Our third day on the PCT. Today is going to be an easy 17 miles. We have the morning rituals figured out; we’re up at Mount Laguna recreation area. Today, we will cross into Anza-Borrego Desert State Park; a natural area that I’ve wanted to explore for years.
You might be curious why Mike’s often in the lead. The answer is pretty simple; I take a lot of nature photos, So, it’s a lot easier for me to get some images and catch up rather than slow both of us down. Plus, Mike sets a good pace; we average about a 2.5 mile per hour (4 km per hour) pace. Not too bad for a couple of senior citizens – we are both young at heart. We are up high, about 5700 feet (1740 m.), walking through a low oak forest.
After a couple of miles, we break into open terrain and pass the PCT 50 mile mark. We are walking on some gentle ridges, very pleasant terrain. I feel like I could walk all day – in fact, I did walk all day.
We walked up to the Pioneer Mail Picnic site (mile 53) and then proceeded on a closed section of the old Sunset highway and then back onto trail. There were some elaborate memorials up here. The views down to the desert floor several thousand feet below us are stunning. We were passing through here around noon, we tended to eat and hike rather than tale long breaks.
We hiked on north along the edge of a ridge, it was some great walking. The geology was also interesting. In the area of the memorial (see photos above) the rock looked metamorphic, perhaps schist? (PS – stop now if you don’t give a schist…) A bit further north we were walking through weathered granitic rock. Gosh, wish I knew a bit more geology. So much science, so little time. I did find a nice website about the flora of the PCT in this area: The Flora of the PCT A7 Pioneer Mail Picnic Area to Sunrise parking area My next endeavor once I finish writng about the hiking is to record my observations on iNaturalist. After that, I hope to write up what I saw each day in some detail – stand by for more….
As we made our way north, we entered Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. I would describe the terrain we hiked through as chaparral rather than desert. You can get a look at this via my rather poor attempt at a selfie. Another comment, I am well protected from the sun. I tried out a Black Diamond Sun Hoodie on this trip, it seemed to live up to its advertised UPF 50 protection. I’m of Irish ancestry I can (and have) got sunburn in the shade. I have SPF50 sunscreen along with SPF 30 lip balm and my trusty RayBan shades. I also wear OR sun gloves. All this worked well for me during the six days of hiking.
After a few more miles of fairly flat tramping, we made it to the car we left at Sunrise Trailhead. We backtracked to Mount Laguna to get the other car and then headed over some twisty roads to the town of Julian, which was our new base for the next 3 days of adventure. We stayed a few miles out of town at the Apple Tree Inn. The room was quite nice. A great feature to me was proximity to good food, here’s a review of Wynola Pizza that I wrote:
“For 3 days, I was hiking the PCT 8 to 10 hours a day and got to my hotel hungry. I’d stroll over to Wynola Pizza and eat an entire vegan pizza every evening. It was delicious. Usually had a slice of apple pie as well. Great service and there was live music one night. Highly recommended.”
Mike also enjoyed this place but not quite as much as I did. I think it might be an engineering trait; once you find optimal food then there’s no need to change! After eating, we headed into Julian for a quick resupply. It’s a good hiker town, the staff at the store were very nice and the prices were reasonable. We also did a quick recon of Scissors Crossing, which was our starting point for tomorrow, Day 4 of Section A