Cottonwood Creek to Long Canyon Creek Mile 37.8
PCT Miles hiked today : 12.3
Feet Ascended Today: 3013
Feet Descended Today: 640
Current Elevation: 5445
I slept fitfully last night. I’m not used to sleeping with a group and woke up every time someone rustled as I’m a light sleeper. I could hear some other hikers getting up shortly after 5:00 am and so decided I might as well get up too as I wasn’t going back to sleep. It was still dark out with the first glimmers of light glowing at the edges of the sky.I put my feet outside my tent only to discover that my shoes were completely frozen! My socks and shirt were also frozen and rigid where I had draped them on a lavender bush. But at least they smelled nice as I had hung them on a lavender bush. I packed up quickly and stuffed my frozen tent in my bag, and was on the trail by 6:30 am. I hiked another half mile to Boulder Oaks campground, and paused there to eat breakfast at a picnic table. Yay bathrooms! The toilets were pit toilets but that was fine by me! At the campground, the Australian brothers Alex and Jack caught up with me and we hiked together for a bit before they hiked on ahead. I hiked into the sunrise as it rose beyond the hill. I was feeling tired today, most likely due to my lack of sleep the previous night. My feet were dragging and it was a struggle to make miles, but I pushed on. I spent the entire day ascending up Mt. Laguna, gaining 2500 feet in elevation. Today I started listening to the first audiobook which I checked out from the library and helped get me into a rhythm. At 9:30 am I followed a spur trail which steeply descended down to Kitchen Creek, and spent an hour relaxing and drying out my tent. It was an idyllic spot with water cascading down between rocks and forming a deep pool. It’s a popular swimming hole for hikers.
I applied sunscreen and put my snow gaiters on my legs in an attempt to protect the back of my calves which were pretty burned. It felt a little funny but I figured it was worth a shot. I took a break around noon at Fred Canyon, a lovely shaded spot with a creek running through it. I had caught up with Jack, Alex and Stephan and we chatted while we ate our lunches. I tried to take a nap but was unsuccessful in falling asleep, and so pressed ahead.Feeling slightly more energetic after lunch, I continued the climb up towards Mt. Laguna. I was listening to an audiobook with an earbud in one ear when I was startled by a loud rattling sound just to the right of the trail. Rattlesnake! I jumped back a bit and wondered what to do. I couldn’t see the snake as it was hidden by the bushes but it was loud and close to the trail. Eventually I quickly ran past without incident. Another hiker who was closely following behind me got a picture but I was a little freaked out and opted against a photo op. I was considering trying to hike into Mt. Laguna today, but I could feel some blisters forming on my feet and pooped out about mile 37.8. I found a nice stream in a canyon to set up camp and had the area all to myself for the evening. I had a lovely dinner of broccoli & beef with quinoa rice and teriyaki sauce.
I now have 5 blisters – one on the side of my right big toe, on the pinky and 4th toes of my right foot, on the heel of my left foot and on the pad of my left foot near the toes. None look too scary yet, but a couple look like they could develop into nasty ones if I’m not careful. I spent a hour cleaning my feet and carefully bandaging the blisters.
I’m looking forward to visiting Mt. Laguna tomorrow for my first resupply box and visiting the famed Mt. Laguna Outfitters store.