidentally followed a bicycle trail and was way off course. I had also gained a lot of elevation and did not want to give it back. So I took off cross country trying to minimize my elevation change as I headed back towards the PCT. I found another bike trail that came down from a local peak, and after about an hour I was back on course.
After a re-orienting break, I set out to finish the last few miles of the hike. This part was really pretty, with reddish brown soil and dry yellow buckwheat covering folded hills darkened by the shadows of the early morning.
There weren’t too many wildflowers on this trip. Too late for last year and too early for this year. Still, there was the occasional non-conformist.
Towards the end the trail crosses through an area that was recently burned in the Sand Fire. It looks like it was really intense!
I crossed some railroad tracks and then the Santa Clara River and then I was done!