Mile 256.1 Arrastre Trail Camp
The night was chilly as I was camped at 6000 feet. Around 530 I hear E-train rummaging around and breaking camp. I decide to get up and get moving as well. I make breakfast and tear down my tent.
As we are breaking camp we are chatting. Turns out we are both from San Diego. His kids are grown and only one left at home still in college. This is his first thru hike attempt.
He asks where I live in San Diego and I tell him near Cowles mountain. He says, “No shit? I live at golf crest and Jackson.”
Turns out he lives less than a mile from me. Small world.
After breaking camp and hitting the trail the sun is up. I hope the temps are cooler today, I suspect they will be as we are at elevation.
Over the next several miles the trail ascends rather gradually which makes for nice hiking. At this point I’ve gotten acclimated to being at elevation so the hiking comes easy. Here are a few stretches in which I’m breathing hard but it much more relaxed than the hiking in San Jacinto.
At the last water available for 16 miles I see a hiker camped. He doesn’t appear to be in the area. The directions to the water source are as following. “Go 60 yards to the end of the closed road, make a left. Walk 110 yards just past the horse corrals and make a right. Walk 100 yards and you will be at the water source. Water dripping from roots into a blue barrel”.
Sure enough there is a small cave if you will that has been eroded from years of snow melt dripping from the roots of the tree above.
Here I find he hiker whom wasn’t at his camp. His name is haiku. He hiked the AT in 2013. We chatted for a bit as he finished filling his water bottles.
He went back to camp and I filled mine. The water was a brisk 33 degrees as it was snow melt. But once filter was some of the best tasting water I’ve had on trail. The marketing slogan would never work tho, “fresh tasting water bottle at the source from a mountain seep.” Just doesn’t work.
I load up with 5 liters as its 16 miles to the next water and I don’t think I’ll make the mileage to get to the next source. So I needed enough water to dry camp.
I walk back to where haiku is camping and we chat for about 20 minutes. He laments how different the pct is from the AT. He’s having difficulty with the constant temperature fluctuations and the lack of shade on the trail. He’s having trouble making his mileage per day goals because of the altitude. We say our goodbyes and I’m back on trail.
Over the next several hours the trail meanders from 7500 to 8300 and back down. All in a gradual fashion so the miles aren’t difficult. Around 1230 I end up on the south facing slopes of the San Bernadino mountains which face the San Jacinto Mountains just across the desert.
I think to myself, “oh I will have cell signal!”
The last two days I have been out of range. Really back country.
I call home and catch up with Brian and Austin. It was good to get connected to the world. While on the phone both E train and Haiku pass me. After chatting for 30 minutes or so and I hit the trail.
I catch up to e-train who is enjoying a break. About 2 miles from where I intended to camp I run into haiku. I stop and take a break. We chat some more and he tells me he plans to hike to at least the next water source, 6 more miles.
I’m not sure that’s in the cards for me so I say, well I will hike with you until I decide to camp.
Over the next hour or so we chat pretty much non stop. He had started a company and spent 8 years doing nothing but eat sleep and work and got burnt out.
He took a leave of absence in 2013 to hike the AT. After the AT he still wasn’t ready to go back so he planned the PCT. If he finishes the PCT, he plans to do the CDT (the continental divide trail) next year to complete the triple crown.
After all that is said and done he wants to go back to school to become a therapist. He wants to use the back country to help people work through their issues.
We also talked about Burning Man. He’s excited to go and I’m sure he was sick of hearing about it from me after the first hour! What can I say? I love the burning man experience.
We were so engrossed in conversation we completely missed where I had planned to camp that night. And as it turned out were only two miles from the next water source, so we continued on.
We arrived in camp shortly before 7 and just before sunset. I quickly made camp and began cooking dinner. The temperature was dropping quickly as the sun went down. The camp is at 7100 feet.
We both are dinner and he packed up with the plan of hiking another couple miles. He said he felt like he found his hiking gear today. I told him he had simply acclimated to the altitude and should have an easier time from here on out.
We said our goodbyes and he was off. Being a trail camp there were a few picnic tables and fire pits. I decided I would stay up a little later than usual and build a fire in one of the fire pits. It was my first fire on the PCT.
After an hour I got sleepy. A 21 mile day.