24 – 25 February 2020
Lake Morena to Mount Laguna (22.3 miles, +4,500 feet/-1,700 feet).
After two failed attempts to hike from the Salton Sea to the Pacific Ocean, I was left with a problem.
One of my water caches was still in the desert!
But there was a catch (cache?). I didn’t have a vehicle! My wife and son both needed the family wheels.
So I mapped out a route that would get me there using public transportation. There’s a bus from San Diego to Lake Morena and a bus from Stagecoach Trails RV Resort back to San Diego, and I connected the dots from one to the other, passing by my water cache.
The bus to Lake Morena was fun. Lots of families headed to the Mexican border at Calexico. After that stop the bus was pretty empty, passing through RV villages on the way to Campo. I am surprised that more thru-hikers don’t take this bus. It’s cheap and easy and passes within a mile of the southern terminus of the PCT.
Anyhoo, I was the last one on past Campo, and the bus driver asked where I was going and I told her the PCT at Lake Morena. The bus normally drops people off at the Malt Shop, but she took me all the way to the trail since that’s where the bus turns around. Thanks!
I got dropped off with about an hour to spare before sunset and I boogied to make it to a ridge outside Lake Morena County Park where it is legal to camp.
The next morning I packed up at first light and headed out.
It was quite chilly, with traces of frost here and there.
And I herded about two dozen wild turkeys down the trail until they ducked under a fence
I stopped for breakfast at the all-but-abandoned Boulder Oaks Campground. Unfortunately, the one car camper decided to let his dog run free, and it decided to bark at me viciously for 10 minutes without letting up.
Oh well. I finished up and cautiously backed away back to the PCT.
The trail passes under the 8 here and I always marvel at what humans are capable of at these junctions.
Soon I was climbing up into the Lagunas, where Kitchen Creek was flowing nicely. The falls were probably lovely but I didn’t climb down to see them.
Familiar sites from the PCT came into view.
I turned off the PCT to head over to Thing Valley and then McCain Valley via Fred Canyon Road. It was novel, but not as nice as the PCT.
And then the wind! Out of nowhere there were gusts to 50MPH. Yikes! It was blowing the headphones out of my ears and I stumbled every tenth step.
I checked the weather and it had suddenly turned. Looks like gusts to 70MPH tonight. Yikes! I’d be willing to do that on a thru-hike but it sounded a little intense for a solo weekend adventure. So I detoured back to the PCT and headed up to Mount Laguna where I hoped for either a hotel room or a ride from my lovely wife.
I was the only hiker in Mount Laguna. Weird, of course, but not surprising given the conditions. Half Cookie picked me up and it was lovely to be out of the wind.
I still need to get that cache!