PCT CA Section C

Nov. 19: Onsen Visit Episode

I managed to get packed up enough to exit my tent shortly after the sun started peeking over the mountains, and was pretty much ready to go by the time the sunlight actually reached my campsite.

By 8:30, I had reached the highway where I had to pass near some intense roadwork. I had to squeeze past an enormous dormant loader blocking the trail.

I stopped at the lakeside picnic area to try to get some water from the faucets, but the whole thing was locked up, shut down, faucets off. There were still trash cans there to drop some extra pack weight into.

I climbed up onto the ridgeside and followed the trail around Lake Arrowhead until a boat-in picnic area was in view. Here there were picnic tables, unlocked privies, and easy beach access just a hundred feet below the trail. I stopped my pack and took only my water bag. The beach was also littered with enormous snails. I took some lake water back up to the trail to filter. It was perfectly fine to drink.

As soon as the trail left the lake, there would be no easy access to water for several miles. The trail climbed over and descended to a road. The next mile or so was entirely in the road easement. Eventually, it climbed back up onto the side of the same ridge and continued following the road from a higher vantage. A lot of families were out day hiking in this bit for some reason.

I followed a wide story road into the mouth of a canyon and eventually came upon Deep Creek. Once I could find a spot to jump across it without getting my feet wet, I began to climb an enormous embankment, a steep series of switchbacks to a dusty parking area at its top. The trail got much easier from here on, as it had been literally carved from the rock wall of the canyon, built on stacked stone. It was nearly level.

The sun disappeared quickly as I worked my way up the canyon on this easy bit of trail, but I avoided turning on my headlamp at all until I was practically on top of Deep Creek Hot Springs. I searched the area carefully to find the most hidden and tucked away spot to make camp. The sign in the middle of the area marked it as Day Use Only, but it was the only heavily impacted area in the whole canyon, and probably the only place where a level campsite could be found for several more miles. Breaking that rule was the best of a bad choice.

While I was cooking supper, some headlamps came down, so I turned mine off to not be noticed there. After listening to them for a while, it was clear they were just youths visiting the springs in the night, so I went to make them aware of my presence.

After supper, I made my dessert drink and went to join them in the nearest and most easily accessed pool. We chatted in the dark (because I went in nude to avoid getting my hiking shorts wet) for an hour and then they left to hike out. I stayed in the pool for a long time, not eager to step out into the cold of the night before getting ready to return to camp. Also the view of the rocks above me in front of the starry sky was too magical to leave in haste. I immediately discovered that my shorts had fallen down into a crack where they had gotten soaked by water splashing over the pool’s dam.

I walked back to my tent wrapped in a towel and hung the shorts from a nearby tree to dry overnight and went to bed in my long johns instead. It was probably almost 11 by the time I finished blogging and went to sleep, my latest bedtime on the trail since I had returned to socal.

Total distance: 22 miles

Lake Arrowhead
Deep Creek canyon

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