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Edgewise - Pacific Crest Trail Journal - 2017

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Begins: Apr 18, 2017
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Tue, May 23rd, 2017

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Pacific Crest Trail Map

notes, scissors to idyllwild-

So, I ended up hanging around the Julian/scissors/stagecoach area for a couple more days to wait for the predicted 20 degree temp drop. Hiking in 60 degree weather is way better than hiking in 90 degree weather... However, hiking all day in a windstorm... sucks... :) I stopped after about 5 miles for a break and decided to try and set up my tent to get out of the wind for an hour or two... turns out my tent doubles as a kite until it’s fully pitched and tensioned. After battling the unrelenting blow for longer than I should have I ended up sitting on top of my tent and sheltering behind a rock and a cactus eating gummy bears, and a snickers bar. Three hikers came by while I was enjoying my break, the first was a superhiker who nodded, made a facial expression I can only interpret as empathetic pain, and hurried on his way. The next two were a friendly couple from somewhere friendly... Canada maybe, or Wisconsin... sadly I don’t remember their names, but they sat and chatted for a few while they had a bite to eat and didn’t bat an eye or ask about grubby me sitting atop my tent in the wind. After they headed out I decided I had better get going too, if I wanted to find a more sheltered spot to set up camp. Two long windy miles later I set up in a sheltered area and was asleep by 1800

Next morning I woke up feeling... funny. I had a raging headache and my face felt... weird...

I pulled out my phone and had a look at myself in the camera... apparently I had a reaction to the wind, or something carried on the wind, because my face was SWOLLEN. Between my face, my headache, and the drizzle that would end up lasting all day, I decided to take an on trail zero and just napped and snacked all day. within a couple hours the swelling was mostly gone, but I was still feeling kind of beat so I continued with my napping and snacking, just as any self-respecting cannabist would do. I was low on water so I set my drinking cup/mud puddle scoop under the lip of my vestibule and collected then drank about 1.5 liters of rainwater throughout my stay at that camp site.

Next day, feeling good about the size of my face in relation to the rest of my body, I packed up and got moving in the cool, damp morning. Made it 6 or so miles to the water cache by 1100, the hiking felt good and I was happy to be moving though it was a little humid. I ate lunch half under a bush, half in the sun, collected the maximum allowed 3L of water at the 3rd gate cache and hiked up another couple of miles to a chaparral sheltered, dry camp up on a ridge overlooking the highway that runs between Julian and warner springs, somewhat frustratingly you can see nearly all the way back to scissors crossing for the next 10 miles or so of switchbacks and climbs... as is generally my custom, I was first into camp, I was joined by several hikers in groups of four, three, and then a solo guy (who somehow left camp later than I did the next morning!) I managed to avoid another awkward trail name like ‘bush voice’ or ‘scrubby Steve’ after startling the first group by answering a rhetorical question from a hidden void in the brush a few feet from the trail where I was trying to justify the continued carrying of my camera by snapping pictures of insects, vegetation, and the surrounding landscape. The sun setting at the end of a long and wide valley behind rolling hills was as scenic as I had hoped it would be when I decided on my camp, it was a cold, windy night but I slept very well, my tent sheltered amongst the chaparral.

About ¾ of a liter of water remaining and 6 miles to the next source, so it would have been a great idea to head out early and beat the sun down to the bottom of the mountain. Accordingly, I got started the crack of 930 just as it was starting to get hot. I should really know better by now… Despite my latest failed early start the hiking was smooth and easy. Being nearly out of water and irresponsibly low on food, my pack was light and I felt like I was flowing down the mountain. I passed the 100 mile mark on the way down to Barrel Spring where I stopped to celebrate by drinking the last swallow of my water and snapping an enthusiastic selfie. Two more miles with an abrupt change in the local flora as I dipped into the valley from which the spring springs. There were roughly a dozen hikers lounging around in the shade of some large oak trees, eating, managing blisters, and drinking lots of cold, fresh, delicious spring water. There I ran into Ganga Grampa for the third, and likely final time, none of the other hikers from the previous night’s camp were present.

I dropped my pack in a shady spot near a large fallen tree limb, removed my shoes and socks, unnecessarily filtered and drank a couple liters of cool and delicious water, then returned to my makeshift bench to enjoy my lunch, such as it was. I was dining on a lump of melted and reformed gummy sharks nearly as cartilaginous as the real thing, though, much fruitier, presumably anyway, a melted snickers bar which I squeezed into my mouth, and last and mostly least the crumble of about 75% of a mystery pop tart. I saved a tortilla, a single serving slice of spam, and a packet of mayo for dinner…

During my break I met and chatted with a young couple from Utah, and a briefly trail named nurse from LA named Stephanie who very generously offered to share her foods with me when she heard that I was almost out, stupidly and pridefully I declined in favor of my superspamaritto.

