Day 5

Worked out that I will have to leave the trail at Scissors Crossing on Wednesday.  My goal of Warner Springs will have to be left for another time. 

Had my pack all ready to go for the morning.   Jumped out of bed at 5:30a, showered, and was out of the place by 6:30ish.  Was all layered up due to the chill, but at least no rain.   The big challenge on this segment will be water.   There are only three somewhat reliable places between mile 40 (Laguna) and 75 (Scissors Crossing).   So I guzzled almost 2 literes before leaving and had 2 liters in the platypus + 3L in bottles.   

What would have made it a GREAT start would be a breakfast burrito at this place…. 

No Breakfast For You


Munching granola bars, I reconnected to the trail and headed south.   The scenery was groovy.   Wet, but no standing water.  Pine trees in the mist.   Cool brisk morning.   Pink Floyd was the right music to power this segment.    

I was making good time but my zen kept getting interrupted by 5 minute warnings from my phone about pending calls on my work calendar.   7:25 ding….Support Escalations call.  8:55 ding…something or other, 9:55 ding…our daily QA call.   Forgot to delete all this stuff before I left, so I got a chuckle out of it all.   

Back on the trail
Back on the trail
Water, yeah right


Around 9:30, I stopped at mile 48.   This place was supposed to have a working faucet.   I kept stomping on valve, but no water.   Opened up the ground cover hatches and finally found the culprit.   Valve was closed and the good people of the park service had put a gigantic lock on it.   Thanks alot.


Decided it was time for a little brunch.   This was where I spent my time during the daily QA call.    Maybe I should mark my time in the future based on things I would normally be doing at work?   

My Conference Room




Walked along for a bit and ran into a Luke and his dog out for a day hike.   Nice kid had a good chat.  He blew past me and never saw him again. 

Luke and friend


Watch the finger, John

Next attempt for water was at 52’s Pioneer picnic area.   Only thing I found was a horse trough with some water from a rusted tank on the hill.   By then I was down to 2 Liters, so I loaded up on the horse water.   Hope my filter works.   

Guess this will do


I ran into a fox watching me from a rock in the middle of the trail.   His head was poked up above a bolder only 30 feet in front of me.  Perfect picture.   So I grabbed my iphone, got through the password, turned on the camera, and….the f^$%#ing thing started prompting me to reconfirm my iCloud email / password.   By the time I figured out wtf was going on the fox took off.    I snapped a couple of photos of him climbing the rocks.  If you can find him in the picture, you get a prize.   Thanks alot Apple. 

See the fox?


Here is a cool pano of around the area where the fox may or may not have been seen. 


The trail was a mixture of easy walking, sandy/smooth rock and sprinkled with a sections of densely spaced, loose, fist-sized rocks on steep downward slopes.   There was little room to manuever, so I kept having visions of making the wrong step choice and ending up with a twisted ankle.    Had a couple close calls here.

Let’s Do The Twist

I’m realizing that to do this hike, I have to keep up a brisk pace (~3 mph or so).   Given the trail is almost all single-track, it requires a lot of concentration.   I tend to only look about 10 to 15 feet in front of me and I’m always thinking about the next 2 to 3 steps I’ll take.   If I give more than a glance at the scenary, there is a danger of making the wrong step.   I almost rolled my ankle on one of those moments.   The only time to take it all in is during the pauses, otherwise it has to be concentration on the next step. 

 I find it fascinating that this is similar to off-roading on my GS or snow skiing.   All three activities have a cone allowable action where the actor can adjust the motion of the object  (me) with the terrain limited by physics (weight, speed, and vector).  Off a bit and it can be corrected.  Off a lot and you crash the bike, splatter on the slopes, or, in this particular case, roll your ankle and press the SOS button on the Delorme. For hiking the cone seems to extend no more than 10 feet, for skiing moguls (at my skill level) it is about 20, and for Enduro riding on this kind of trail it woud be about 50 to 75 feet.  I’d like to get into my theory about the width of the cone in this model, but you are bored already. 

Anyway after things are dialed in and working on semi-automatic, I get into a zone where a portion of the visual/cognitive gray matter is dealing with the present while some leftover bit is available to wonder about other stuff.  What to write on this blog. Who comes out here and works on these miles and miles of trail.  Why my wife puts up with all my shenanigans.  Is Pink Floyd’s music better without Roger Walters (I think yes, btw).  

And that is the cool thing about hiking.  I get to hang out with this wierd bit of myself.  

So, I found this toothbrush on the trail.   


For miles I’ve seen only one set of fresh North bound footprints.   The guy (I think) is wearing heavy boots and using poles.   I grabbed the toothbrush hoping to reunite the two and get a good story + pic.    Well the boot prints headed off to Sunrise Trailhead at mile 59 and the toothbrush was left on a conspicuous rock.   

Kept hiking through dusk.  I like night hiking with the headlamp.   Limits visual interference in the cone.   What cone?  Go back and reread my hiking theory!!!!   

