Jackrabbit Hikes: PCT Day 5-7
Day 5 – Tent Site (Mile 63.6) – Scissors Crossing (Mile 77.3)
So I woke up in the California valley dry as bone. Just as I wanted it cowboy camping. The valley kept the sunrise off of us just a bit longer and the whole site was happy to have some extra time out of the beating sun. A great start to a great day.
I hiked hard and fast to get to Scissors Crossing and eventually Julian, CA. It’s amazing looking out across a true desert valley. You can see for miles and the horizon seems so close; it makes for a misleading last couple miles to the road. The mountains created a bowl around the desert valley.
I made it to Scissor’s Crossing early in the day and wanted to make it to town ASAP. I called the first shuttle number I could find. Lucky for me, I got picked up by a shuttle driver in a small Corolla with “Yota” etched across the steering wheel. CJ from South Carolina. He made my Arkansas accent seem light. I told him some other hikers were coming and we introduced ourselves. A few moments later, we packed his Corolla 5 deep and we were Julian bound.
Finally, I got my hands on some replacement stakes at the gear shop in Julian, so my tent is officially back in business. But before I did that, I had to claim my free slice of pie at Mom’s Pies. Julian had everything I needed and I spent most of the afternoon bumming electricity on a bench outside the market. Everything in Julian is so condensed; it is perfect for someone who can only get around on their feet.
I ended up in the perfect first stay: Stagecoach RV Park. A barren RV park in the middle of a flat desert valley with a bright blue swimming pool. It was something out of a Wes Anderson film. I got my laundry done, showered, finished charging electronics, and slept in an A/C’d bunk. All for under $25. We sat in the desolate RV park in the shade yapping away as we rested our beaten feet. Most people’s feet are still soft early in the hike so they’re was some camaraderie found in blister complaints.
I’m meeting more and more hikers and running into friends again and again now. It’s nice to have a set of familiar faces now that I can run into often. My habits are slowly forming and each item of mine is developing a permanent location in my pack. I’m loving it so far. The PCT provides.
Day 6 – Scissors Crossing (Mile 77.3) – Barrel Springs (Mile 101.1)
Me, Carlos, Mike and Ryan all woke up in the bunkhouse as the sun rose. Carlos and Mike were taking a zero but me and Ryan were locked and loaded. I called CJ and the Yota came skirting into the RV park 10 minutes later. Now that’s service.
He took us back to Scissor’s Crossing and then our job was to go up the mountains encasing the other side of the mountain. The PCT does not take you up and over mountains, but rather you skirt the entire side of the mountains as you make your way up. A long winding, gradual climb. 14 mi to the first water source. The normal for this section of the trail.
The hike was unique. Because we were roping all around the mountain, you could see the trail roping in front and behind you. You could look back and see the hikers hiking up behind you or see hikers miles ahead of you. It was great. If you were curious about the person you passed was catching up, turn around. If you were wondering if so-and-so is still ahead of you, squint those eyes and see if you can see they’re pack reflecting in the light.
After a cozy 14 mi, I grabbed some water at the only source for the day, a cache provided by a local angel. A large group of hikers gathered at the top of the water walk where most of us took a short-form siesta. I finally made my down to the only water on the way today. And in reality, there should be no water in this 23 mile stretch but a CA trail angel was gracious enough to set up the cache we rested at. I left a tip, got my 3L, and I was back to hiking.
10 more miles put me at Barrel Springs and just past the 100mi mark. 100 miles down. Insanity. I sat down at the 100mi mark and closed my eyes. Loving every mile more than the last. I just can’t reiterate how nice it is to be back to the simple and routine life of backpacking.
I got my first trail magic at Barrell Springs at 6:45 pm. I was so wiped after the long day and coming down into camp at almost 7:00 trail magic was the last thing I expected. I couldn’t believe they were still set up. Loki and Lolo were 2019 PCT hikers who decided to come set up. They had all the goodies in the world and they were in a great spot. You could tell they had experience hiking or feeding hikers.
“Hell yeah hiker, 100 miles!!!”
All I need is a reason to celebrate after a day like that. After a tequila shot and at least 2000 calories, my favorite day so far came to a close.
April 6th 2022 was a damn, damn good day.
Day 7 – Barrel Springs (Mile 101.1) – Agua Caliente Creek (Mile 112.6)
Me, Graham, Justin, Ryan, and a new face Connor (great name) all woke up in Barrel Springs and began the slow process of talking and packing our things. The frogs in the spring gave us a symphony all night and they played with weird synchronicity. Wild life is weird sometimes. They weren’t as eager to play for us in the morning though, I guess they were shy and only like it when we can’t see them in the night.
Me and Graham walked the 100 yards to the street to wait for the Montezuma market to open so we could get our first resupply. As we were waiting a nearby utility worker came out of the woods in his truck and offered us a ride. Perfection. My first hitch in the bed of a truck with a pile of hikers this season. There is something to be said about riding in the back of the truck with strangers heading to some place you’ve never been before. It stamps a smile on your face every time.
Wonder Woman ran the market and had the best selection so far. She had all the hiker fixins’. I got all my preferred food choices quickly and grabbed a philly cheesesteak to microwave. Wonder Woman told us about the locals and this valley had been used for generational cattle farming. A lot of the land in this area has been owned by the same families for years. It was interesting, this slice of America remained unchanged for a long time she explained. I gazed out across the desert, not a lot for cattle to eat but maybe I haven’t hit the meadows yet.
When Wonder Woman ran us back to the trail, we pulled up on the best sight I’ve ever seen. Lolo and Loki returned!!! They were back in the morning cooking breakfast and emptying out all the goodies that had survived the first round of magic. I sat there all morning with my friends and got to know the angels. Lolo insisted we all get our fingernails painted if we wanted to continue to munch on the snacks. No problem from me and soon enough 15 dirty hikers had a fresh coat on all ten fingernails. Me and Graham could have gotten a fine from California with all the loitering we did this morning. All we did was sit around and meet other hikers piling up at the trailhead. The angels set up at the same spot Wonder Woman was making market runs so hikers were coming and going all morning. It was fantastic to just relax and cancel the hiking plans for the day.
Me and Graham finally made our way back on trail around 1:00-2:00. Just in time for the beating sun, woohoo! We didn’t care, we had fully bellies and the vibes were through the roof. A mile or two on trail we ran into the meadows Wonder Woman was referring to. They were spectacular. Field of green stretching out for miles towards the mountains on the horizon. Watching the tall grass roll across the valley like a tide moving in. It gives the green field a shimmering effect.
Eagle Rock sat alone and proud in the middle of the field we were walking across. A great spot for some shade and a cool picture. Because, you know, ‘Murica. We coasted the rest of the short day into the sunset. I love hiking around sunset, however, that typically means I’ve been hiking for 12 hours so I’m typically too spent to appreciate it as much. Not today. A beautiful orange cast across the meadows. We rolled up to Aqua Caliente creek right as the sun set and dark sat in. I cooked dinner under the red light of my headlamp and finally pitched my tent again. It’s nice having a sil-poly roof above my head again.
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