I packed up and left the sprung around 1530 planning to make a few more miles so I would be strategically camped to attempt a quick and dirty cheeseburger raid on the town of Warner Springs at dawn… ish, anyway. The rest of the days hiking was relatively easy, the trail wound up through some low hills and down to a succession of 4 long grassy dales punctuated by rocky fins at most a couple dozen feet high. I stopped to take some pictures and was joined by a couple from oxford, an American and a European, whose particular variety I can’t recall. At mile 105ish I came to a beachy area abutting a small creek where, Stephanie, the briefly trail named nurse, and the Utatoe couple from earlier were camped with a hiker named Levi, and another called Shades, later we were joined by two hikers who unpatriotically camped on “the other side” of the stream. Food was cooked water was drunk, there was chitting, there was chatting, and just a bit of fat chewing to boot. The evening’s entertainment consisted of shades enthusiastically narrating her first experience with a new flavor of ramen, tortilla soup. Her technique was good and her delivery was solid enough to capture the undivided attention of four adults, the ramen looked delicious. As the last light started to fade we all were entented and I prepared and ate my spamuritto, it was delightful.

True to form I was last out of camp, the hiking was easy, or would have been if I were properly nourished. Hiking on an empty belly isn’t great for making miles. I was lethargic and my legs felt like they were made of cast iron, but cheeseburgers, so I kept hiking. About a mile out of Warner I arrived at Eagle Rock, which does in fact resemble an eagle… a lot. I took pictures of the hikers, the hikers took pictures of me, we took pictures of ourselves, and a couple of the eagle as well.

Spurred on by, you know, cheeseburgers… I pushed on and just outside of warner I suddenly had to shit the kind of shit that doesn’t give a shit if you feel like a shit or not, or how shitty the current location is for shitting. I paused long enough to look over my surroundings, I was 100’ from a fire department and 50’ from a road with little cover, so I steeled my buns and walked softly the last quarter mile to the resource center where I was immediately directed to this neat little room they have where people can poop without having to dig a hole first, then you push this lever and the poop goes away! It’s pretty neat.

I checked in and after strutting around for a few minutes sipping Gatorade and nibbling beef jerky like a bigshot, I went out into the yard to pitch my tent, literally, then headed across the football field and along an access road that surrounds the golf course arriving at THE restaurant in Warner Springs, the golf grill, adjacent is a convenience store, and next a post office, as near as I can tell this is the entire business district. The bacon cheeseburger was delicious, the fries were delicious, and the nachos were delicious though I couldn’t eat most of them because I forgot to ask for no cilantro. Be damned you foul soapy weed!

Returning to the resource center I met up with Stephanie, the briefly trail named nurse, and many other hikers, we sat near a rabbit nursery, there was chitting there was chatting some illicit beers were consumed and I heard a rumor about a cannabist cannabizing but this cannot be confirmed. It got dark and cold, Stephanie, the briefly trail named nurse, was picked up by her husband for a break in LA, and Manson was picked up by his girlfriend and returned to civilization to pursue an activity called work. I got off to bed shortly after.

Zero day- I bought new socks, washed my clothes in a bucket, ate stuff, managed a resupply, drank stuff, considered the gravity of gravity etc. and was entented rather early.

Next morning I woke up to my tent covered in dew and my down quilt wet with condensation, and as I was getting ready to pack up I was informed of a fundraising spaghetti dinner, which prompted me to hang around and leave in the late afternoon. Thru hiker portions were promised, but sadly not delivered, I’m happy to have been able to give a little back to the community that does so much to make this hike a little easier, and all 9 or so of the sophomore class seemed very nice, but the food was comically bad. Though in fairness I ate every bit, except what I now believe to have been a dinner roll. 25% sated I tightened up my laces and headed out to get a few miles in before the sun set. The first few miles were through grassy rolling meadows, then under a freeway bridge and along a trickling river and across what I believe to be an out of season boy scout camp. There I found a very nice camp spot under a large oak tree; I set up and was sound asleep by last light. I awoke to the sound of dawn hikers and decided uncharacteristically to join them. Climbing out of the valley I was camped in was sheltered and cool and went quickly

I made it to lost valley spring, in Lost Valley where I ran into a couple of young tallahaseans that I had met in warner. For some reason in warner I had decided that on trail would be a great place to try sardines for the first time… I was mistaken, seriously mistaken. I made a sardine and mayo and string cheese burrito which was inedible. I buried it and ate other things. After lounging with the tallahassers for a couple hours I packed up and climbed back up to the trail where I ran into Michael and his wife Carol Lee also again after warner. They were setting up and I was moving on, I climbed a couple miles and found a spot just off the trail in the chaparral and was sound asleep by 1800. Next morning, low o water I headed out fairly early and managed the 6ish miles into Mikes place by 1100, I filtered some water at the tank then walked down to the house and had an ice cold Coors, which is still The Banquet Beer, though curiously, still no one knows why. I thought about moving on but it was impossible, hikers came in all day and much was discussed… mostly blisters, and food, but mostly blisters.