Had a nice view of San Diego’s lights in the distance from a ridge top.   My photography skills blow, so here is a black picture with a smear of light for your amusement. 


Found some really nice campsites next to a wash in a deep valley around mile 63.   I have a bad feeling this the mico-climate here is going to be colder than the surrounding area, but it is too good to pass up.   Did 22 miles today !    Only ~13 more till my pickup.      

Day 4

Woke up at 6am.   Man I am sore.   It is not the localized sort of sore, it is the full-body kind.   Popped some vitamin I and loosened up a bit.   Everything was clean and dry ready for the day. 

Let’s go!

I checked outside to see if the storm had passed and saw this instead.

Hell no

It is cold out there.  And windy.  And the rains supposed to continue until 5pm.  And…I’m STAYING IN THIS ROOM TONIGHT.  The guys at the store/cabin rental got a good laugh at my decision.  I suppose it was worth it, since they gave me a $30 discount on the room tonight.    Always a bright side. 

I am loaded up with frozen burritos and hot pockets for the day.    Going to do some replanning since I’m not going to make Warner Springs by Wed.    In a little while I’ll watch this tiny ass TV for a bit.    

 Spent some time at the store chatting with John and his brother who own the operation.  Got a lot of lore about PCT’ers coming through in the herd during April and May.   Folks throwing up from the climb, begging for rooms, buy out all his supplies, and other sorts of mayhem.   He told me that before the Warner Springs resort closed, it was known as the best hiker boxes on the route because folks would throw their entire pack into the box and head for the airport home.   

I’m rather relieved that I’ll miss it.   I’ve been thinking one of the benefits of sectioning the first bit is to by-pass all the nooblets (of which I am currently one of).   I figure that after 150/200 miles, a significant number of folks who “read some book and decided to hike” will be gone.  Then it is left to the rest of us who really want to do the whole thing but haven’t a clue if we can.   That about fits my profile.  

Big John, master of pct lore


Day 3

Ahh a glorious day.   Today I head up to Mt Laguna at mile 40.   Lot of elevation change on this one, so probably slow going.    As I was packing up a couple of lady hikers stopped by to gawk at my camp site.    They are training for a Southbound attempt next year.    They took off about 10 minutes before me and I never saw them again.  Maybe my pack is a little heavy.  

Was a little cloudy in the morning, so the solar charger didn’t give me the battery love I hoped for.   In direct sun, while stationary, it will charge my phone in an hour.  I strapped it on my pack and eventually got a full charge.   

First stop was at mile 30, Kitchen Creek road.   I had dumped some water there last week and sure enough it was undisturbed.    Drank a liter and topped up with 4 for the climb ahead.  Chatted with Charles-the-deer-hunter for a few minutes.   He had a doe tag, but was running out of time.   He said he had until Sundown before the season ends.    He mentioned that he saw the two gals I met earlier.  They were happy to hear that bambi was still breathing.    

I think this is good advice


A couple of guys hiking up to Laguna and I kept lapping each other throughout the day.  Not very talkative.   Had a USB speaker blaring talk radio.   Got rained on a couple times while climbing.   Just a 10/15 minute downpour, then it would let up.   Kept the trail dust down which was nice.   My big worry was getting to Laguna and finding a cabin.   The Delorme said a storm was coming in and I’m not to keen to sleep out in it.  

Pack cover on
This doesn’t look good


Rock mitosis


What is this sculpture trying to say?

Finally hit the tree line.   Nice loamy ground, some shade.  Around mile 38 I sucked my hydro pack dry and was down to half a liter in a bottle.    It was getting late and I really wanted that cabin, so I picked up the pace.  


Bailed off the trail around mile 40, hiked into town and stopped at a cafe.   Asked about lodging 

Cafe Dude says, “Quarter of mile down the road.   They close at 5, but sometimes they leave early.”

Me, “What time is it.” 

Dude, “4:30” 

Me, “F$%#$%” 

No cabin for you

I jammed out of the cafe and hightailed it up the road.   The first lodge was indeed closed for the night, but fortunately I the other was open.    Paid, settled in, ran back to the cafe for the obligory burger, then did some laundry in the “magic bucket”.   According to owner, the Magic Bucket, with its included detergent, will clean up my clothes to sparkling freshness! 

Slice of Heaven

I walked back to the Cafe and got a burger and beer before they closed.   I finally resolved my dilemma about the $20 bill I found on the trail.   I tipped the kitchen staff with it.   If anyone felt a disturbance in the Force on Sunday night, I’m pretty sure it was that.   Good to have my Karma zeroed out. 

Magic Bucket doing its thing

It is cold and windy out.   I’m warm in my bed.   All is good. 

Day 2

Up at 630.    Made some breakfast, charged my electronics, and on the trail a little before 8.   



On My Way
On My Way


Made great progress for the first half of the day.   But I could feel a nasty rash developing all over my butt.  It kept feeling worse and I was getting concerned.   Stopped and took a pic to see how bad it was.   There in 5 megapixel glory was my super rashy, red Ass.   I’ve included a pic below.   Just kidding.   Anyway as an after thought, I packed a set of light weight running shorts just to have a backup while in town.   I put those on underneath and the problem was solved.  Whew!

