Day 6 – Julian
Mile 60.5 to Scissors Crossing Mile 77
PCT Miles hiked today : 16.8
Feet Ascended Today: 1446.5
Feet Descended Today: 4116
Current Elevation: 4244
Today is my first 16+ mile day! I woke up early with wind gusts battering my tent, and my first thought was that I wanted to get to Julian tonight. Last night’s wind storm was a bummer and the thought of sleeping in a real bed was just too tempting! I was motivated and on the trail by 6:30 am.
The sunrise this morning was lovely, and some of the misery from last night faded away as I hiked. I saw other tents hugging the hillside and initially concluded that my fears of the windstorm were overblown (get it? sorry couldn’t help the pun… ). When another hiker told me a short while later that the wind destroyed his tent, I realized my fears were justified.
After 3 miles the trail dropped in elevation and I paused to cook dinner since I was finally out of the wind. I wanted something more substantial than oatmeal so I heated up beans and rice. I was making good time today and hiked on (through ANOTHER swarm of bees – this is my third) to the water cistern at the intersection of Rodriguez Road.
By this time it was close to noon, and several folks were gathered in the shade eating lunch. The Rodriguez cistern is a “watering hole” in the truest sense, as hikers come and go to filter water and chat with each other. The next reported water source is a cache 9 miles away at Scissors Crossing, which is also the junction leading to Julian for those who decide to go into town. I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to Julian tonight and so decided to carry 4 liters in case I ended up dry camping.
After lunch the trail followed the hills overlooking a valley below. The trail wound in and out and around the curvature of the mountains – I could actually see the end destination the whole time but the windy trail took 9 miles to get there. The afternoon was lovely and the miles seemed to fly by as I walked.
The blisters on my feet throbbed each time I stopped, but were thankfully not as painful once I got hiking – possibly due to the Ibuprofen I finally broke down and took this afternoon. I took breaks every couple of hours to switch my socks for dry ones and check my feet. Today the blisters on my 4th and pinky toes were much less painful, but the one on the foot pad of my left foot was very sore. My First Aid supplies were running low, so I cut the top off of a light menstrual pad and stuck it to the bottom of my foot. And it worked! That pad added extra cushioning and really helped alleviate the pain as I walked.
The entire afternoon I leapfrogged Gordon and we kept passing eachother on the trail. Around mile 74, the trail descended to the a sandy valley floor below and we ended up walking the last 3 miles to Scissors Crossing together. The trail was flat and easy to follow, and we made good time.
We reached Scissors Crossing around 5:00 or 5:30 pm. The town of Julian is located 12 miles away up into the foothills, and the only really feasible way into town is to hitchhike. I checked to see if Uber or Lyft operated in this area (they don’t) or if any local taxi companies operated (not that I could see) or if the local bus ran (only on Thursdays and Fridays). The hitch into Julian is reported to be an easy one as the locals are used to seeing PCT hikers hitching into town and we bring a lot of business to Julian.
Gordon and I decided that I should be the one to stick out my thumb, since women are perceived to be less threatening than men. Although, honestly, Gordon is possibly one of the least threatening men hiking the trail – he’s British and has several grandchildren (with one more on the way he announced proudly yesterday). So I stuck out my thumb and pasted my most non-threatening smile on my face and we waited. And waited and waited. It seemed like forever but we really only had to wait about half an hour for a ride. Considering the lack of traffic going by at that time of day it was a reasonable amount of time.
While we waited, I phoned the two hotels in Julian to reserve us each a room for the night. The Julian Lodge was completely full. After several tries I got through to the only other hotel in town, the Julian Gold Rush Hotel. They had one room left, a pricey little cottage that sounded like some sort of lovers lair. However it slept 2 people so we quickly agreed to split the cost and share the room, as neither of us was keen to sleep outside again tonight.
We were happy to see Janis arrive with a couple of other hikers as we waited for a hitch. Apparently she’d been hiking just behind us all day. Janis, who is also from the Seattle area, never fails to make me laugh. She is a hoot 🙂
Soon a sedan pulled up and offered to drive 3 of us to Julian. Gordon, Janis and I all put our packs in the trunk of the car and crammed into the back seat. The driver was an elementary school teacher and her son was riding in the passenger seat. They knew all about the PCT as he has been dreaming of hiking the PCT for years. They had lots of questions for us and we had a pleasant and animated conversation all the way into town. They were the nicest people and I couldn’t imagine a better first hitchhiking experience.
The Julian Gold Rush Lodge turned out to be an elegantly appointed hotel with vintage furnishings. As the proprietress showed us to our room, Gordon and I were slightly dismayed to find that it, indeed, was a tiny love nest with only one bed and no couch. Gordon, being the gentleman that he is, offered to sleep on the floor even though he paid for half of the room. It was a little awkward but we were both so thankful to be sleeping inside.
We quickly showered and went in search of food. Romano’s Restaurant, a nice Italian joint, turned out to be the only place still open at 8:00 pm so we met Janis for dinner there. The place was packed with hikers coming into town late and the staff bustled around trying to get us all fed.
It was SO NICE to eat a real meal with cloth napkins and silverware. And to sleep in a REAL BED (sorry Gordon!).