Many of us camped and the night was cold and foggy. Last out of camp again I climbed up and over a mountain, still in the clouds, it was cool and I felt pretty good climbing for the first time. On the way down the other side I ran into Fuckin’ Really Old Guy, or FROG for short, we hiked together for a while and after an early lunch decided to camp together, we have a similar pace and it was nice to hike with someone for a change. After stopping and descending to filter some horrible spring water that smelled of sulfur and tasted of iron and copper, like the taste you get in your mouth with a bloody nose, it made me gag and I tried to avoid drinking it. FROG left before me and I caught up as he was making camp.

Next morning I was antsy to get on trail because of how good I felt hiking the day before. I wanted to push it a little and see if my trail legs were coming in. we agreed on a spot to meet and I headed out, the hiking was good, there was a long climb that I slowed up for but otherwise I made very good time and found myself at the Sandy Truck Road water cache, where I changed out my fetid water for some that was delightfully fresh. I decided it was a nice spot for a break, so I fired up some music and pulled out a few snacks. Listening to The police, cold, and suddenly overcome with a fit of joy I found myself dancing… alone… in the desert… with a bottle of water… luckily no hikers showed up but I was forced to awkwardly exchange waves with a couple in a pickup that happened by, I can only imagine what I sight I must have been… suddenly in the mood to hike again I got moving and covered the next two miles to Walden quickly. Walden was set up just off trail by a local trail angel called Mary. She has supplied a water tank for hikers and horses, a couple picnic tables, a small library, and planted a couple of cottonwood trees that will be big enough to provide a great shady reading spot in a couple of years. I was greeted by two charming fellows, a W Whitman and one H.D. Thoreau… I ate again, hung up some of my sweaty clothes to dry, and got into a book containing the biography of Matsuo Basho, one of the the great writers of haiku from Japanese antiquity, as well as a collection of his writings and notes on travelling the Japanese countryside. I will have to read more of and on him. The library also has many take away copies of Song Of Myself, by Walt Whitman, from Leaves Of Grass, which I think is pretty damn fantastic, in both ways that that can be read… (I’m pretty sure that last sentence makes sense… not so sure it’s sensible though…)

After a couple hours and a few visits from and with more hurried hikers, FROG came along and had a little break before heading out, I wasn’t far behind and caught him on the first downhill where he’s slower than I. we decided on a camp spot and hiked together to our camp. It was exposed and lumpy and full of the kind of grass that gets stuck in everything (what the hell is that stuff called?) I was cold and went to bed directly after a peanut butter and Nutella tortilla for dinner. The next morning was cold, windy, and misty… I was in no hurry to leave the warmth of my quilt so I said goodbye to frog from inside my tent and lazed around for a while until the lure of… can you guess? Yep… cheeseburgers enticed me out into the cold wind. 6 miles including a road walk… I made very good time climbing further into the clouds and then down to the boundary of the Anza Borrego Desert where I bunched up with 6 other hikers. All anxious for hot foods we all lined up and headed down the road attempting and failing at what would have been an epic 7 smelly hiker hitch.

Paradise Valley Café… I dropped my pack switched to a slightly less damp and smelly shirt, and slotted in to a bar seat. I ordered a big salad and the Jose burger (though, it turns out I should have ordered the Gus burger, because a little later, THE Gus of Gus burger fame showed up and I caught a ride up to Idyllwild with him) the food was amazing, but not wanting to spoil my appetite, I decided not to order anything else. With a few minutes to kill while Gus was asking around if anyone else wanted a ride, I requested the bathroom key and headed off to attend to some serious business. And serious business it was… my ultra-healthy hikers diet has given me the ability to produce poops that rival depleted uranium in weight and density and that poor commode was no match for a man of my, uh, caliber, as it were… knowing there was a line outside, I prepared myself and stepped out. I had to quickly tuck the key behind my back as the poor Scandinavian hiker next in line reached for it, while deftly pivoting to close the door behind myself, all the while muttering something about “…out of order, sorry…” and making a quick escape back to the restaurant proper- I handed the key over to the waitress and sheepishly apologized and told her it was in need of a plunger or some TNT, apparently this is a common problem as she didn’t flinch and just handed the key to the poor schlep who had the bad luck to be closest at the time and said “sorry, bathroom needs you again”

I pulled my hat low and exited quickly, grabbed my pack, tossed it into Gus’s pickup and joined 3 other hikers for the ride up the hill, as the locals say.

Ahh Idyllwild, I think I love you







Entry 4 of 4
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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:


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