The PCT Flow

Day 10

I ate a bar to hasten getting on trail. Karin & I took a quick detour to Eagle Rock, then walked past cows and countryside that reminded me of Montana. We reached the Warner Springs Community Center and met trail angel “Off Trail”. He gave us a ride to the post office where our resupply boxes were waiting. Mine had four days of yummy food plus my tiny Swiss army knife and microspikes (neither of which I could carry on the plane).

I scavenged a couple items from the hiker box and got two bars from a section hiker who offered his leftover food. Debbie appeared and the three of us soaked our feet in hot, soapy bucket water. Then we washed our dirtier underwear and socks in the water, laying the items on the hot pavement to dry. Soon, Karin and I got antsy and returned to the trail.

After meadows, desert, and rock-hopping a couple streams, we ran into an elderly man from Yorkshire and a lady with three dogs. He told us about a book on veganism which he’d recently published. Then we began an uphill climb. Karin walked by a small rattlesnake, but it caught my eye. The two of us watched it slither away. In a shady spot by a creek, we ate a late lunch and got water. We debated staying…

Pause and Martina showed up; then our tramily. Parker & Serendipity told us about their stay at the Mountain Valley Retreat. We erected dwellings and made space for a thru-hiker with a bad heel blister. All of us ate dinner. James arrived and shared his new trail name “Apples” before continuing on to look for a tent spot.

Day 11

When I got up pre-sunrise, Karin was long gone. The rest of us were out of camp ~7:15 am. We rock-hopped across Agua Caliente Creek a handful of times; well Parker waded through. Then we hiked upward for miles. After five miles, Serendipity and I took a break to dry out ground clothes and gather water from a flowing stream located 1/4 mile downhill. I discovered a handsome black lizard with blue & green flecked scales.

The next water source was Mike’s Place. The trail angel was not in residence, but Martina, Serendipity, and I took advantage of the shade his veranda offered and ate a late lunch. Then we filled water at one of several tanks Mike keeps filled along the driveway.

Our climbing was not yet done. The trail peaked around 5,500 feet, the desert shrubs mixed with a scattering of pine trees. At the base of the descent Serendipity & I came upon our intended campsite; Karin was there and had saved spots. While I was eating my tomato lentil quinoa, Parker arrived in good spirits. Debbie stayed at Mike’s due to continuing bad blisters. It was our longest day yet: 16.8 miles.

Day 12

I woke early after a restless night’s sleep, ate cold-soaked strawberry & almond oatmeal, and got on trail. The day warmed quicker than the preceding one. I caught up to Karin & Pause filtering water at a small, clear stream. With nine dry miles ahead, I got two liters. The stream was shortly before the Tule Spring turn-off and saved us a detour downhill.

For the first time on trail I started a music playlist, inspired by Emmylou, which was stuck in my head. The hills were filled with purple flowers intertwined with cacti. I stopped to take lots of pictures. Without realizing it I reached the bottom of Nance Canyon; the descent out was easier than anticipated. After a dry wash where I passed hikers taking a break, I was joined by Crumbs. We chatted for awhile, then Serendipity caught up and joined the conversation. Soon we reached a water tank maintained by the amazing trail angel Mary! There were also two picnic tables, a shade awning, and a lending library.

A big group of us ate lunch. Afterwards, I noticed a headache that was steadily getting worse so I took ibuprofen and rested. When I set out to cover the last 3.5 miles, I was still nauseous and struggling to keep my spirits up. I got service for the first time since camp and stopped on a shady hill to text. Then I ate some Bolt energy chews with yerba mate caffeine. It worked! The nausea began to dissipate… such a relief. I walked into camp feeling perky.

Our site was a large, very flat, grass covered spot. Karin and I decided to cowboy camp. Using a neat Sky Guide app, we learned a couple new constellations. The Lyrid meteor show was near its peak and over the course of the night I saw six shooting stars.

Day 13

A quick three miles and brief road walk brought us to the Paradise Valley Cafe as it opened. I had a gigantic spinach & feta omelette, hash browns, and cantaloupe. Then we went across the street to get hitches. A gal from San Diego gave Martina, myself, and two others a ride to Idyllwild. After perusing the gear shop and gathering intel on snow conditions, I met the others at a coffee shop.

It turned out that Coachella was in full swing so most lodging was booked. Parker turned up a cabin that slept six and we found a couple stray hikers to join us. It was 0.9 miles from downtown, but what’s a little walking to a PCT thru-hiker! I took my first shower in two weeks and it felt amazing. Then we did laundry and soon I had clean clothes as well.

There was a lot of texting and conversing about what to do next. Go through the San Jacinto mountains? Head up north and flip to go southbound? Martina looked at rental car, Uber and shuttle options. I walked downtown with Karin to get food for dinner. At the house, we put together a tasty salad. I had an orange as an appetizer. Yay for fresh food!

Day 14

Karin and I got up early, arriving at Amelia’s Donuts at 7 am. I’d been before and wanted first dibs on the GF options. I got two cake donuts, one topped with cream cheese and one with maple frosting. They were tender, still warm, flavorful… delicious!

I wasn’t mentally ready to take a zero day so soon into the trail, but once again I went with the flow and enjoyed myself. Physically I felt ready to hike, though the rest did help a couple hot spots on my feet toughen up. After many changes of plan, we came up with one that worked for all of us… read my next update to learn where we went!

In the meantime I made use of one of my luxury items, a cloth grocery bag sewn by my mom, to do my resupply shopping. Trying to limit my plastic waste on trail.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?