Date: Sunday, 7 May 2017
Start: Campsite in Whitewater Preserve near Mile 219, 2208 ft
Finish: Campsite in Mission Creek Trail Camp near Mile 240, 7928 ft
Daily Miles: 21.3 PCT, 0.6 from Whitewater Preserve
Total PCT Miles: 239.9
Weather: Partly cloudy and mild during the day, but cold with light snow later on
Accommodation: Tent in Mission Creek Trail Camp
Dinner: Rehydrated chicken teriyaki
Aches: Nothing in particular
Highlight: The early hours of hiking on the broad canyon floor with towering rocky mountains on either side.
Lowlight: Setting up camp in the snow, which wasn’t something I had anticipated, when it was very cold (no chance of a wash).
Pictures: Click here
Map: Click here for Google Map
It was windy with light rain showers throughout the night, but they seemed to stop at dawn and I was away by 6:40, though had to pack the tent away wet. My goal for the day was a campsite with a spring 21 miles away, and I wanted to get there before 5pm so I could have a relaxing evening. Well I got there at 5pm, but didn’t have the evening I had anticipated.
Almost the entire day was spent following the trail up scenic winding canyons, with frequent stream crossings, and occasional copses of trees. I was tired from yesterday, so just plodded along and didn’t take long breaks. The weather couldn’t make up its mind, being warm one minute then cold and overcast the next. Then, in mid afternoon, having ascended to about 6000 ft, it began to snow lightly. I hadn’t expected that, nor had any of my fellow hikers. When I arrived at Mile 235, where there was water and some campsites, a group had assembled, donning warm clothes and discussing whether to proceed to Mile 240, my intended destination, but 2000 ft higher. I continued on, as did a couple of others, but most stayed.
It was still snowing lightly, but with little wind, and I didn’t feel the conditions were threatening. It was a tough last five miles, with steep ascents and thinner air, but interesting as it passed through a recently burnt area and with snow increasing on the ground. I finally reached the campsite, which was covered with a couple of inches of snow at 5pm, and it was cold. As quick as I could, I cleared a patch of ground for my tent, got some water for dinner from the literally icy spring, got into my sleeping bag, unwashed, and cooked some warming dinner. I’m regretting discarding my long johns and gloves at Idyllwild, but it wasn’t supposed to be still snowing here.