Roamin Joe's PCT Web Journal

Follow Roamin Joe along the PCT


April 26, 2003

First half of Campo to Morena Reservoir

Day hike from Southern Terminus to Hacienda Del Florasol

1 mile from the Border Patrol HQ in Campo to the monument, then 9-1/2 miles north, into the trail.

A beautiful 9am start! Sun, cool-breezy and 2,627 miles to look forward to!

9 boy scouts, two other kids and 4 other adults headed up the dirt road to the fence marking the international border.

My pack felt light, my feet were happy and it felt like I could do 20 miles before lunch.

mid-spring grass was tall and the wildflowers were in full blaze as we strolled from the monument, crossing the road a few times until the trail meandered west away from Campo. Crossed 94 and the railroad tracks and started a brisk elevation gain toward the first ridge. Lunch was under a tree teaming with lady bugs in a small clearing surrounded by tall grasses waving in the breeze.

Just one small stream crossing before we headed up to 3300 feet and stunning views of the nearby ranches, Moreno Reservoir to the north, and the border fence receding to the south. By 3pm, we made to the truck we deposited earlier along the trail to ferry us back to the BP HQ. Back home by 7:30 for a hot shower and a cold beer...

When I get back, I plan to stash a cache! The first of a series: Roamin' Joe's PCT 1 Cache!!!!

Looking to do the next 10 miles to the lake as a day hike before we strap on the big packs for the 2nd leg: 20 miles and sleeping under the stars. Gotta get these first few segments and past the Borrego before the summer heat arrives...

June 9, 2003

Second half of Campo to Morena Reservoir

Day hike from Hacienda Del Florasol to Morena Reservoir

1/2 mile from "the windmill" back to the PCT, then 11 miles to Morena Reservoir campgrounds.

The morning drive to San Diego, then east on the 8 freeway was drizzly-dense fog until we broke out at around 3000 feet. Back where we left off at around 9am, again. Hiked up to the PCT from "the windmill",, where we left the cars. 9 scouts again, except a couple of the originals dropped out and two new ones took their place, and six adults. The sun was warm, promising to get warmer later in the day. And it delivered! The hike down and up-out of Hauser Canyon was made more difficult than it really is by the heat radiating off the rocks. Only one run-in with a rattler. The flies were more of a nuisance...

Lunch at the bottom of the canyon, then up the couple-three switchbacks to the top. We raced to the lake to dunk our heads under the water spigots at the campgrounds! We were back in our cars by 6pm (after shoo-ing away the heard of Star Ranch cows away back at the windmill).

I don't believe we'll be back until the Fall, when the temperatures are a little more forgiving...

January 24 & 25, 2004

(finally back!)

Morena Reservoir to Mt Laguna

Ok. The scouts have lost interest in the PCT… So- I get to do it privately! It was getting to be a major logistical exercise to get the scouts on the trail anyway…

Had an awesome time! Logged another 23 miles onto the Pacific Crest Trail, from Morena Reservoir to Mt Laguna.

Started out at 9am (was hoping for an earlier start which we could have used…as I'll explain later) at the trail crossing of the park entrance with Ramblin' Dave and Mr. Bill. Mr. Bill must have had a fire lit on his tail, cuz Dave and I were playing catch up to him for the first few miles. The day stated out with my doubts about the weather forcast, which called for rain. It was "severe clear" for the past few days, and driving down to the San Diego area was in clear skies…

But by the time we got to the trail, a heavy overcast hung over us. Actually, the cool and windy conditions were ideal for the low scrub and rolling hills we hiked through! We crossed the Buckman Springs highway around 10:30am or so, stopping to grab a couple of bananas that a Trail Angel cached at the highway edge, along with water and some Ritz Crackers.

A little note here: Thank You, THANK YOU, T H A N K Y O U!!! To all the Trail Angels out there! You're assistance almost averted disaster later on in the day!!!

Crossed under the bridge and strolled through the Oak Meadow towards Boulder Oaks campground. This was a beautiful walk through the flats amid the oak trees and grasses.

Made it to Boulder Oaks for a quick lunch. Now, I was told by a USFS person at the Alpine station that Kitchen Creek was flowing. They also told me that I could park my truck at Burnt Ranchiera campground in Mt Laguna…which was closed for the season, as it turned out. So I figured that if there were at least some standing water under the freeway bridge, then the flow would be better upstream. An incorrect assumption, as it turned out. We didn't refill our platys or our nalgene bottles at Boulder Oaks, figuring that we could pump along the creek. The reminder of the day, about six more miles, we didn't see a drop of water to scrounge. If the weather was any warmer, we'd have been in trouble…

Bagged Sandy Creek Cowboy's cache with it's view of the freeway (had a dickens of a time trying to get the top of the pipe open! (And WHAT'S UP WITH ALL THAT STUFF IN THERE???!!!!).

