PCT CA Section A PCT CA Section B

Dec. 2: Warner Springs

Once again I had great motivation to get an early start. I needed to get to Warner Springs before the post office closed to pick up my last resupply box. It was the same one I had sent from Washington to Crater Lake, where it was held for a week before being sent back to Washington, where the UPS Store forwarded it to the Etna Motel, who resent it to Warner Springs. Basically, it had been bouncing all over creation for two solid months, but it wasn’t going to waste!

On the other hand, I only had 13 miles to go to get there, and it wasn’t closing until 4pm, so why rush? I started hiking at 9am.

There wasn’t much climbing to do. The trail was mostly flat and level. Average amounts of shrubs overgrowing it. Seven miles in, I finished a gentle descent into the Agua Caliente Creek ravine. It was the most water I’d seen flowing in a week. I took a long break and collected some water here.

A few miles later I came to another huge, flat campsite on private property. There was a huge table built on posts going right into the ground and a small building for who knows what. I took another break on the table even though the road to Warner Springs was only a mile further.

Once at said road, I hide a mile road walk to the post office where I had no trouble getting my box. Next door was a convenience store where I grabbed a sandwich, some hot Takis, a root beer, and some ice cream for lunch. I plugged my phone into an outlet at the end of the building (with permission) and moved all the rest of my stuff to a picnic table at the far end of the adjacent parking lot (for the country club that seemed to own the whole area). I ate first, went back for more root beer to wash away the spice, then started repacking the food from the box.

There were several things I didn’t need and just tossed, but for the most part, the box coincidentally contained just the right amount of all my main staples so that I wouldn’t need to resupply again if I kept a good pace. It all fit just fine. (I was also happy to be back in supply of Knorr Rice Sides with only one Mahatma left, meaning no more need to contaminate my Nalgene with rice every afternoon.)

I called home of course, but I also called Mountain Valley Retreat to finalize a stay there the following night. Then I put my stuff back together and hiked out of town the other direction. I found a “hiking riding trail” just a bit down the road that cut across some open fields and connected back up with the PCT, avoiding the road walk. It passed right through a patch of post-ripe Coyote Melons, which I had never seen before. I thought they were miniature pumpkins.

The PCT here was also a heavily-trafficked tourist lane, wide and flat even as it left the creek and went out into a wide open plain. I past at least a dozen people on my way out of town, many of them well after dark. It was easy enough to see the wide trail without light, so I may have surprised a few of them coming out of the dark. The last remnants of twilight were well gone when I climbed the hill up to Eagle Rock, passing a family having an equally late adventure. Perhaps I didn’t see Eagle Rock the way it was meant to be seen, but the form was still readily apparent. I’ll just say I saw it in a more uncommon way.

Beyond Eagle Rock, the PCT got thinner and less flat. Tourists didn’t go any further. I kept walking without a headlamp even so, not wanting my progress to be easily seen from the distant roads with there being no trees, hills, or rocks to obstruct anyone’s views. If there was anywhere that I was likely to be busted for illegal camping, it would be here, so close to civilization. I turned my light on once the trail entered a maze of higher shrubs and then began working its way slowly down into the ravine of San Ysidro Creek. Once I came to the water’s edge, I hunted around for a bit and eventually found a flat, previously used campsite just on the other side of the creek. I started cooking and setting up camp. I had to modify the way I set up my tent because at some point during the day, the metal tips had broken off both of my trekking poles. It was another pretty late night. I probably wasn’t even in bed until 9.

The cold Santa Ana winds picked up steadily all night, and were already gusting up to 35 mph by morning. Not really much of a problem for me in my tent down in that winding ravine though.

Total distance: 18 miles

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