PCT SECTION C
I-10 to I-15 CAJON PASS
MILE 209.5- 341.9
Day 17 (continued) – 1.7 miles
It’s windy tonight, but we found a nice little flat patch far enough from the I-10 for a bit of peace. We really upped our mileage today and we’re still feeling great! I had a great day, the trail truly does provide.
Day 18 – 17 miles
18 miles total today counting an awesome side trip to White Water Preserve. Speaking of which, that place was such an oasis! Wow! Just incredible!
We started the day at our I-10 camp, we could hear the cars all night but we slept mostly ok. It was a trip to wake up and see all the lights below, everyone is driving all the time, makes me wonder what’s everyone is doing on the I-10 at 3am. However, seeing San Jacinto bathed in morning light more than made up for the obnoxiousness of the I-10.
It was a short climb to White Water Preserve, where we took a mid-day break. We ate some lunch, did some sink laundry, and hung out in the wading pools. We made our way to the White Water River where we filled up for the 8 mile climb to the next water.
To our upmost surprise, a man walked over to us and Angler immediately recognized the man as Graham, who we met on the first day during the shuttle. He had previously made it to Mount Laguna but got off trail for family stuff, the shuttle was talking him to Mount Laguna on the same trip as it was taking us to the Southern Terminus. It was so cool to see him again!!
After that, we knew it would be a hot climb up to Mission Creek, we started the climb and I immediately began having a panic attack. I was essentially convincing myself that I had every sign of heat stroke even though I was totally fine.
I had a realization today. I think I found my “why”. I’m hiking the trail to overcome my anxiety, I definitely have anxiety issues and I can’t hide it. I mean, maybe I won’t even overcome it, but at least I’m facing it! Most the time in public when it happens I run away and keep it a secret, I guess I’m ashamed of it. But today I didn’t care. I told everyone about it, and I wasn’t sorry, I’m just a person, I’m not perfect and neither is everyone else.
We finally made it to Mission Creek, a welcome sight for our weary bodies. We immediately sat down and started making dinner, we were starving! We were shortly followed by Grahm and some of his friends. We met Hawkeye who really told it like it was, and we all had a good vent about all the people who seem to think that the PCT is a race. Seriously, there is a lot of little competitions out here and Angler and I are thankful to not be a part of it (and also thankful to meet others who are just hiking for the experience and not for the bragging rights).
We’re camped near Mission Creek tonight and I think I’ll sleep good. I’m sure tired enough.
Day 19 – 14.5 miles
Today was hard! Definitely felt like the most elevation that we’ve gained in a day. The day started at Mission Creek, we had rolled in kinda late the night prior and I didn’t have a lot of time to unwind so I didn’t sleep the best. We’re gonna work on that.
Most of the day was a climb, the trail through Mission Creek was honestly quite a mess, I thought it was really fun and different though! But pretty slow going through the creek bed for the first half of the morning.
After we exited the creek bed, we began the hot part of the climb…. And boy! Was it hot! Not as hot as yesterday but still pretty uncomfortable. We got to our second water source of the day and had a late lunch/early dinner since we knew we had an 18 mile water carry that we would be dry camping part way though.
The remaining climb with all that water was absolutely demoralizing. Our legs were feelin the climb from earlier in the day already. We decided that we’d like to take a zero in Big Bear Lake, not because we’re wrecked or anything, but mostly because we need to mail some food ahead to Wrightwood…. And after the crazy water carries and elevation changes on this stretch, I think we deserve a break.
We’re camped on a saddle tonight, and I don’t feel bad about calling camp early, it’s really nice to have the extra time to unwind. Angler and I were talking about how hard this has been, but we haven’t once wanted to quit yet and that makes me happy. Honestly, the water carries are my least favorite part, but the good news is I know that they will end, and I’ll be stronger for the ones in the future.
Feeling good about my place here today.
Day 20 – 20.2 miles
20 miles…. A number that I haven’t seen in a backpacking trip since I blew my knees out on the Tahoe Rim Trail. I’ve learned a lot since then, and taking it easy and letting the miles come naturally is one of those things. I’m thankful that Angler and I were patient with our bodies and didn’t overdo it in the first few days.
Today actually started off kinda meh. We were both pretty tired from a pretty poor night’s sleep and also from the absolutely demoralizing climb to and out of Mission Creek. We also had 14.5 more miles to carry water until the next source. I was hungry, like I could eat my entire food bag kinda hunger.
The day went quickly though, the forest around Big Bear Lake was gorgeous and I loved being back in the trees. We were just discussing how excited we were for late lunch when I saw the sign “Trail Magic!”…. It couldn’t be. We hadn’t gotten any trail magic on trail yet, everyone else we knew had but we were still holding on to hope.
As we approached, a women said “Hey! Want some trail magic! We have hot dogs!” …..hot dogs! I fucking love hot dogs! Of course!!! She introduced herself as Melissa, and then introduced us to Mark. This was their first time doing trail magic.
