All posts by John Baum

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.  

Supply Ride Day 2

Up at 7am, broke camp and on the road by 830.   Talked to a ranger who suggested a good dirt ride starting at Viejas Blvd behind Perkins Store in Descaso.   I put the coordinates into the GPS.  Unfortunately, I tried routing my other waypoints around it and ended up riding back and forth around Mt Laguna and wasted  bunch of time.  Maybe next time.

Decided to skip one of the drops North of Laguna since there is a water tap there.  While roaming around I stopped and chatted with a few gals doing a section hike.   They said they are doing the PCT in 10 mile chunks and figure they’ll be done in about 10 years.  Heh.   

See Ya in Canada

Of my other two drops, got one done at mile 30.  Chatted with a south bound hiker who was just finishing up.  He was bitching there was no reliable water in an earlier stretch (where I have already put water).   He now had bottles dangling from all over his pack and straps.   Wish I’d gotten a pic, but he jammed out after a 5 minute conversation.  


Buried Treasure

Last drop finally required some off road riding.  After 5 miles on the dirt I hit a gate with less than 1 mile to go.   Oh well.

After all the dicking around, it was already noon so I decided to make my way back North.   I always wanted to see the Salton Sea, so I routed out that way. I’ve seen the pictures and had this image in my mind of huge disappointment.  The GPS put this as the center of the Sea. 

The GPS Says I’m on the Beach

Off to Salton City.  Must be some Salton Sea action there?   There was this sign by the highway on “main street”

Alice has been bugging me about living by the water.   Could this be our opportunity?   Cris-crossing the empty desert landscape are streets named after watery paradises like Honolulu street, Maui blvd, Monterrey street, etc.  

And here we have one of the lovely estates in the “keys”.  

Here’s the view

Dreams Evaporating Away

This house includes a boat dock! 

Waiting for the Tide to Come

Wow, sign me up.   For some reason, I love finding these gravestones to human folly.  A sea created by accident, which was clearly going to disappear eventually, spawned a few hundred shacks and a grid of empty, decaying streets in the middle of a hot, windy, desert.   Things like this are scattered all over California.   Hopefully I’ll be a little better writing about them in the future. 

For further reading, this is a good article about that special magic of the Salton Sea.

BTW, I sent the photos to Alice.   I don’t think we’ll make an offer.  

Oddly enough there is a thriving tourism business here.   Folks riding Razors and Quads in the dust bowl.  After lunch at the only restaurant I could find, I chatted with a couple about the riding (all flat and sandy).  Got a picture of their two bobble heads in the back seat.  The little guy in the foreground thought he should be driving. 

I left at 3:00 and don’t plan to return any time soon.   From here it was 90 mph most of the way to the 10, through palm springs, Riverside, then 210 back home at 7:00.   Traffic was bad from Riverside onward, so about 70 miles of lane splitting stress.  

From a riding point of view, I saw several good spots in Cleveland forest area.  I’d like to go back there again.   The bad news is that traffic getting to/from is insanely bad.  Next time, I’ll have to plan for crossing this mess only in the very early mornings.

Route Summary


Supply Ride Day 1

Left a little late from T.O.   Most of the ride sucked.   Lane splitting from Agura until Temecula.   Finally at around 4:00, I left humanity and rode a nice 2 lane to Warner Springs.   On the way there, this caught my eye.    

Raptor Mechs

This, uh, desert artist has been slaving away on these metal sculptures for decades.  The detail on some of these is amazing.  All for sale if you have $3k to $20k.

Buy Me

Outside Warner, I arrived at my first drop point.    Goal is to bury some water where I can find it next week.    Walked over to the biggest tree next to the road and saw this

Doing Their Part

Way to leave no trace, boys and girls.    If you look closely there were also little bits of used TP laying around and lots of 1ft diameter piles of distrubed earth.   Wonder what that dirt covered…..    I carefully selected a spot with no undisturbed earth then made my move.   

Here is the booty ready to be covered

On to the next spot 

Was getting dark so I started toward MT Laguna.   As I climbed, temp kept dropping.  By Lake Cuyamaca, it was 42 and that was enough.   Setup for the night.     Tomorrow I’ll make 3 more drops then see if I can find some dirt to ride on.