Today begins the second week of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and things could not be better. The weather has been ideal. Water has been available despite the desert terrain. I have enjoyed getting to know new friends. And I have found the trail was very hikeable.
In other words, last week was perfect. Today was too.
|Date||Monday, April 1, 2019|
|Weather||Clear, turning overcast late; low temperature in mid 50s, high temperature in low 70s|
|Trail Conditions||Mostly easy trail with very few loose rocks|
No, wait. I didn’t get to see Bigfoot. Other than that, today was also perfect.
We camped last night on an exposed ridge, but the wind never picked up. The temperature remained comfortable overnight.
The campsite offered a view of the sunrise.
Falls, MJ, Rainbow Sherbet, and Tengo were the first to leave camp this morning. I left with Deva, Captain, and Gilligan.
Though he started later, it didn’t take Bookworm long before he caught up and passed me.
Sure, he was nearly 40 years younger than me, but I had no reason to complain. The trail was easy to walk.
For a time, the sections that were in shade were a little chilly. That soon changed as the sun continued to rise.
We had to pass through several pipe gates today. There had been a few on previous days, but there were an unusually large number of gates this morning.
Though I haven’t yet seen any livestock on or near the trail, I assume the gates were intended to keep animals in grazing fields.
The sky remained clear. With the wide open terrain, it was easy to see ahead to where I was heading and look back to where I had been.
Last night's campsite was at an elevation of 3,281 feet. Over the next 11 miles we would climb 1,100 feet higher, but the change was so gradual it was barely noticeable.
Wildflowers and cactus offered a constant reason to stop and look. They were everywhere.
I didn’t expect to see so many lupines on this trip. I had always thought of them as being native to northern and higher elevation climes.
I’ve since learned that there are more than 200 varieties of these flowers, and they range all up and down the North and South American continents. They are said to have a strong ability to adapt to their environment.
After about 90 minutes of walking, I found Gilligan and Captain taking a short break.
Today was another day of frequent breaks. That has been a normal pattern for the Woo-hoo Crew. For this stop, I only stayed for a brief chat before continuing on.
I was beginning to see varieties of flowers I had not yet seen in the desert, such as the blue phacelia. It’s also called wild heliotrope or scorpionweed.
When I wasn’t distracted by the display of wildflowers, I was noticing large yucca plants. Many were blooming.
Another 90 minutes after the last break, it was time to stop again. This break took longer because I stopped for water.
A cache had been set up for hikers on a spur trail about two-tenths-of-a-mile from the main trail.
A short distance down the spur trail, I found other tramily members sitting in the shade. The day was warming up and there weren't many shady spots in this section.
The water cache at the bottom of the spur trail was impressive. Several pallets were stacked high with gallon jugs of water.
We were on a long stretch of dry trail, so the cache was a valuable help. I left some money in a donation jar, then guzzled 1.5 liters of water before refilling my water bottles.
Hootenanny and I left the spur trail at the same time, so we walked together.
After rounding a curve we came upon a huge display of California poppies. Bright orange flowers blanketed large swaths of distant ridges. Many more poppies were found near us on both sides of the trail.
The poppies were everywhere. I had read this year could be the best ever for a desert super bloom, and now I was beginning to see why.
A super bloom is the result of a wet winter and spring, with cold temperatures in the spring to lock moisture in the ground.
There were so many wildflowers this year it’s reported they could be viewed from space.
This section of the trail was in San Felipe Hills Wilderness Study Area, which covers 5,325 acres. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management concluded in 1991 that the area did not meet the criteria for protecting the land in the more restricted regulations of a wilderness area.
Hootenanny and I continued walking together until we reached a spot where the other Woo-hoo Crew members had stopped for lunch.
Next to them was a small cave, perhaps the result of a failed mining operation.
The cave wasn’t large or deep, but it was big enough for Bookworm to crawl in and take a nap.
Walking in the remainder of the afternoon was even easier than the morning. After leaving the cave, the trail went gradually downhill and the sky was becoming lightly overcast.
There was evidence that a maintenance crew had recently done work on this section.
For most of the way, I walked by myself. I happened to check my phone for cell service and found a text from Falls. He warned that a rattlesnake was sitting near the marker for 100 miles.
When I reached the marker, which was similar to the 50 mile marker made in stones, I didn’t see any snakes.
I arrived at a campsite near a water trough just before 5 p.m. MJ and Rainbow Sherbet were already there and had set up their tents.
The spot seemed a little close to Highway S22, which is also called Montezuma Valley Road. The rest of the group felt it would be better to continue across the road about four-tenths of a mile to another tenting area. The road wasn’t busy, but we were betting the area there was a little more secluded and quiet.
The water in the horse trough wasn’t ideal, but it was all that was available. I filtered some for tonight’s dinner and the start of hiking tomorrow, then crossed the road.
The tentsite on the other side was more secluded, as we had guessed, but we still heard occasional traffic noise on the road.
If we had wanted, we could have hitched about four miles down the road to a small store in a town called Ranchita. The store features a giant statue of Bigfoot called "Rancheti the Yeti.”
I’m not making this up, but I’m also not clear why the statue is there.
Regretfully, we remained at our campsite instead of hitching to see the statue. Nevertheless, it was another good day.
I thought I had a once-in-a-lifetime experience when I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, but I was beginning to think this trail would surpass that.
Some folks would be happy
Just to have one dream come true
But everything you gather
Is just more that you can lose