Day 20: Deep Creek Hot Springs

20 April 2021
Deep Creek Bridge to Road Near Highway 173
PCT Mile 298.5 to 318.7

What a crazy day! It feels like we packed three days into one.

I got great sleep under the bridge last night and when I woke up this morning, I packed quickly. Half an hour before sunrise I was on trail. Perfect!

Good morning!
Flowers everywhere
Golden glow on Deep Creek
New Mexico thistle
Lovely trail
300 miles!
Golden yarrow
Granite cliffs all along the way
Ashy silktassel
Goldenrod crab spider on a creamcup

Goose and I planned to meet at our first water stop for the day where the trail neared Deep Creek. It was a gorgeous breakfast spot!

Down by the creek
JimmyJam collects some water

After breakfast, the trail wrapped down and up around each ravine, turning gradually from north to west.

Western fence lizard
A cool bridge
Bajada lupine
Getting dryer
JimmyJam in his element

Goose got a great video (Instagram @tuckerontrail) of a hawk that circled around our head.

Zone-tailed hawk
Almost to the hot springs
White-stem stick leaf
Scarlet bugler

After about 10 miles we made it to the hot springs. It was weird, as usual. One group of stoners sat in a line staring at the river while listening to loudly blaring free jazz that echoed off the canyon walls (actually, the music was pretty cool, if not exactly LNT).

Another group was in the river, itself, and another group was in the lower hot springs at river’s edge. That means Goose and I got the upper hot springs all to ourselves!

Let’s all stare at the river

We eventually joined the hikers at the lower springs, where we once again saw Trainwreck and Red Light. We chatted while alternating soaks in the icy river and steamy springs.

Goose, Red Light, Sandwich, Trainwreck, TBD, and Ramblin

Goose and I got our fill of the scene after about an hour, and then we headed out.

For the first time this trip, I saw horses on the PCT. The trail is designed for horses, but I hardly ever see them.

Horses on the PCT!
Hoary wild buckwheat
Climbing out of the hot springs

Our next break was at a lovely tributary with still pools below a mossy flowing trickle of water that was filled with frogs.

Gorgeous trickle
California tree frog
Break time!
Peanut butter Oreo tortilla

Trainwreck and Red Light pulled up and demonstrated their backcountry gourmet skills.

Trainwreck and Red Light
Grilled spam

Not 5 feet away from us, poison oak was spilling into the trail. Needless to say, we were careful on our way out!

Pacific poison oak
Refreshed from the break

A few miles later we reached the pretty “rainbow bridge” that crosses the creek.

Rainbow bridge!
Goose on the Rainbow Bridge
And now JimmyJam

And a short while after that we started getting our first views of Baldy (Mount San Antonio).

First view of Baldy
Goose snaps the mountain

For the last part of Deep Creek, the trail follows an old aqueduct before ending in a giant flood control dam that seems to be strangely in the middle of nowhere.

Walking the old aqueduct
Looking back upstream
Little gold poppy
Mojave forks dam
Some kind of mustard

We took a break in the shade of a tree at the base of the dam and then started a long climb.

Once we had cell service, we stopped to book a room in Cajon Junction for two nights. The plan is to Uber there this afternoon, Uber back tomorrow, and then “slackpack” back to the hotel tomorrow night, meaning we can leave most of the stuff in our backpacks at the hotel.

Unfortunately, we accidentally booked the wrong hotel. We climbed a bit to sit under a Sycamore tree while we were on hold to fix everything.

Ascending above ranchland
Booking the (wrong) hotel
Pacific coast tick
A huge shiny granite boulder
Redstem Springbeauty

The bush poppies were EXPLODING! It seems like they all bloomed at once. we had them the whole rest of the afternoon as we hiked toward a place to descend to the highway.

Bush poppy explosion
Goose in the poppies
JimmyJam in the poppies
Variable checkerspot
Almost done

Near the end we crossed paths with a trail runner who stopped to ask us about our thru-hike. He seemed very nice, but soon he was on his way.

Bounce on the distant ridge
Coming around the bend

When we dropped to the road neither Lyft nor Uber had any drivers. D’oh! But there was a truck parked there, and sure enough, the trail runner showed up not 5 minutes after we did. He offered us a ride to our hotel. The trail provides!

His name was Jerry, a special needs teacher who at 48 was already a grandfather! He seemed mellow and at peace with the world.

Thanks Jerry!

At the hotel we had showers, did laundry, got beer and Subway sandwiches, and then planned out our slackpack for tomorrow.

The beauty of chores

Today’s Hike-U:

Sweet Relief
Feet and muscles ache
Until they float buoyantly
In Deep Creek Hot Springs

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Susie Flores says:

    Sorry I missed seeing you. Or helping out. I live close by.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ian says:

    Congratulations on the first 300 miles Jim! What a great long trek you’re doing.
    Looks like pretty nice country with all the flowers. Thanks for the photos with names. However, rather than “Western fence lizard,” as kids we always called them “Blue-bellies.” And now that we are big, serious adults, we like to say the word “Sceloporous.” In fact, I like to say that name so much that I try to work it in to most conversations… eg.: “Hey there, how’s it going? Nice weather this morning. What do ya make of all them Sceloporous lizards?” Have fun out there, Ian and Lizzie.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Leslie A says:

    As usual, I’m loving your photos & journal. We like to take our kids to Splinters Cabin on Deep Creek for day hikes – it’s so pretty there! In one of the pix, I saw a tent right on the water, which isn’t LNT from what I understand – is it deemed ok if there aren’t any other options nearby?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      Thanks! And no, camping is illegal there. As you know, one element of LNT is “make a plan” so no excuses!


  4. Dear James,

    I can happily see that the PCT adventure is going swimmingly!

    There’s a lot of interest in your “Grilled Spam” photo from the Spam Church Art Collective here in Berin ( We wanted to ask you if you could kindly “donate” the picture to our collective, as well as document future sightings of SPAM of any type (really, any!) during your trail. No pressure in any case!

    Always a fan,

    Manuel + Spam Church Art Collective

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      You are welcome to use the image. And now I will be on the hunt for more spam!


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