Hydrating the Desert
Hydrating the Desert

Dropped into a canyon at 12.  Nice and shady on the way down.

That climb is going to suck

I was bumming a little thinking about the exposed climb ahead of me.   It was around noon and though the temp was a nice 70 f, I knew it was going to be miserable.  Near the bottom, I came across a nice platform of boulders and sitting next to them was this: 

Hell Ya!!


TIme for lunch.   Munching away, a trail runner stopped by.   Surprise, it was Tim, the guy I met last week when I was dropping water on the trail.   Small world.   He and I chatted for 30 minutes while I ate and drank my suds.   He gave me some pointers for the next 20 miles then took off.    The guy was doing an 18 mile run.  I give him a 9 on the stud-scale. 

I run 18 miles for fun
I run 18 miles for fun


"Lake" Marino
“Lake” Marino
The Marino Pond
The Marino Pond


Walked to Lake Marino’s town store, cafe, liqour store and had an awesome burger.  Wish I would have taken a pic, but I was a starving.    Nice folks there.   Grabbed some water, gatorade, and a couple of candy bars then headed back to the trail out of town.  I keep thinking about that $20 I found.   It is bad Karma to spend it, so what to do?

Listening to the Best of Pearl Jam, I was making great time on this flat sandy soil.   After 45 minutes or so I stopped and chatted with 3 folks riding horses.   They departed with “Enjoy your walk”.   I walked on for another 5 minutes but kep thinking back.   Everyone I met on the trail ask if I’m a PCT’er.   These folks didn’t.  “Enjoy your walk” hmm….   Better check my GPS and…Shhhiiiittt!!    I’m almost a mile off the trail.

Wrong way, John
Wrong way, John

According to Halfmile’s app, I’ve gone generally 2 miles north on the trail, but  .9 miles to the West of it.   So I can either go back or try to find it.   I’ll be damn if I’m going back, so East it is.   

I turned on the compass function of Halfmiles app so it kept me pointed in the right direction.   The only bummer is that I could visibly see my power dropping on my iPhone.   The continuous GPS sucks alot of juice.  I only have my solar panel, so if my iphone dies, I have to camp whereever I am until sunrise.  

I followed some double track in the general direction, which turned into single track, then into a stream bed.  That ended in a box canyon full of brush.  Only .3 miles to go….   So I started bolder climbing up (maybe a hundred feet elevation gain) and finally got a glimpse of the trail.

Climbed from there
Climbed from there
Up this


And through that (PCT is that brown bare spot)
And through that (PCT is that brown bare spot)

Last 200 feet was a bramble of dried bushes and small trees.   I just put my head down and crashed through.  I stumbled out of the last bit and Halfmile App says I’m good.  Battery says no more music tonight.    

Got close to highway 8 and gave Alice a call.   By then it was dark and had the headlamp on.   Told her everything was fine, left out the bit about getting lost 🙂   Walked up to the ridgeline above Freeway 8 and made camp at a really nice site at Mile ~26.   No pics due to battery restrictions. 

Day 1

Steve and Maria dropped me off at the Southern terminus today at about 4pm.  There were 2 guys there celebrating completing the south bound route with their friends.  The hikers looked kind of hungry….like a couple months of hungry.  We chatted for a few minutes, but I wanted to get started and, frankly, they didn’t want to talk about the trail.    Can’t blame them. 

Trail Angels Steve and Maria


I started walking.   The area was cross-crossed with dirt roads and paths.   After about 10 minutes the south bounders drove by in a car and told me I was going the wrong way.   Great start, John.   

2,649 more to go

After a couple miles I looked down and found this.  

Getting paid to hike

My goal was to get 6 to 8 miles in before I camped.   I know there was a big climb ahead and wanted to put that behind me.  Trail was generally flat for a few, then started climbing.   Sundown came a little before 6:00, so I put on the headlamp turned up the music, and leaned into it.   

So far I had not seen a soul on the trail or lights, etc beside it.  All alone.   I have an excellent singing voice when wearing earbuds.   It gets even better when the volume is turned up.  

At around mile 6 or so I was in the middle of bellowing out a song from Rush 2112.  I rounded a switchback and noticed a headlamp shining on me from the bushes below the turn I just passed.   I stopped, pulled out the earbuds, and shined mine back.   Couldn’t see a thing and neither could the other person.  

Me, “Howdy” 

Girl in the bushes, “Hi” 

“Camping for the night?” 


Me, “Sorry if I scared you.” 

“Yes you scared me a little” 

“Ok, I’m leaving” 

I figured the best thing for Scared Girl was for me to leave asap.   Had this image of her preparing to lunge at me with her spork.  Earbuds back in, singing voice recovered, back to 2112. 

Me “……..Another toy….to help Destroy…. the Elder Race of Maaaan…..”  

Made the top of the ridge line and camped for the night.  Little light pollution.  Could make out the milky way.