PCT 2019: Day 7, Stagecoach Trails RV Resort to Tentsite at Mile 85.3

Wondered how tomorrow could ever follow today

I didn’t sleep well last night. Unsurprisingly, the cot I slept on was not comfortable.

The one good thing that could be said about the night was it didn’t get chilly.

When I finally gave up on sleeping, I had no way to know what a fun day today would be.

DateSaturday, March 30, 2019
WeatherClear skies; high temperature in mid 60s in Julian, mid 70s in the desert
Trail ConditionsLong climb from Scissors Crossing, then easier traverse around mountain sides
Today's Miles9.0
Trip Miles85.3

The tramily members made plans to gather at 8:30 a.m. and then go together into the small town of Julian.

We could have stayed last night in the town instead of the RV park, but there weren’t any accommodations well-suited for hikers. Julian was very much a tourist town, and because this was a weekend, motel rooms were too pricey for us.

It took a little longer than planned to get organized, so it was closer to 9 a.m. before we were ready to hitch a ride into town. We made a plan to meet at Mom's Pie House.

We weren’t as lucky today for getting a ride as we had been yesterday. Now with Falls and Outlier, our group had grown to ten.

The first driver to stop only had room for two people, so Tengo and Deva took that ride.

Falls, Bookworm and I got a hitch from Kim and Claire, two women from Los Angeles who were visiting Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. They were only able to take us to Scissors Crossing, but we figured from there it wouldn’t be difficult to get a ride into Julian.

That turned out to be true. Within a couple minutes of being dropped off we were picked up by a guy named Mike, who was driving a beat-up old van. Before long the whole group was together again at Mom’s Pie House.

The restaurant wasn’t a random choice for a meeting spot. We knew that Mom’s was a big supporter of the PCT. All thru-hikers who showed their trail permit received a free slice of pie, with or without ice cream, and coffee.

While we were there I bumped into Sarah. This was the first time I had seen her since we left our first campsite on Monday.

I also learned about another hiker I hadn’t seen since that day. Sarah told me that Andrea had hitched into San Diego for new shoes. We both hoped she was back on the trail by now.

All of the storefronts in Julian had façades like buildings in the Old West. The town’s citizens adopted a plan in 1976 that mandated all exteriors of buildings on Main Street could not be newer than 1913.

This led to some bitter feelings, which came to a head when a developer tried to open a couple of fast food restaurants. To gain approval he leveraged a big advantage he held. He owned one of the few wells in Julian and agreed to give the town 30,000 gallons of badly-needed water per day.

The strong-arm move brought new resentment, which was so strong the businesses soon failed for lack of customers.

After finishing our pie, we split up and agreed to meet again at 2 p.m. to return to the trail.

I went across the street to a general store and purchased a few food items in order to extend my supply until I got to Warner Springs, where I had shipped a resupply box.

Then a few of us walked a block down the street to Julian Beer Company for a lunch of pizza and beer.

While we stood in line to order, a manager was preparing a sign for a new beer being put on the menu. The beer didn’t have a name yet, so she asked those of us standing in line if we had any suggestions. She said it was an IPA with lots of mango flavor.

Bookworm blurted out, “Mucho Mango!” She liked the name, so not only did she use it, she gave Bookworm a free beer.

The tramily members who had eaten lunch at another restaurant eventually joined us at the brewery, then we grabbed our packs and began walking to the edge of town. We figured that would be the best spot for hitchhiking a ride back to the trail.

We didn’t get picked up right away, so Hootenanny got proactive. He talked the driver of a pickup truck into driving some of us back to Scissors Crossing. There were several shouts of “Woo hoo!” on the ride.

The rest of the Woo Hoo Crew were already there when we arrived.

Scissors Crossing was a highway junction with an odd offset. One of the roads at the split intersection was Highway S2, also known historically by several other names, like Great Southern Overland Route, Southern Emigrant Trail and Butterfield Stage Trail. To be accurate, though, the stage route didn’t follow the same path as the highway.

The Butterfield route was only run from 1858 to 1861, but it had huge importance on the state following the Gold Rush of 1849. The route was named for John Butterfield, the founder of the American Express Company, who won the contract for an overland mail from Missouri to San Francisco.

The PCT crossed the highway at Scissors Crossing, but we left the trail yesterday at a spot eight-tenths-of-a-mile down the road from there. In order to keep my commitment to hike every hikeable mile, I didn’t want to skip that short section. Fortunately, everyone in our group was thinking the same thing.

We dropped our packs at the junction, then made quick work of the section by walking to where we left yesterday, then walked back.

Soon we were heading north again with our packs. A short distance away was an overpass. This was a place where hikers often rested to get out of the sun. Trail magic could usually be found there and we found some cold drinks provided by a kind hiker named Magic Man.

We didn’t stay long because we hadn’t been on the trail long and by now the time was 3:30 p.m. If we were going to get any decent mileage in today we needed to get moving.

The next couple miles were a continuous climb, but it was enjoyable because we passed many varieties of wildflowers and blooming cactus.

I stopped along the way to chat with a day hiker named Bill, who was 76 years old and from Temecula. He told me he’s hiked on all of the trails around here for the last 60 years and has never seen the desert as full of color and greenery as it was today.

I took my time making the climb so I could enjoy the views and take photos. It seemed as though the trail was maintained as a horticultural garden with meticulous landscaping.

The trail went up steeply at times.

Outlier was going slowly because she was still having trouble with her knees and feet. She told me she was going to stop earlier than our planned campsite.

For nearly the whole way I could see long views of Scissors Crossing and the valley we had come from today, as well as the Laguna Mountains we had walked across the last couple days.

As the trail ascended, the mix of flowers and cactus changed. I began to see large clumps of purple lupines growing among yucca.

I spent so much time taking pictures and enjoying the views, I fell behind the other tramily members. Because the terrain was so wide open, however, I rarely lost sight of them.

The sun set at 6:45 p.m. and I didn’t arrive at our campsite until 7:15. I didn’t mind, though. From beginning to end, this had been a thoroughly enjoyable day.

It didn’t seem possible that any day on the trail could be better than this one.

Took my chances on a big jet plane
Never let them tell you that they're all the same.
The sea was red and the sky was grey
Wondered how tomorrow could ever follow today

From "Going to California” by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin)

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