It was perfect, literally everything I needed they had. Hot dogs, wine, chips and salsa, Gatorade, chairs! It was amazing. We sat and chatted with them and a few other hikers – one of which was Bandit who was rockin a vintage external frame backpack, it was his dad’s.
We were sad to leave but we had a few more miles to make before calling it for the night. Big Bear Lake is tomorrow and we’re taking a zero! After the past few days I think we could use a good rest.
Today ended up actually being one of my proudest days out here. I had a good attitude even when I was tired, and I saw progress. I know this isn’t a race and it’s not about the miles, but hitting 20 today without injuring myself was really a big milestone and showed me not just my progression as a backpacker, but also as a person. I’m learning to be kind and patient with myself, I think it might really pay off.
Day 21 – 3.7 miles
Big Bear Lake day! We had an easy few miles into town, with some really interesting new plant life to look at. We got into Big Bear Lake after catching a ride with Big Rig Jon and had an excellent breakfast at the Teddy Bear Restaurant. We spent the rest of the day doing laundry and beginning to figure out next resupply out, we have to mail ahead to Wrightwood because of their lack of feasible food options for me.
Being dairy free and gluten free and resupplying on trail is proving to be actually very difficult, I think I would have preferred to send mostly boxes if I were to do this again, but I’m managing!
We decided to take a zero here to rest up after the last section, we’re still feeling mostly good, just kinda worn out (probably from averaging 3-4 hours of sleep a night, still working on figuring that out).
We’re staying at the Big Bear Inn, which from the outside looks honestly kind skeezy but the staff here is so accommodating and nice, and the rooms are actually super upgraded and comfortable (and cheap, did I mention that??) 10/10 satisfied so far.
Day 22 – 0 miles
Had a good zero day today. We went to Café Crêpe for breakfast where they had gluten free crepes! Which were perfect, I got the Honey Bear and it didn’t disappoint, and the coffee was so good I thought creamer might ruin it.
I was feeling more caffeinated and alive, so we started getting down to chores. I booked a room in Wrightwood, figured out the logistics of our resupply there and got ahold of a bus schedule. We were off! We had been pleasantly surprised by the shuttle and bus situation in San Diego, so we sorta expected the same…. Except it was nothing like that. The schedule didn’t match what the buses were actually doing, and we ended up trying to get on the wrong bus. Finally we figured it out and got on the right bus, and some other hikers were just as confused as us, so the company of other lost people was comforting at least.
We got lunch at Maggios. Angler got a pizza, and I got the best salad of the trail. After stuffing our faces, we got to the chores. We had to do a 10 day resupply for this next stretch, and also for Wrightwood to Acton. I was feeling discouraged as we went to Dollar Tree and Angler could do half of his resupply…. I got epsom salt at least, and taco seasoning. Off the Vons, my luck at Vons was slightly better but still discouraging. I was really wishing we had just sent all our boxes, but ya can’t change the past!
Finally after visiting Slater Bros, we got everything we needed. Except the fucking bus. We again went to the wrong stop, and then when told where the actual stop was, upon arriving, it didn’t seem like a stop at all! Luckily some Trail Angels picked us up in their van, the back was converted to a bed, so we laid in bed on the drive back to the hotel. They were really eccentric people and so kind, Bill told us some funny poop jokes. Who doesn’t love a good poop joke?
After getting everything assembled, we mailed our resupply to Wrightwood and then mailed my nephew his late birthday present that we got for him while in town. I also mailed home some stickers I got at White Water Preserve, they’re definitely going on my camper van when we get home!
After chores, we met up with GPS, Scratch, Cool Rocks, Onward, Trooper, Emily (who we really wanna call the Terrier Carrier), and to our surprise everyone from the bus stop earlier! We went to the local Brewery and caught up, it was so nice to see everyone again!
We head back out tomorrow…. After getting breakfast of course. We got talked into an 8am breakfast at Grizzly Manor and I can’t say that I’m upset about it.
Day 23 – 15.5 miles
So today was actually 18 miles with the side trail we took to get back to the PCT – Cougar Crest.
Today was easy! The terrain was so flat and mild, what a nice change of pace. We got a late start today, everyone wanted to meet up at Grizzly Manor to have breakfast at 8, no regrets. We got a ride back to the trailhead with Bill, who is a trail angel with a van, he was definitely a character but he got us where we needed to go.
We got to the trailhead around 10am, late start for sure, but we were dead set on making it to Holcomb Creek. We hauled ass, around 6pm we made it to the creek, I had dinner while Angler took a few casts, no luck. That’s ok though because tomorrow is Deep Creek, the first official fishing opportunity with confirmed fish.
We carried on to our camp for the evening. I was so tired that by the time we set up camp and got all our nightly chores done, I passed out and had the best night of sleep on trail yet. It was a good day.
Day 24 – 18 miles
I awoke feeling like an actual human being! Thank goodness! We had to get a move on because today was the day that Angler has been waiting for for 300 miles now – Deep Creek, his first on trail fishing opportunity.
