2 April 2021
Lake Morena to Mount Laguna
PCT Mile 20 to 41.5
Last night was one of those nights that made me hate car campgrounds! I got to listen to a couple in a nearby tent break up, and a very loud group of hikers arrived at 9 and were up and laughing until 11. Add to that an incessant dog barking all night long, and let’s just say I was very glad to be tired enough not to care so much (and earplugs also helped!).
In spite of all that, I did get some decent rest and by 4:45am I was ready to pack and hit the trail. I don’t ordinarily enjoy night hiking but my hike today had a lot of elevation gain and IT WAS HOT! So I was happy to be able to hike for about an hour before first light when the temperature was a gorgeous 50 degrees.
As I hiked into the early morning, I passed a group of hikers that were just getting up who I met last night. They stopped at the campground for beers and then decided to night hike in the evening when it was cooler (ah, youth!).
I told them about my strategy, to night hike in the morning, and they agreed that they were bartenders and I was a farmer!
But we both ended up in the same place at about the same time. Hike your own hike!
The trail changes character on the approach to Boulder Oaks, passing through green shady meadows and then open fields.
I stopped for breakfast at Boulder Oaks where there was no dog barking at me this time (unlike my last hike here on the PCT). I ate a yummy ham sandwich (I wanted a breakfast burrito at the Oakshores Malt Shop yesterday, but they were not serving breakfast then), got some water, and was on my way.
The trail passes under Interstate 8 and then starts a grueling climb up to Mount Laguna.
For a mid-morning break I stopped at Kitchen Creek. I’ve been on this part of the trail several times, but I never took time to follow the use trail rock scramble down to it. Someone has made a great swimming hole with a rock dam, and I was very tempted to jump in. But it was cold! I had to settle for my feet.
After crossing Kitchen Creek Road, the trail climbs on a steep ledge with views to the north and east. One of the hikers from the group I passed caught up to me here and we hiked together for a while until he passed me. I learned, ironically, that he really was a farmer!
And then the most exciting thing all day happened to me when I passed a family out for an Easter-weekend backpack. I saw a rattlesnake!!! It didn’t rattle and I was busy looking at a map on my phone, so I almost stepped on it!
I was on a ledge where it was not possible to pass it at a distance of less than 3 feet. So I waited. It did not move. I tossed a rock onto the boulder it was laying on, hoping to let it know I was here. Still, it didn’t budge. So then I climbed a different boulder to yell back to the family that there was a rattlesnake here. One person said “Oh, cool!” Another person said “Oh no!”
When I turned back around I saw the snake lethargically start to move. I watched it slide under a rock to the left of the trail, and when it was completely ensconced, I slowly passed, keeping as close to the right wall as possible!
As the afternoon wore on I trudged uphill in the heat. At Long Canyon I got some water, but there wasn’t much shade so I stopped just long enough to eat my second ham sandwich and then move along.
I was very happy to make it up to 6,000 feet where the environment change to pine trees.
I was planning to take a zero day (a day with no PCT miles hiked at all) in Mount Laguna to wait out this little heat wave we’ve been having. But when I got to the Mount Laguna Lodge there were no rooms left, and the nearby campground was also full.
So I turned to my favorite trail angel!
It’s only an hour from Mount Laguna to my house, so I will take a zero there tomorrow and get back on trail Sunday morning, picking up where I left off.
Here’s today’s Hike-u:
My headlamp lights up
Little birds with glowing eyes.
Maybe mine shine too?