Date: Friday, 28 April 2017
Start: Campsite in boulder field, 5219 ft
Finish: Campsite in small dry canyon by trail, 3129 ft.
Daily Miles: 17.1 PCT, 2.4 to spring and back
Total PCT Miles: 73.0
Weather: Warm and sunny
Dinner: Rehydrated chilli mac
Aches: Tired all over. Back of hands very sunburnt.
Highlight: Desert garden scenery, with many varieties of cactii and other arid vegetation.
Lowlight: Arriving at the last water supply point on the trail today, a fire-fighting tank on Rodriguez Trail, to find it literally had just run dry. I dropped my pack, donned my running (camp) shoes, and set off down the track for just over a mile downhill to a spring where water was available, filled my bottles, and returned to my pack. All the hikers had to do the same, but I didn’t hear anybody complaining.
Pictures: Click here
The wind made for a terrible night. I could not sleep because of the violently wind-whipped tent. After an hour, I dropped the poles in the hope that the lower profile would help, but it just meant I was being constantly slapped in the head. Around 10:30pm, I gave up on the tent and pulled it down and put it away, then found a gap between two rocks, pinned my groundsheet with more rocks, and slept under the stars. The wind still tried to rip my sleeping bag off me, but at least I got some interrupted sleep.
I got up at 5:45 and was on the trail an hour later. The wind had subsided, and it was a beautiful desert morning, though by 8am there was already a lot of heat in the sun. The trail had a lot of loose rock sections and was hard work under the unrelenting sun. It gradually lost altitude, but there were still lots of ups and downs, some steep. I was finding it hard work and could tell my hiker colleagues were feeling the same. The local radio station said the temperature was in the upper 80s.
Nevertheless, the scenery was still spectacular, and many trail sections offered dress circle views over the valleys far below and the arid mountain ranges ahead. There were plenty of places to avoid stumbling. Water was always an issue, with constant calculations about how much was needed between water sources. Despite drinking plenty, my mouth was parched most of the time. I was dreaming of ice cold Diet Cokes, but sadly none appeared.
The last water source for the day had just run out, and getting water from a spring way down the valley took about an hour and a half. This put paid to my plan to reach Hwy 78 and hitch into the small town of Julian tonight. Instead I have camped about 4 miles from the highway, feeling totally exhausted (not helped by last night), and intending to get to the highway early tomorrow and then have the rest of the day off in Julian. Hopefully I can get a motel room on a Saturday night.