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City: Laguna Niguel
Begins: Apr 23, 2010
Date: Thu, Sep 30th, 2010
Start: Sonora Pass
End: Ebbet's Pass
Trip Distance: 184.0
Entry Visits: 2,783
Journal Visits: 37,591
Guestbook Views: 1,860
Guestbook Entrys: 49
“The terrain began to change as we covered the miles this morning.
Sierra granite gave way to dark volcanic rock, and the soil became
Granite and Terrapin’s Journal July 13, 2010
Conversion to Section Hiker is easier (and more humbling) when you compare your section mileage with that of Through Hikers who have already walked down your chosen bit of path. We started out at Sonora Pass and terminated at Ebbet’s pass, a mere 33 miles. Reviewing the Journals for the year, Through Hikers were burning Through this section in two days maximum. My group did it in three. On the other hand, we started late in the morning, we had a blazing campfire every night, cooked gourmet dishes, stayed up talking into the evening, and took the time to take some pics, and even took a few hours for lunch and a dip in the creek. Lazy Days Indeed. The only thing missing was the wine.
One thing I wondered about were the observations and mental states of those Through Hikers on the trail at the point of my entry so I went back and reviewed the journals. For most Through Hikers, this section appeared to be a footnote between Sonora Pass (sprinkled with a possible visit to Bridgeport in early July) and Tahoe. Granite and Terrapin observed the uniqueness of the section and it’s volcanic difference from the rougher and tougher granite Sierra south of Tuolumne. For them the porous Volcanic terrain was not only a refreshing change, but also a blessing, because melting snow was draining into the more porous volcanic rock thus reducing standing water and decreasing mosquitoes. It’s three months later & nearly October now, and flowing water is actually starting to be scarce in this section. Mosquitoes are a non-issue at this point in the season and we never bothered to even open up the DEET.
My group consisted of a brother near my age and a good friend of his son who has a commitment to the Marines & could not join in the fun. The “older” guys had 65 year old legs to deal with while the younger guy had not yet learned the virtues of really good socks & especially never heard that cotton socks suck. Between his many debilitating blisters and two pairs of really old legs, we held a steady, if not, slow pace through a very beautiful section on the PCT that was showing fall colors: bright yellows, deep greens, oranges, and reds against the ochre volcanic rocks. Our young friend managed to use 10 days worth of Duct Tape in just three days of hiking, but he kept his spirits up despite pain & never complained.
The only negatives were that this section is leased to cattle ranchers who run their cattle into the various drainages. They tended to trample a lot of vegetation and left unpleasant pies behind sometimes in or near water. On the other hand, I did like their bells which managed a strange three part harmony through the night. This is also the season for hunters to try to bag a male deer. We had one “ambush” us from a ridge above us with a loud yell asking us if we had seen any deer. “Yes,” we said, all women. After that I wished my brown hat was bright red, and I whistled a lot while going around bends in the trail.
Along the way we met “Sparrow” and “Blind Pig.” If I understood them right, Blind Pig is the retired founder of Blind Pig records, a famous blues outlet. Sparrow is a section hiker in her tenth year of hiking the trail and was within a few hundred miles of completing the PCT. Let’s see now, that’s about 260 miles per year for Sparrow, and I’m now up to 184 for the year. The year is not over: stay tuned.
All’s well that ends well, especially when you finish 33 miles with a cool glass of Chardonnay at the Bridgeport Inn & sink into a cozy bed at the Inn before the ride home. Ahhh, section hiking.
Thanks for reading,
150 Days & Nights On The Pacific Crest Trail
"...is the picture a tenth of the thing? A hundredth? Is it anything without the smell and salt breeze and the yellow warmth when the fog lifts? Oh, but I got all that too. It is exposed forever on the sensitive emulsion sheet of my mind." Terry and Renny Russell, On the Loose 1967
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