170523 – Sawmill Mountain

Day:  030
Date:  Tuesday, 23 May 2017
Start: Boy Scout Trail Camp at Mile 489.9, 4532 ft
Finish:  Camped by trail and puddles at Mile 510.9, 3839 ft
Daily Miles:  21.0 PCT, 2.0 to spring and back
Total PCT Miles:  510.9
Weather:  Very warm and sunny
Accommodation:  Tent
     Breakfast:  Muesli
     Lunch:  Gorp
     Dinner:  Savoury chicken flavoured rice and pasta
Aches:  Small blister under right heel (now cut open)
Highlight:  Camped almost precisely on top of the San Andreas Fault.  Hope the big one doesn’t happen tonight!

Lowlight:  Long sections of very buggy trail where myriads of insects would be buzzing around your face for miles on end, occasionally flying into eyes and nostrils.  Also a lot of biting black flies that made one break a misery.
Pictures:  Click here

Position:  Click here.
Map:  Click here for Google Map

Despite a good night’s sleep,  I still felt quite tired as I set off at 6:30.  I didn’t have a lot of water left and was concerned about where the day’s supply points would be.  There are some cisterns (or “guzzlers”, large tanks set up to catch rainwater a long time ago, but not maintained, and now filled with frequently stagnant and bug infested water) along the trail, but I wasn’t keen on using them despite having the means to purify the water.  As it turned out, after 90 minutes hiking I met a guy coming the other way who confirmed that the “unreliable” stream/spring at a campground a mile off the trail did have reasonable water.  I detoured down to the “ghost campground”, once a Forest Service facility with tables, parking bays, faucets (not working), pit toilets, etc., which has not been used for a long time.  It was eerie, though peaceful, and getting overgrown.  I found the trail down to the water and after drinking as much as I possibly could (I’m thirsty all of the time), loaded up four litres to see me through the day without having to resort to the cisterns.  It was a very steep trail down to the water, and consequently, a tough climb back up, costing me about an hour altogether.

By now it was getting quite hot again, and with the load of water and fatigue accumulated over the last few days, my pack felt heavy.  Despite this, I could appreciate the beauty of the walk which mostly clung high to the north side of the very long Sawmill Mountain.  It wasn’t too up and down, and there were occasional views to the desert floor below, where I will be hiking tomorrow, where could be seen windfarms and massive solar panel farms.  Most of the time the trail passed through beech-type forest and occasional meadows.  The only downside was the insects, which were voracious.  I even hiked some miles wearing my insect net over my head.

For the last couple of hours, the PCT descended, fairly steeply at times, down off the mountain and I reached my target stop for the night about 5:45pm, a little later than hoped.  The water is just some puddles in a creek that is not flowing, but if you ignore the mosquitoes and bugs floating in it, it is quite clear.  The mosquitoes didn’t make sitting outside eating dinner very pleasant, so I was glad to finally get in my tent.

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