We crushed the first 5 miles before 8am, and arrived at the Deep Creek Bridge. We were happy to see that Scratch was there! So unexpected and awesome. We also found Hawkeye and Ketchup and a new hiker we hadn’t met yet named Kim. They had camped there the night prior, and I understood why. It was a gorgeous spot.
Angler started fishing, and catching, while I had a cup of much anticipated coffee.
We hit mile 300 today, almost double the mileage of the only other “long” trail we’ve done – we both joked about how we felt better after this 300 miles than we did after only 30 miles on the Tahoe Rim Trail. It’s all thanks to us learning our lesson of easing into things, it really does make it better.
We hung out for a little over and hour and a half, time to move on to the next spot. 3 miles later we found ourselves at another section of Deep Creek, where Angler caught even more fish. I was glad we caught some, it’s not always a guarantee and I’d be sad if he didn’t catch any after carrying his two Tenkara rods all this way.
We were now on to the Hot Springs, which with the rising temperature sounded just terrible to me. And it was terrible. When we got there, it was full of nudists…. I don’t want to sound prude, but I just don’t want a bunch of dicks in my face when I’m trying to filter water and relax. So we refilled our waters and just moved along silently, eyes glued to the ground to not be mistaken for staring.
As we approached the Rainbow Bridge, we decided to take one last fishing detour, where Angler caught even more. Unfortunately on the climb out though I hyperextended my knee a bit and it’s still kinda sore. I started to get worried that I’ve seriously hurt myself, but then Angler reminded me that it’ll be ok and we always work it out. He’s right, I’m thankful to be here with him.
We were torn whether to continue to the last on trail crossing or to stop just short, until I found an interesting spur trail that appeared to go down to the river – Hesperia Falls spur trail. Angler and I are no stranger to rivers and frequent our West Branch Feather River at home, so I knew if we found a path down, there was no question that we could find a spot to pitch the tent.
And thankfully we did. Angler caught even more fish, and we enjoyed our well deserved dinner (not fish, we made rice burritos). I even took a swim with all my clothes on to do some hiker laundry.
It was a good day, but a long day. Tomorrow we wanna take it a little slower. We really hauled ass today because I wanted to make sure he had time to fish and to make the miles we need to arrive in Wrightwood on Saturday. We definitely gave ourself a challenge by trying to get from Big Bear to Wrightwood in 5 1/2 days, but I have faith that we can pull it off.
Looking forward to a zero there, the last until Tehachapi probably.
Day 25 – 21.1 miles
Furthest day yet!
I slept great, again. But unfortunately upon walking around a bit around camp, I realized my knee was definitely a bit tweaked. I put the knee brace on and decided that today we’d take things a bit slower, although I knew it still was going to be at least an 18 mile day to avoid camping at the Silverwood Lake State Park campground. Campgrounds aren’t really our thing.
The main goal of the day was to make it to Silverwood Lake, where a nice beach and picnic area was advertised. At the first water source of the day, we ran into Luke Warm again, we’d been leap frogging with her for a while.
At the water, she told us she’s been having calf pain – I sympathized because I’m having knee pain, and Angler was just having a tired day from going so hard on fishing yesterday.
We all slogged on, eventually losing Luke Warm but then getting passed by her while taking a break. It was really hot today, and the landscape was honestly pretty boring. I don’t like the populated areas that the trail goes through, but it’s part of the experience.
Finally we reached the road for Silverwood Lake, there was trash littered everywhere. We reached the lake, and found Luke Warm in an inviting shady beach spot, but soon realized it was infested with ants and there was also trash everywhere on not only the beach, but also in the water. Silverwood Lake is disgusting, I didn’t even want to take my shoes off for fear of stepping on broken glass or a needle, I was not feeling this spot so we moved along to the picnic area, we didn’t see Luke Warm again after making the turnoff.
We spent about two hours there, enjoying the picnic tables and water spigot. We made dinner and just relaxed a bit, we had a few more miles to cover before we were out of the state park (and camping restricted area).
As it neared 5:30pm, we made the final push to camp, we found one almost immediately after the restrictions ended, but we’re actually feeling really good after the long break and decided to keep going.
We wound up doing 21.1 miles and I’m still feeling good! I’m proud of us for pushing on, the food options at Cajon Pass was definitely a motivating factor, we’ll be there tomorrow and we are so excited. My knee feels pretty good also, and I’m glad I didn’t let myself get in my own head today.
Day 26 – 9.6 miles (to be continued in section D blog)
Today was the day – Cajon Pass! The home of the legendary Mickie D’s… except I had Subway on the mind!
The day started in our windy ridge littered with Truly cans, this was obviously the spot to get white girl wasted. The view of Silverwood Lake and the perpendicular ridge was amazing, the fog was rolling through the mountain thick and I had never seen anything like that.
We raced to Cajon Pass, and went right past the McDonalds, I wanted two Subway salads and nothing was gonna stop me. The Subway and adjoined Shell was very hiker friendly, they let us have water, sit inside for a long while and use their bathrooms. The salad was the best Subway salad I’ve ever had. Angler bought some beers for the road. With that, we finished section C!
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