Date: Friday, 19 May 2017
Start: Camped by the trail at Mile 407.3, 5315 ft
Finish: Messenger Flats Primitive Campground at Mile 430.4, 5886 ft
Daily Miles: 23.1 PCT
Total PCT Miles: 430.4
Weather: Mild to warm, sunny and breezy
Dinner: Rehydrated vegetarian lasagne
Aches: Very tired
Highlight: The walk across the shoulder of Pacifico Mt early in the day, passing through giant conifers in meadow-like terrain with views east and north across the desert far below.
Lowlight: The last four miles was very tough. Knowing there would be no water at my target campsite, I loaded on four litres at the last stream for the final four miles. I didn’t realise that most of those four miles would be climbing over the shoulder of Mt Gleason. It was still warmish and at the end of a long day motivation and fitness were at a low ebb. Still had time to admire the brilliant views and enjoy the alpine forest, though.
Pictures: Click here
Position: 34.3798, -118.18933
Map: Click here for Google Map
I left at the usual 6:30am expecting to be in desert-like country for most of the day, but I was wrong, though water was scarce. Initially, the trail climbed steadily over the shoulder of Pacifico Mt, with the vegetation changing from arid scrub to pleasing open forest with clear views to the desert far below. From there the trail slowly descended along the northern side of a range of mountains giving views to the valley that included several towns and many roads, but all in the far distance.
My lunch stop was at the Mill Creek Fire Station that was in a gap in the mountains, presumably to deal with forest fires. It also provided a water source for thirsty hikers from a faucet in a picnic area where several hikers were taking a break. Some were familiar, including a young German, Waldo, who I have seen many times.
From the Fire Station, the trail climbed back up onto the northern side of the mountain range and continued eastwards. Some parts were quite overgrown and I was conscious the notorious Poodle Dog bush was prevalent in the area. From the same family as Poison Oak, it can send you to hospital if enough touches your skin. Of course, I have little idea what it looks like and contact with the overgrowing vegetation was hard to avoid, so chances are I have brushed up against some. Apparently I’ll know in a couple of days.
My last break for the day was to be at a small stream to collect water for the final four miles to camp. I hadn’t seen that many hikers all day, but there were about ten gathered at the stream, mostly lying around and not looking keen for the last miles of the day, and neither was I. I loaded up four litres, probably more than I would need, but I really enjoy a flannel wash at the end of a long sweaty day so carried a little extra. The last four miles was a grind, and I was exhausted when I reached the campground, but after setting up camp, having a wash and eating, I felt much better.
Tomorrow will be a half day hiking to a commercial campground, Acton KOA, where I will be able to do laundry, have a shower, and even order pizza for dinner.