Day 3: Pokes and Scrapes and Stings
Friday, March 23, 2018 7:01 pm
Location: Long Canyon Creek (37.8 miles)

Today was my longest day yet (which, being day three, is not really saying much), progressing 14.8 miles down the trail to Long Canyon Creek. While I was still pretty tired when I got to camp, I was not as exhausted as I had been the last two days.

The wind and rain continued throughout the night, and I woke up several times to my tent’s roof hitting me in the head. One time, the wind was blowing such that I thought that one of my trekking poles (which provide upright support for the tent) was going to tip over, causing the tent to collapse on me. Fortunately, though, that didn’t happen.

I managed to execute my morning routine a little bit faster this morning, despite the fact that my tent was still wet from last night’s rain and a bit unwieldy to stuff back into its sack. The morning start off mostly overcast, with a light drizzle. Eventually, the rain stopped and the sky cleared up enough to reveal a rainbow.


The first stop today was the Boulder Oaks Campground, a nice downhill trek 3 miles from where I started. Although I only intended to get water there, as I was hiking past, someone called me over to a campsite. Upon approaching, I realized it was Megan and Norm.

I first met the two of them hiking towards the southern terminus after being dropped off in Campo, and ran into them again yesterday at the Oak Shores store. Megan, from Australia, is hiking the entire PCT. Her Uncle, Norm, is only hiking a few days with her. Also at the campsite were friends of Norm, Fruitbowl and Sparkle Bunny, who have been trail angels for 18 years.

They offered beer (just because it’s 9 am doesn’t make it too early for beer), snacks, and some fantastic habanero beef jerky marinated in beer. Fruitbowl also said that she would be doing more trail magic at the Cibbets Flat Campground (mile 33) tonight, feeding hikers spaghetti and craft beer.

I would really have liked to have gone to that, but it seemed unlikely I could make the timing work. I need to be at Mount Laguna tomorrow morning to pick up my food shipment, and since the post office is only open from 9 - 11 am tomorrow, it seemed unwise to try and get up early and push nearly ten miles from Cibbets to Mount Laguna with a two hour arrival window.

I set off again shortly before 10, and most of the rest of the day was along the exposed mountainside, giving a series of long panoramic vistas as the trail wound around mountains. The trail jogged east a bit, and I was able to again see some windmills I saw on Wednesday. There was a nice diversity of landscapes, and the trail so far has actually been quite a bit greener than I would have expected.

A Surprisingly Green Trail
A Surprisingly Green Trail

I stopped a couple of times throughout the day when I could find the rare shaded spot. Once, behind a jagged rock outcropping, where it was a bit breezy and cool. (I also managed to jab my leg on a sharp pointy leaf from a plant as I was leaving.) Later, I found a nice shady spot under tree cover at a campsite near a dry stream. Later in the day, with slim pickings and weary feet, I found a somewhat haphazard perch on a rock, shaded by the mountainside behind me.

Pine Valley
Pine ValleyA view of Pine Valley and I-8 from the hills to the north.

As I was climbing the mountain after the road crossing that would have lead to Cibbet Flats, probably at least a mile behind me on the trail, if not further, I saw two people emerge from the “woods” and head towards Cibbet Flats, presumably Megan and Norm. That really is one of the great things about this trail: you can see where you’ve been, and where you’re going, for miles at a time.

Sometime on the climb up that mountain (whatever it’s called; the guide I’m using doesn’t say, probably because the PCT doesn’t actually summit anything), I lost my other pole basket. I had gotten the feeling they felt a bit flimsy when I first put them on, but I didn’t realize I’d have both of them fall off in not even three days. One of the important reasons I like having baskets on my poles is that they make them wider near the end, making the baskets more likely to hit my legs than the sharp metal points at the end of the poles.

One of the few hikers I met on the trail today (going southbound) has one of the most creative trail names I’ve heard: Dock, short for Dictator of Caring and Kindness.

View West.

Shortly after four, I made it to the Long Canyon Creek, and decided to stop there (at a really tiny campsite) for the day. I got water, and then deciding the campsite was perhaps too small, I set out back down the trail a short distance to find the campsite my trail guide referenced. As I suspected when I passed it the first time, one could barely call it a campsite, and I’m really not sure where anyone could put a tent.

As I got back to my campsite, I felt something in my hair, and when I brushed it off, I got stung (or bit?) by a gigantic bee. It left a bit of a welt, but I didn’t see a stinger, so I’ll count myself lucky on that regard. Of course, the big bee had littler bee cousins that were very interested in my tent, and I had to chase them off with bug spray.

The sun dipped behind the next mountain over a little less than an hour before sunset, and it quickly cooled down. As I sit in my tent now, it is pretty chilly, and also pretty humid — perhaps a hundred feet from a creek in early spring was not the best place to camp; everything in my tent is going to be pretty damp in the morning.

But, I’ll have a somewhat relaxed morning, with only 4.6 miles (uphill) to Mount Laguna, After that, we’ll see...