Six miles and 1.6k of elevation gain took it's toll on us. Also bagged PCT Kitchen Creek Cache. By the time we made it close to our planned campsite, I was seriously thinking about our water situation. The same USFS person who told me that I could park at the campground in Mt Laguna, also told me that I could get water at Cibbets Flat campground, where we were headed for the night.

I was starting to wonder if they had close down Cibbets as well. But when we finally got to the dirt road the trail crosses and which goes by Cibbets we found a half gallon of water cached along the trail!!!! THANK YOU TRAIL ANGELS!!!!

We grabbed the water and carried it the 1/2 mile down to the camp. We found the campground open after all. Running water, picnic tables, pit toilets and fire rings! Shweeeeet! An RV family were our only neighbors here. We stopped and said "hi" as we hiked into the campground in the failing light of sunset (or just failing light, the overcast developed into fast moving clouds just overhead. This is why I'd have liked to start the day earlier.). We dropped packs and started dinner (chicken & pasta with french roll. Yum!)

After dinner, it was our traditional happy hour, popping the Foster Oilcan I shlepped 13 miles in! after that and dinner clean-up, we were about to start a small campfire, but the rain that was threatening all day began to fall. So- off into the tents! I got to try out the new Thermarest chair I got for my birthday, while I rummaged through my gear inside my tent. Very comfortable to sit up (or recline!) with backrest while tent-bound! As it was only about 7:30, I didn't feel like crashing out for the night. I was up for another couple hours before I pulled the straps on the chair and went to sleep.

The rain went from light to heavy during the night, not stopping till just after breakfast the next morning. We wrapped up our wet tents and packed up for the trail to Mt Laguna. Getting a late start (10:30am) and considering that we had approx 10 miles to go worried Dave and Bill. I figured we'd make good time, as the final 1.5k of gain looked to be our first task and then it was a contour hugging walk to Mt Laguna. Along the way, through Long Canyon, the creek was flowing well. I don't know if it was from the night' storm, or just that we were closer to it's spring source, but it was babbling along in small waterfalls and deep pools. And, as promised, we made it to 6k by 2pm. ALPINE finally!!!! The desert scrub made way to pines and oak, patches of snow on the ground. Absolutely beautiful! A wonderful stroll through the forest into Mt Laguna where we left the trail at Burnt Ranchiera which we needed to cross to get to where I parked my truck off the main road (sunrise highway).

February 15, 2004

Onward & Downward

Mt Laguna to Cuyamaca

I just got a small taste of what you crazy thru-hikers do…

Made it through the Cedar Fire burn area from Mt Laguna to the Fargas monument, just east of Cuyamaca. 20 miles in 9 hours (including breaks). We kept a steady pace of 3 mph (moving average). Also did a steady loss of elevation from about 6k to about 4.7k.

My legs are sore…

The original plan was to do the extra 10 miles and make it to Scissors Crossing, but more rational heads prevailed. Good thing, too. I'd have hated every step past mile 21. As it turned out, we had a great day on The Trail.

We started on the trail at Burn Ranchiera at 8am. It was bright blue and cold as we made our way through the frozen mud and snow of the campground. We were on the PCT for all of 15 minutes before the jackets came off. It stayed cool and breezy all day.

We didn't get to the burn perimeter until about 6 miles into the day. The trees and snow patches were nice to hike through. the trail turns to ash about the time you reach the desert view (whoa! What a view!) through the canyon next to Fosters Point. We were lucky in that the snow patches broke up the monotony of the blackened mountainsides. The blue sky also helped keep us cheerful as we hiked through the destruction left by the fire. It's truly a despairing sight. But just as the smell starts to get annoying, the trail turns out of the burn perimeter, as it ducks in and out of the perimeter's edge. Also, the moist ground kept the ash dust down. We got through the worst of it at Pioneer Mail and climbed up and northeast on the old roadway. Seeing the burn area, the desert below and the ruins of the old concrete guardrail among the tumbled boulders reminded me of Frodo and Sam making their way into Mordor.

From then on, we were hiking through the `02 burn area, which, at least, has some grasses growing and the burned bushes are sun bleached white, instead of the moonscape of the Cedar burn. As we made our way toward Lucky 5, we saw mountain lion tracks in the snow! And later on, deer tracks on the trail. Hard to imaging much wildlife in that area.

Met up with Justin Cramer a few miles south of Lucky 5, after a spectacular error in landmark coordination: Justin agreed to meet up with us at Lucky 5 as we made our way north. I placed Lucky 5 about 3 or 4 miles south of it's actual location. We planned on making it to Luck 5 at noon, but we didn't get to Pioneer Mail until 11:30. But Justin (and his trail dog, Brittany) patiently waited for us and then began hiking north to meet us. So he was able to join us for about 6 or 7 miles, leaving us where he parked his truck at Lucky 5. Thanks for he company, Justin!

After that, a cold front moved in and a cold wind kicked up. Making the last 3 miles to where we parked one of our trucks was a cold and tired hike.


Stay tuned!

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