Days 24 – 26: Miles 225.5 – 298.5 (To Be Continued…)

I’ve been watching PCT hikers on YouTube and other social media outlets for years. There seems to be a recurring theme every year and every year is different than the one previous. In 2017… fire closures. In 2023… snow coverage. 2024… rain. Not just rain… a hurricane!

White Water Preserve post Hurricane Hillary.

Rachael Bird and I continue to experience the effects Hurricane Hillary had on the PCT. More specifically… Section “C” of the PCT. Section C of the PCT runs from Highway 10 near Palm Springs to Highway 15 near Cajon Pass. So far, this section has been decimated by Hurricane Hillary.

The trail in Southern California took a massive beating during Hurricane Hillary. There is massive damage at the 234 mile marker where Hurricane floods completely washed away huge chunks of the trail. And for another hundred miles… trail damage in the form of trees, rocks, landslides, etc.

Rock piles completely blocking the trail.

No matter what mile of Sections C you take… you will encounter gigantic oak trees uprooted and bent over the trail, leaving a jungle gym of branches to climb through. Or, you might stumble upon an old avalanche that left behind a pile of rocks that are no safer to traverse than a disheveled pile of porcelain plates.

Tree blowdowns cover sections of the trail.

I’m really proud of my team. The three of us all have similar trail goals in mind. We want to hike a continuous path from Campo, CA to the boarder of Canada. In Idyllwild, we figured out how to maintain our thru-hike while avoiding the sketchy ice shoots. Section C has turned out to be harder than we had hoped… if only the trail and Mother Nature would play nicely.

Despite our best efforts, we are having to skirt around a section of the trail. Between unsafe obstacles and 12 – 18 inches of new snow… we’ve found ourselves spinning our wheels. We need to get some miles in. Our sanity demands it.

Post holing in fresh powder!

The Top Secret Plan

For the sake of saving both time and money… Rachael, Bird, and I had to make some hard decisions. We are getting anxious and want to be back on trail as soon as possible. The mini in-town vacations are great, but it’s not what we came here to do.

With the help of a very special trail angel, we are going to skip past the 73-mile weathered section and return at a later date to complete our continuous path.

Having started in early March, the one thing we have going for us is the abundance of time. By our estimate, we should be hiking into Kennedy Meadows around the end of April. This is very early considering the Sierras will most likely be covered in snow still, thus slowing us to a screeching halt yet again.

From Kennedy Meadows, we plan to rent a van and head south yet again. We will meet up (hopefully) with our favorite trail angel and coordinate vehicle drop offs in an effort to SOBO the 73 miles we missed around Mission Creek and Big Bear. The three of us, and any other hikers who had to do the same as us, will head back to the southern end of Deep Creek and work our way south to the White Water Preserve.

Any hikers wanting to join us in this effort are more than welcome… just get in touch with me.

The Marvelous Melody

Rachael, Bird, and I met an amazing woman while exploring Palm Springs. Melody is an Uber driver who picked us up while we were in Palm Springs. Rachael used her charm to win over Melody in a very short amount of time. Before you knew it, Melody was adding to the conversation as if she had always been the fourth to our trio.

Our Uber Hero!

Melody made such a positive impression with us that we reached out to her the next day when we needed a ride out of town. She immediately answered our call for help and chauffeured us around the San Bernardino valley.

Rachael, Bird, and I relocated from Palm Springs to Redlands so that we would be closer to the highway that leads to Big Bear. Melody not only helped us to get to Redlands but also picked us up on our departure date and drove us all over Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead. We eventually led Melody to our final destination… the Splinter Cabin trail head – the beginning of the Deep Creek section.

Melody wasn’t a trail angel before she met us, but she had been inspired to help more hikers in the future. If you find yourself getting a ride from Melody, please take care of her. She’s earned it!

Breakfast in Big Bear

Stay tuned for more on-trail updates! We’re on the move as we speak.

Cheers, Smiley

One step at a time.

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Comments 7

  • Richard : Apr 2nd

    Dear Smiley, Rachel, and Bird. I am proud of your team. This must have been a difficult decision . Those rockfalls look pretty sketchy and dangerous. I am enjoying your posts.

    • Smiley : Apr 7th

      Thanks Richard. It’s been a challenge. Between the storms and the damage caused by Hurricane Hillary… it’s been tough.

  • Jeffrey Morris : Apr 3rd

    The Rocky mountain range are still Erosion till now. The Rocky mountain debris will be used in the Bering crossway

  • Chris : Apr 4th

    Sounds like a smart plan to jump ahead, and then head on back. No need to take the risk.

    • Smiley : Apr 7th

      Thanks, Chris. We’re trying to be smart about our hike without compromising the intent too much.

  • ELS : Apr 6th

    Wonderful posts! I’m looking forward to following your journey on the PCT from my couch in Houston.

    • Smiley : Apr 7th

      Thanks, ELS. We appreciate your support!


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