PCT mm 118.5 – Trees at last

Live oak trees in San Ysidro Canyon.


Today was a fun day.  I got an early start again after camping without the tarp so I can watch the stars.  I’m doing that again tonight and probably every night not forecast for rain.  As I was stirring at about 4 am I noticed another light about 30 ft away from me.  Apparently I had camped at a spot that already had a camper last night and didn’t even know it.  I never saw him, he left about ten minutes before I did, but I’m pretty sure it was John from Arizona.  I met him that morning and he can book.  I’m certain that I’ll never see him again.  [Post hike:  Yes, it was John – he was known as Robocop and has apparently done the PCT several times.  He normally does 40 mile days.  I heard he injured himself before the Sierras and got off trail.]

The first major milestone – 100 miles!

The morning was warm but not unbearable.  It went through very large Meadows where some cows were grazing and also San Ysidro creek, which was quite nice.  There was a rock outcropping called Eagle Rock, which I did not stop for.  [Post hike: – I wish I had, the rock formation looks like an eagle flying out of the ground.  Next time, I’ll be sure to stop for more of these things that are close by.  I was jealous of other hikers after seeing their pictures.]  All this led me to Warner Springs where my first mail resupply was waiting.

Random hiker making their way across the meadow.

Eagle Rock is the unassuming cluster of rocks in the distance. They were only 100 yards off the traill,

The meadow was teeming with grasshoppers that made it sound like rain as you hiked along.

I got there about 12:30 after a 16 mile morning.  There is a community resources center just off the trail with a small store, showers, and laundry.  They will even shuttle you a mile to the post office.  Well as luck would have it, they closed for the season yesterday.  And their idea of laundry or shower was using a bucket.  The water was still on so I had a go at laundering my disgusting white shirt and khaki pants.  The pants came out fair. It the shirt still isn’t white and probably never will be ever again.  A quickie bucket bath and I’m ready for relaxing.

Someone was leaving the parking lot when I got there so I was able to get a ride to the post office and back, but did not have time to stop at the diner.  As I was repacking my food bags, I noticed that if you left any food unattended for five seconds, that it would be attacked by crows.  They got a bag of trail mix and one granola bar.  No big loss as I have one or two days too much food.

I was able to charge my cell phone and headlamp.  I’ve been hiking in the dark enough that it was getting dangerously low on power.  I have started carrying spare batteries in my pocket when night hiking so I can make a quick swap of needed.  I have a small squeeze light attached to the pack straps so I can see to change the batteries.

I started eating as much of my food as possible because I had too much and didn’t go to the diner.  It’s hard to eat trail food when you know a diner is one mile away.

A thermometer on one of the buildings read 102 but I don’t think it’s accurate.  The temperature is still supposed to go up each day peaking on Saturday.  All of San Diego county is under a heatwave alert Friday thru Sunday.  They advise not being outside.  I’ll have to keep playing my off hour hiking strategy to beat the heat.

I mingled with a large group of hikers at the community center.  This is the first time I have seen more than one or two other hikers.  I must be slowly catching the bubble.  There are about a dozen hikers here.  One of them referred to me as “Dirty Gil” in an offhand comment and it seemed to amuse the other hikers.  I think I have been transitioned from Gilligan to Dirty Gil.  It may not be flattering, but at least it’s unique.  [Post hike: Yes, indeed, the name Dirty Gil stuck and I stopped fighting it once I got to Kennedy Meadows and wrote it on my hat to make it official.]

A couple from Oregon said that a friend texted them about a beer festival at a town a few days away.  Looking at the calendar, I just might be able to make it.  Challenge accepted.

I left the center at 6 PM and hiked nearly four hours to 10 PM.  The trail exited town across more Meadows then went up a canyon that had an actual flowing creek.  Imagine that.  I climbed up to the top of the ridge to be in cool air tonight and to not have to burn up all that energy first thing in the morning. I hope I am able to find a shade tree tomorrow about noon or its going to be another hot one.  I saw about a third of the hikers from the center pass me while I was camping.


  1. Jim, how often are you able to talk to Karen? What kind of cell phone coverage do you get out there in the desert?

    • It’s very sporadic. in the low areas, pretty much zil unless you are near a town. If you are high, then better chance. I have had service at some point every day so far except one. I try to camp big so I can call Karen in the morning when I wake up but on week days she’s already left for work. I think we have spoken twice so far, but we text more.

      • … And they also have a crowd sourced Google doc specifically for Verizon coverage. People report where they can and can’t get reception so you can look and see where the next likely place is. They have a separate ones for ATT and T-Mobile. They also do the same things ng for water so you can read reports of when spring x dried up etc.

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