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City: Rancho Palos Verdes
Begins: May 9, 2009
Date: Tue, Sep 1st, 2009
Start: Midway Creek
End: Below Packwood Glacier
Daily Distance: 25
Trip Distance: 2,286.0
Entry Visits: 909
Journal Visits: 132,526
Guestbook Views: 13,620
Guestbook Entrys: 182
An awesome day and one full of surprises. I didn't put the rain fly on last night because it looked like it would be a nice night and the hikers I shared the previous night's campsite with had told me the weather this week was going to be sunny each day. There was heavy dew which helped to dampen everything and then just as I was getting up it started to rain. I got all my gear packed up quickly and then of course it stopped.
The trail was in the forest again almost all morning. The rain did start again and I quickly put on the pack cover and my new poncho. That was the cue for it to stop again and eventually I put the rain gear away, thankfully for the rest of the day. I entered the Goat Rocks Wilderness and after about another hour of forest hiking it started to open up for some nice views.
At first I saw some nice steep rocks which I took a photo of but this was just a harbinger of what was to come. I hiked along this ridge that was opening up the further I climbed. It seemed like I was getting above treeline although there were still pockets of trees above me. There was another interesting rock formation up ahead with a large protruding top that I also snapped. Then I reached a saddle and on the other side was this absolutely amazing view of what looked like part of a volcano rim above a long green valley stretching several miles. About half a mile further on I climbed to Cispus Pass and the view on the other side was perhaps even more spectacular. I took pictures looking both ways.
The trail then went around this large bowl with creeklets flowing about every 200 yards. One was a sizable flow and just at the trail there was a 20 ft waterfall. I could only catch it all by turning the camera 45 deg - going further back I would have fell off the cliff.
I kept climbing and was close to the top when I met another hiker I knew coming the other way. He told me it was a complete white out on the top and he had lost the trail and was backtracking to a point he was sure was on the PCT. Seeing me he felt he was back on the trail and we hiked up together. It wasn't obvious where the trail went and it took both of us a while to figure out where it went. It traversed a very steep slope including some snow and then went along a narrow crestline called the Knife's Edge. There was a significant drop to the west side and the Packwood Glacier to the east. We also saw a skeleton up there beside the trail - no idea what it once was. As it was getting late we were hurrying to get down to a more comfortable altitude where the terrain would offer some camping opportunities. Just as daylight was ending we reached a plateau and camped where the guidebook described as "bleak alpine campsites". But it was a lot more comfortable than the cold, foggy and windy ridge we had just come down.
Overall an incredibly beautiful day with some interesting twists and turns. I hope there are a few more like this rather than endless miles in forest.
Mad Dogs & Englishmen
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org
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