Date: Saturday, 29 April 2017
Start: Campsite in small dry canyon by trail, 3129 ft
Finish: Highway 78, 2259 ft
Daily Miles: 4.3 PCT
Total PCT Miles: 77.3
Weather: Sunny and warm
Accommodation: Room at Julian Lodge
Breakfast: Breakfast burrito, hash browns and vanilla shake
Lunch: Beef stew and rhubarb and strawberry pie with ice-cream
Dinner: Meatloaf, vegetables and salad, and ice cream.
Aches: None really
Highlight: Plenty, although perhaps the most memorable was getting a lift within seconds from the first vehicle that came by when I started hitching to Julian on reaching Highway 78. I had actually started walking down towards a better spot to hitch about 200 metres away when the four door pickup stopped and offered me a lift. I chucked my pack in the back and jumped in. As soon as we started driving I saw there were three girl PCT hikers hitching from the point I had been walking to. Fortunately, the nice guy, a real estate agent on his way to work in Julian, said we could squeeze the three girls and their gear in and away we went. Later, the girls were giving me a hard time about stealing their ride after they had been waiting for some time.
Lowlight: The room price at the Julian Lodge is a little high, but it is a Saturday night and I was lucky to get a room.
Pictures: Click here
Position: Click here
Map: Click here for Google Map
I enjoyed my long sleep in my quiet little canyon with a view, and started hiking soon after 6:30am on another perfect day. The walking was easy with the last few miles very pleasant across the valley floor through the desert. Of course, knowing I had only four miles to the highway and then the rest of the day off lifted my mood.
I reached the highway where a few PCT hikers were gathered under the road bridge in a dry watercourse. Hidden under the bridge was a huge dump of full large water bottles left just for PCT hikers! I didn’t need to fill up since I planned to hitch-hike into Julian but others were taking advantage.
I quickly got a lift for the 12 mile winding drive up the mountain to the tourist village of Julian at over 4000 ft. One of the girls I shared a lift with said a friend had phoned ahead and accommodation was scarce, so I quickly began looking at 8:30am. The first place was full, but the second had a room at a high price which I took, although I couldn’t get into the room until after 2pm. They didn’t have a laundry, but suggested I try Carmen’s a short distance away. Carmen’s turned out to be the place where budget-conscious PCT hikers stay and I met up again with the three girls from the ride into town plus many other hikers, some of whom I recognised from the trail. I think the accommodation was mostly dorm-like, and I’m not sure there was anywhere to have a shower, but the hikers were having a great time and Carmen proved to be a popular hostess. She said I could do my washing later when the current loads were done, so after chatting with some fellow hikers, I walked down the street and bought an excellent breakfast at a diner.
Julian was a popular weekend destination and it was soon filled with tourists, many arriving by motor bike. There were about four bakeries in town and many other boutique/curio shops. I was still wearing my dirty smelly hiking gear and boots, but the town is used to PCT hikers. After a trip to the Post Office to get rid of some gear I no longer need, I sat on a bench in the street and ended up talking to a local old-timer for a while before returning to Carmen’s. The washing machine was free, so I did a quick strip in a storage cupboard changing into my clean raingear and put everything else into the wash. Payment was refused, so I bought some lunch in Carmen’s restaurant while the machine ran.
Afterwards, I sat around chatting with the “hiker trash” out the back of Carmen’s with the main entertainment being provided by girls working on their blisters, and there were some goodies. The dryer wasn’t working so I hung my gear on makeshift clothes lines strung up around where we were sitting. Several hikers were going down to Mom’s pie shop, where it turned out PCT hikers could get a free slice of pie with ice-cream and a glass of cider on producing their long distance hiking permits and showing ID. Apparently Mom hiked 500 miles of the PCT a few years ago. It was a happy hiker gathering in the very popular shop with German being the predominant nationality.
After that, I retrieved my washing, checked into my room, had a much needed shower (hiking in desert country means not washing at all for days, and we all have dirt ingrained into our bodies and clothes), and then went shopping for the next five days in the two very small town groceries. After repacking my purchases, I went to a cafe in town for a nice meal and returned to my room to do my blog and some chores. My tablet’s battery just lasted five days, so I have mailed my heavy battery extender a few weeks ahead and will see how I go without it.
I have had a pleasant day and made good use of my time off. Back on the trail earlyish tomorrow morning (might as well make use of the 7:30am free continental breakfast), assuming I can get a timely lift.