Date: Sunday, 21 May 2017
Start: Acton KOA (Kampgrounds of America), near Mile 444.3, 2226 ft
Finish: Camped by trail at Bouquet Canyon Road crossing at Mile 465.6, 3323 ft
Daily Miles: 21.3 PCT
Total PCT Miles: 465.6
Weather: Very warm and sunny all day
Breakfast: Cheese omelette and hash browns.
Lunch: Turkey and cheese toasted sandwich and ice-cream
Dinner: Chicken & broccoli flavoured rice
Aches: Some chafing
Highlight: Getting a lot done in one day, including good miles and five days resupply.
Lowlight: For once, a poor camp experience. Firstly, I didn’t get to somewhere I could camp until 7pm. Partly this was because the first available water after Agua Dulce was nine miles away, so I needed to get there, load up with four litres of water, and then hike until I found a spot to camp. When I reached a site, I found that there was a water cache there, so I need not have carried the water (on top of five days food….a heavy pack). The place was very buggy, including a lot of mosquitoes. Then, not being able to get my usual freeze-dried meals in Agua Dulce, I tried Knorr Sides for the first time. Not knowing whether one or two packets would be enough, I tried two. My brew boiled over the side of my nice JetBoil cookset and the rice stuck badly to the bottom. And it was too much food (though I had had a big lunch). I’ll have to finish trying to clean the pot tomorrow after letting it soak overnight. The final straw was when I eventually got into my tent, much later than usual to escape the mozzies and write my journal, one of the tent pegs came loose and I had to get out again and reset the tent. Not happy!
Pictures: Click here
Position: Click here
Map: Click here for Google Map
Firstly, I forgot to mention that the night before last a mountain lion was howling close enough to our Messenger Flats campsite to keep a few of us awake for a while.
I had a poor night’s sleep at the KOA last night. They screened a kids movie outdoors close to my tent that didn’t finish until 10pm and then general merriment in the busy site, not to mention traffic on an adjacent main road, meant a very interrupted night. Anyway, I still got up at 5:30am and headed out at 6:30am with the intention of trying to hike the ten miles to Agua Dulce non-stop and then get breakfast at the cafe there. The trail had to climb over a small mountain range and on a very warm morning, by 8am, any benefit I had from washing my gear yesterday had gone as I was bathed in sweat. On the other side of the range the trail went through a long tunnel way below a freeway and emerged in a surprisingly pleasant and scenic Escondido Canyon before climbing to the even more scenic Vasquez Rocks area with slanting and eroded huge rock formations, already being climbed by many tourists. Apparently a number of movies have been filmed in the area, and I can imagine why.
Emerging from the rocks area the trail went up the main street of the small community of Agua Dulce where I arrived around 10am. It seemed reasonably wealthy with most homes having a couple of acres as well as horses. The centre of town was just a few stores including a small supermarket and a few cafes. I spotted Waldo and the Pennsylvania hiker (can’t remember his name!) who I had ordered pizza with last night already breakfasting on the cafe deck and I joined them. Later we were joined by “Cat Woman” who had collected a month-old kitten in Wrightwood and was now hiking with it, garnering a lot of attention. I suspect Cat Woman does a bit of hitchhiking as well, as she has had some injuries. We had a pleasant breakfast and then I went shopping for supplies as were a number of other hikers I have got to know. Most are staying at Hiker Heaven in Agua Dulce tonight, but I decided to continue on.
Some hikers seem to be taking a break from the trail for one reason or another. One guy hired a car and headed to Las Vegas. Another (my age) had to return home for a week while his daughter has surgery, Octane is having some time off with shin splints, and others needed to get gear replaced. It’s easy to get into Los Angeles from this area by public transport.
After finishing and repacking my shopping, I bought lunch and sat at an outdoor table outside the supermarket and ate while watching the world go by. About 2:20pm, I headed out of town under the hot sun for what turned out to be a 2000 ft climb over another mountain range and eventually camped at around 7pm. Of the 20 or so PCT hikers who came into Agua Dulce this morning, I think I was the only one to continue hiking, but that’s OK. I hope to make the next town near the trail, Tehachapi, 100 miles from where I am camped, by midday Friday at the latest, and then will take a few days off to organise my food parcels for the High Sierras that come soon afterwards. It will be an interesting five days hiking because there are some long waterless desert stretches and high temperatures are forecast. Some hikers are planning to hike at night, and maybe I will too if it gets too hot.