Date: Tuesday, 25 April 2017
Start: On trail west of Campo, 2384 ft
Finish: Lake Morena Campground, 3038 ft
Daily Miles: 15.4 on PCT, 2.0 other
Total PCT Miles: 20.0
Weather: Cool, breezy and overcast in the morning, and warmer with sunny periods in the afternoon.
Accommodation: Tent in Lake Morena Campground
Dinner: Bacon double cheeseburger with fries, choc mint thickshake
Aches: Tired all over
Highlight: The very quiet first couple of hours hiking along the undulating and winding trail
Lowlight: Being told on arrival at the Campground that I had to self-register at the road entrance booth which was half a mile away from where I was told to camp at the end of a tiring day.
Pictures: Click here
I had a restless night on my new air mattress, and woke several times to hear it raining lightly on the tent. I’m sure I will sleep better as I get used to the new arrangements.
I got up at 6am and shortly after the two guys I met yesterday passed my camp. They must have had trouble sleeping as well. From memory, they weren’t using tents, so maybe they got wet.
It still looked like it might rain, and my tent was wet, so I decided to pack up and get a few miles in before stopping to have breakfast. I was on the trail by 7am and really enjoyed the first couple of hours of easy trail with views back to “The Wall”, wildflowers, birds and a couple of rabbits. Of course my body was relatively fresh and I didn’t expect it to last. Towards the end of this section, I was caught by some fast-moving hikers who had started at the wall that morning. I expected this to happen and was determined to walk an easy and careful pace as my body adapted.
After eating my muesli by the trail I continued on feeling more tired in the legs and shoulders and considered having more breaks. The trail had climbed quite high now and there were vistas of orange rocky mountains in most directions with an occasional greenish ranch in the valleys. I had a second break two hours later where the trail met an unpaved road and the trail ahead could be seen zig-zagging up the shoulder of Morena Butte across a steep valley.
It was getting warmer and my legs and feet (new boots…..but exactly the same size and model as my last pair) did not enjoy the reasonably steep and technical descent to Hauser Creek, nor the very long climb up the other side. I was going slow, but caught a couple of the guys who had passed me earlier. One admitted regretting the rush of adrenalin he had starting the day at the wall.
The last few hours were tough, and I was glad I had scheduled a relatively short, 15 mile, day. But I plodded slowly on, knowing that these early days were bound to be tough. Around 2pm, I reached the village of Lake Morena, which has definitely seen better days, and its vast, exposed and mostly empty campground, which had also seen better days. There was an area set aside of PCT hikers, but I had to register at a booth half a mile away, which didn’t augur well for their TripAdvisor rating. After setting up camp, I had time for a shower before walking half a mile to the town’s only store where I had an enormous burger at 5pm while watching CNN, washed down by a beautiful thickshake. I had been thirsty all day, and will have to take care I drink enough in future. A bonus of the heavy winter rain in California is that many usually dry streams have water in them and there is more green vegetation and wildflowers. This will cease to be a bonus when I get into the High Sierras.
As the sun went down, more hikers arrived, and I would guess there are 30-40 here. All are friendly, though I haven’t gone out of my way to strike up conversations. It also got very cold as I typed my blog at a picnic table wearing many of my clothes. I’m hoping to do about 20 miles tomorrow, but will modify my plans if too fatigued. I’m going to be very stiff in the morning.