Happy Birthday to Me!
I slept better this past night than the first, likely I think, because of the colder temps. The first night I was a bit toasty, but this morning we woke up to a brisk 35 degrees.
6:00 was our wake up time again, but since we were tenting by ourselves and not with others nearby, we felt a bit more relaxed packing up. We didn’t get going on the trail til 7:00. Like the day before, we thought we’d go a bit before breaking our fast. We went downhill for the first mile and reached Cottonwood Creek. Here we hiked under a road bridge, then experienced our first stream obstacle. We opted to ford the stream rather than caulk the wagon and float it…our decision proved to be the right move:
Afterwards, the trail followed parallel to the road for a while. We thought our slow and steady pace was going to win against the cars in the road construction back-up, but they ended up pulling ahead. The trail turned away from the road, and soon after we ran into the same stream again. This was an even more trecherous crossing seeming as we had to balance and walk cross a board to get over. We persevered nonetheless.
On the other side, we stopped to filter water, make some breakfast, and to lay out our tents to dry in the sun. The condensation got them a bit soaked overnight. While hanging around, some other hikers joined. We met Rampage (trail name) who is attempting to finish her “triple crown.” She has already hiked two of the major long distance trails in the U.S., the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. The PCT will complete it when she finishes. I got a few tips from her about ways of packing things, which dad and I seem to struggle with. Every time we need something, it seems like we’re pulling every item out of our packs to get to it. We also saw Scott, our fellow Michigander (from Ann Arbor), who we’ve been keeping pace with since camp night 1.
After this point the trail seemed to go up for pretty much the remainder of the day. There were portions of flat or downward, but the trend was definitely climbing. There was a nice view of the highway, which we had drove in on from San Diego.
Up we went following along Kitchen Creek. Eventually, we popped out on a road and here were stopped by a man who introduced himself as Carl. He apparently drives up here from San Diego every so often to provide some “trail magic” for PCT hikers. Since today is my birthday, I felt it was very appropriate to accept his very generous gift of ice-cold Gatorade and potatoes chips! We also enjoyed talking with him and learning about the different plants we’ve been seeing…thanks Carl!
Next, we traversed around a rather large hill/mountain and had more views, seeming as we kept climbing. We stopped for lunch right off the trail, where there was a particularly nice open view where you could see a long ways. We finally had decent cell service, so I had the chance to reconnect with folks and see all the birthday wishes…thanks all!
A little further on, we made our way to another watering hole, where others were already gathered. This place was called Fred Canyon and had a really nice spot with lots of shade and a small stream running by. This is one that does not typically have water running, so we were very fortunate. We cameled up to have water for the night since we didn’t see any water sources ahead prior to where we hoped to set up camp.
Onward and upward we trekked. We eventually made camp at mile 36.1 and gained about 2,300 feet of elevation over the day. We don’t have much to compare it to, but it seemed like a lot to us. Even so, we we’re feeling good. Our camp this night was under a huge tree and we feasted. All the things were special birthday treats, mainly because we said they were, but Dave H also had a few tricks up his sleeve too. Another dinner spectacular, jambalaya this time. Then, cake! Dehydrated angel food cake with an an absolutely decadent cheesecake pudding, topped with a blueberry sauce. Pretty sure Merry Berry would call it scrumptious. I also went for a Starbucks instant coffee to complete the meal. The last birthday splurge was some peppermint schnapps to share, a rare Dave H classic.
A lovely way to end a rather memorable birthday!