We woke up at 5 AM today, made coffee, had a light breakfast and we were out the door by 6 AM. That was to be our routine for the rest of the hike. Today’s leg is from Lake Morena to Desert View (Mount Laguna), about 22 miles. We set out for Mount Laguna in both cars; parking one vehicle at Desert View picnic area and then driving back to the PCT trailhead near Lake Morena State Park. We start out briskly, savoring the cool temperatures.
We are hiking through a relatively flat section that’s next to private land. The next few miles we are going over a small hill. Later in the day, we’ll be gaining some more serious elevation. On the other hand, none of the PCT is very steep – it’s designed for horses and humans. Another thing that strikes me is how green the hills are along the trail.
We hit Boulder Oaks campground after about six miles; a nice place for a snack and there’s water available. We talk to some fellow hikers: a wife and husband originally from Bellingham, Washington. They have decided to thru-hike the trail and then they will see where life leads them. I hope to see them in the North Cascades this fall.
We cross under Interstate 8 – the main highway into San Diego from the east. After that, we start a gentle climb upwards. The next 16 miles were to be in wilderness, much nicer hiking. We take a few breaks in the shade, there’s some large manzanita along the trail.
We head upward and cross a minor road. On the side, I saw my first and only rattlesnake of the trip. It was a flattened juvenile.
Onward and upward we go. We are in a different terrain and I spot some flowers that are a favorite of mine. They are a species of paintbrush (genus Castilleja). As many of my hiking friend know, I stop early and often for nature photos. I will have a separate post on my natural observations along this Section of the trail.
We see some hikers below us; they are swimming in Kitchen Creek. Seems like a nice idea but it would involve a hike down and a climb up again. We decide that we’ll leave that creek to the youngsters down below. Onward and upward. We reach the Fred Canyon trailhead, which is the turnoff to the Cibbets Flat campground. We had contemplated this as a lunch spot. Lo and behold, there’s some trail magic here! A couple of families set up here with a nice sunshade. They gave us lunch and cold drinks. It was mighty nice. We talked with them and some of the other hikers. We had some wind, at one point the sunshade almost went airborne.
Well, off we go towards Mount Laguna. We have some fine walking, it was mainly a gentle upward grade. Eventually, we were in a pine forest. They looked like Ponderosa Pines to me but later Mike figured out they were Jeffery Pines. These trees provided some nice shade. The last few miles were through the forest and we came out at the car.
I was a hungry hiker! We visited the Mount Laguna store where I bought a few snacks. The prices were fairly steep here so I just bought a snack. Next, we drove over to the Pine House Café. The people running it were French – food was delicious. I also had room for a substantial slab of apple pie. After that, back to get the second car and over to the hotel.
For the day, we had hiked more than 22 miles with roughly 4000 feet of elevation gain. A pretty good day of hiking with more to come. Tomorrow would be a little easier day: about 17 miles from Desert View (Mount Laguna) to Sunrise Trailhead.