Date: May 2, 2017
Miles: 16.7 miles, from Fred Canyon to Water facet junction
Health: Legs are starting to feel it, but nothing too bad. I hope the flu stays away, I'm still feeling like I'm low on energy.
The alarm woke me up at 4am but I was a bit foggy and it took me a good half an hour to get up. It was dark outside and no one else was up yet. I taped my legs, packed my things, filtered some water and headed out while everyone else was still sleeping.
The air was cold by the creek but by the time I had gotten a little higher in elevation, the air turned hot again. The earth was still warm from the previous day.
I ate few pop tarts, a snickers bar, and washed my teeth while hiking towards Mount Laguna.
The views and the climb from the creek were beautiful. I had to constantly stop to marvel the beauty of the desert.
The sun came up pretty quick but the trail rolls on the western side of the ridge line so it stays in the shadow of the mountain the whole morning. When the sun is this hot, you try to stay in the shade as much as possible, even in the early morning.
Few miles in I happened upon an older couple, Marge and Jim, and spend the rest of the morning leapfrogging each other. As we approached Mount Laguna, the scenery changed and got more foresty with big pine trees and pine needles everywhere.
No sight of Blü or Neal on the trail again. They must have hiked long in to the night again and made it too far for me to catch them before the town.
Mount Laguna is a small town almost right on the trail. While the official PCT goes around the town, you can also walk from the trail, through the town, and join back on the PCT. For me it's all about the continuous footpath from Mexico to Canada, not about hiking every mile of the PCT, so I hiked through the town.
The actual town of Mount Laguna consists of just few storefronts along a small road. There's restaurant, gear store, grocery store (prices are high), and visitor center. The town is conveniently build so, that you can walk through them in that order and then head back on the PCT.
As I got to the restaurant, there were all the familiar faces. Blü and Neal were heading to shade to enjoy the long siesta. We swapped trail stories from the night before, and then I joined Justine, Alex, and others from our bubble inside for a breakfast.
After we had our bellies full, and everyone had used the toilet facilities, we headed to the gear store. Now, be warned, this is a great place to lose half of your budget.
They give weary hikers pack shakedowns, and for many this is a great opportunity to lose a lot of unnecessary pack weight. They also have a very good selection of ultralight gear inside. So if you need to update, replace, or add gear to your setup, they most likely have it. And the prices are set accordingly.
But for many hikers, the lure of a lighter pack, after 43 miles in the desert, can be too tempting. Just don't spend your entire budget here.
I had been having some trouble with the thickness of my Darn Tough socks and the swelling of my feet. This caused my toes to press together, and also pressed the sides of my feet against the side of the shoes. So I needed new socks, and Neal had recommended me the Injinji toe socks and I bought them.
After a long while of drooling over all the UL gear packed into this small store, we headed to the grocery store for resupply. The hardest part so far for me has been knowing what to buy as most of the brands seen here in stores are unknown to me.
I managed to gather enough food to last me to Julian on mile 77.
We had decided to leave late in the night and siesta all day to beat the hottest part of the day. We set up shop on the porch of the visitor center and waited for the sun to drop. As we had gotten to the town so early, this turned out to be the mother of all siestas, a good 7 hours.
We had a 6.1 mile hike to the next water source, the Water faucet junction at mile 41.5. It was again easy to hike in the cool evening air. The trail dipped through pine forests, and then opened up to gorgeous views of the desert.
Once at the junction, I joined others and setup my tent while Blü and Neal again pushed further. They had a shorter morning so they wanted to still get some mileage in before it got completely dark.
Tomorrow is going to be an interesting day as we're approaching a 20 mile waterless section that doesn't have any shade. Our only option seems to be to night hike it, but we either have to make a very short day tomorrow and night hike it the day after, or do a very long day tomorrow. That would mean doing the 10 miles to the last water source in the morning and then doing a 20 mile night hike after that in the evening – making it a 30 mile day.
But that decision can wait until tomorrow.
We had a nice, tight tent circle right at the junction. We talked about astro photography with Justine and Pin, traded more trail stories, and then headed to bed. The best part of the day is when you get to crawl in to your sleeping bag.