PCT Section A: 109 Miles of Ups and, Well, Ups
Hey Everyone! I started the PCT a week early-March 14-with my husband, whom I coerced into joining me for Section A. Section A starts at the Mexico border and ends 109.6 miles later at Warner Springs.
Even though the weather is much cooler than when the herd will be walking through these parts, it’s still hot. A 75 degree day here feels like 95 to me. I don’t know how people do it when it is actually hot.
We didn’t have a hard time with Hauser Canyon. We each brought 4 liters of water, planned to dry camp, and it worked out fine. But just days before us, a woman brought 6 liters, drank it all, panicked, and got hurt on her way out of the canyon. Water or no, the 5 miles to Lake Morena is hard, mostly psychologically. It’s the first climb everyone talks about, and it goes on longer than you think it should.
We lounged around Lake Morena for the afternoon, eating chicken strips and napping on my poncho. Then we climbed up and over some exposed hills and took a break at an underpass covered in graffiti before sleeping at Boulder oaks Campground. We were hot and tired. The trail is unexpectedly hard, in a way. There’s knowing something, and then doing something. But the views are fantastic.
The next fifteen miles to Mt. Laguna are mostly uphill. I feel like this is the real test for hikers, because its what I’ve found the trail to be like most of the time: Up and around, up and around. We switched desert clothes at one point and did impressions of each other. Climbing up to Cibbets flat was demoralizing and harsh. Then we adjusted to the never-ending up, and just accepted it. Plus we really wanted to get to Mt. Laguna for burgers.
In Mt. Laguna we hung out on the porch and talked trail with various people. We did our laundry in a bucket and I took a shower and a bath. We felt great with 40 miles under our belts and celebrated with a Brandon Burger from Pine House Cafe. The chef gets to decide what goes into a Brandon Burger and then you have to eat it. Aaron enjoyed it so much, he finally admitted that he could see the attraction to thru hiking.
The hike on the other side of Mt. Laguna is superb. The hills open up to show that we are 8000 ft up and there is the Anza-Borrego valley floor down there before us. It’s gorgeous. The trail winds along the mountainside with the desert floor ever present on our right. There is no shade. We get water from horse tanks and meet crazy runners training for extreme races. We sleep at a well before heading down to Scissors Crossing, where I had to end my hike last year. The trail is long and hot, but we make it, and celebrate by enjoying the surprise water cache.
On the other side of scissors, the desert looks different. There are strange cacti everywhere. It’s otherworldly. Now it’s time for 20 miles of up and through the San Felipe Hills. It’s very windy and the trail is high and exposed. We have lovely campsites, but the second night in the hills is so windy that our tent almost flies away with us in it. So we break it down and sleep on the ground That is the first night I’ve ever cowboy camped!
We make it out of those crazy windy hills to find large expansive meadows covered in little purple flowers. The trail leads us past a rock that looks like an eagle, and a tree with a sign that says, “Bee Tree”. Then we are at our car and on our way back to Julian, where I will resupply and then Aaron will drop me off a day later to do the rest of the trail by myself.
You can read a more detailed, daily journal at Mountains for Breakfast.
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