Day 2: Potable Water
Day 2 – March 3rd, 2022
- Start @ 7 am – mile 16.7
- 1st break @ 8:10 am – Lake Morena mile 20 for breakfast, about 20 mins
- 2nd break @ 10:55 am – Boulder Oaks, mile 26.1 till 12:25 pm for lunch, a phone chat with husband, update insta, call lodge about space
- 3rd break @ 2:20 pm – Upper Kitchen Creek for 30 mins to soak feet, get water, take Tylenol
- End @ 5:30 pm – mile 34.3 for 17.6 miles today, camped in same spot I did last year
- People I met: Met men named Tony & Patrick
- MVP: Apple Watch for alerting me to high noon / potable water
The day started out early for me.
Another night of only 5 hours of sleep. I hope this changes soon. Camp got broken down and I hit the trail by 7 am, a big win for me since I’m usually a 9 am gal and I really want to hit these desert sections earlier for heats sake.
I had finished a good portion of that rough climb out of Hauser Creek the night before so I quickly hit the crest. The weather in the morning was crisp and cool but not uncomfortable, no wonder people are eager to be early birds. The 3 miles I had left to Lake Morena cruised by in an easy fashion.
When I arrived there were a few stragglers, mostly people waiting on other people. Some debating to stick around and weather out the predicted coming storm. This is where I met a nice gentleman named Tony who said I could ask him his name 100 times and it’d be ok. I didn’t stay long since the water wasn’t potable, I still had about a liter left from my 4 I left with at the border, and with how the weather was I wanted to capitalize on it for miles. My “plan” was to reach Mount Laguna and hunker down there, thinking I’d rather have dry snow than wet rain, and also retreat to higher ground since I have a propensity for setting my tent up in places water likes to pool. I checked weather reports and the advisory didn’t start till Friday night/Saturday morning at midnight till Sunday 2 am, so I had time.
The next section went much like I remember.
Last year I had hiked the roughly 75 mile section from Campo to Scissors Crossing in early May. For some reason this stretch stayed pretty clear in my mind from the first time around. Eventually around 9 am it started to get warm so I busted out my umbrella. This section is much more open so it wasn’t catching on every bush I passed. There are so many beautiful oak trees along this part, I thought it’s a shame they aren’t more clustered together to give more shade but the sight of them dappling the open fields is picturesque.
I didn’t encounter any hikers, only a couple on horseback and a rogue calf or two from the neighboring farm. As I rolled into Boulder Oaks around 11, a few clouds decided to diffuse the sun just as it was hitting its peak. Finally I had reached potable water just as I was finishing up my first 4 liters.
The picnic table in the shade of the trees is where I dismounted my pack and decided to rest. I pulled out my lunch and in rolled a tall, skinny man with a tiny Swiss flag hanging from his pack and a long red beard dominating his face: Patrick. (If you’re reading this, Hi Patrick!) We got to know each other, both of us decided we wanted to push forward and see where we landed for the day.
He took off a bit ahead of me while I finished up a few phone calls, one to the Lodge in Mount Laguna to ask about availability. There were rooms available for now, but that might not be the case by the time I got there. I needed to get moving.
From my previous trip through this section I knew there was a climb ahead of me. Funnily enough, the clouds that had rolled in around lunch providing lovely temps and shade had decided to move on, leaving me exposed to the afternoon sun. I put on Brené Brown’s audiobook of “Braving the Wilderness” and climbed forward, letting her words distract me on my accent.
A few miles later I heard the familiar sound of water.
I looked down and saw Kitchen Creek below me. I walked on to the upper pools and saw Patrick there drying out some gear. It’s quite the steep climb down so I left my bag up top and just brought down my filter and smartwater bottle to top it off.
Last year in the May heat the lower pools had been full of day hikers with the upper pools hosting a few other PCTers. Today Patrick and I had the blue-green water all to ourselves. I dipped my feet in downstream, the first cold soak for them of the trip, and one of my most favorite gifts from the trail. When I don’t get to regularly soak my feet in ice-cold water, my feet swell significantly more, so a treat like this in the desert is something to be treasured.
After topping off my water I said goodbye to Patrick and headed back up the hill to my pack. As I was getting myself situated I saw Patrick’s sleeping bag begin to be blown towards the pools. He was exploring some rock formations in the opposite direction, I yelled down to get his attention. Luckily I’m, if anything, loud. Crisis averted: any thru-hiker knows a wet sleeping bag is a bad bad thing.
That would be the last water for quite a while.
It’s a climb pretty much all the way from Boulder Oaks to Mount Laguna. Some people opt to stay at the Cibbets Flats campground between the two, which has water and toilets, but I wanted to push past, especially since it’s a couple miles off trail. I don’t mind going off trail if it’s necessary, but otherwise I prefer to carry a bit more water or food or whatever is needed and push forward.
There were still no real clouds in the sky but the wind started to pick up. I know I had checked the weather advisory but something inside told me to check the weather from my Garmin. When it reported back it said that “mixed winter conditions” would start at 8 pm. It was already past 5, starting to get dark, and the campsites above 5,000ft were still a few miles out. Plus, what if they were taken by someone else?
I didn’t want to risk it, so I picked the most sheltered site I came to, which just so happened to be the same place I had camped the previous year. It was a good spot, but better for a smaller tent than I have with me, and the ground is kinda slanted. But it was the best option.
Not long after I had started setting up Patrick rolled up. I told him that it might start raining tonight so to prepare for that. We both hoped that wasn’t the case, still no clouds, not even in the distance.
But sure enough, at 2 am I got woken up by the sound of rain.
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