06 December 2013

First Hike on PCT


October 2013


A true multi-day hiking on Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) has been on to-do list a while (not thru hiking yet!). Realizing it'll still take some time before materializing the plan, wanted to get the real touch already now on what the trail looks like etc.


The whole PCT trail starts near from Mexico border and continues northbound some 4000km (or vice versa). One can do an hour, a day, two day, a weekend, a week etc hikes on it.  Permits are required on some parts. Doing over 500 miles continuous hiking requires a long distance permit (which is free).

Had earlier hiked few miles on PCT at San Jacinto Wilderness, but never more south.  The trail was accessible only by less than hour's drive from my home so why not to do a day hike or so.  Decided to hike near Mount Laguna, where the trail still went through pine forest before it landed on to Anza-Borrego desert. Also, it's altitude was about 1700m or above which gave a better feeling than similar on sea level.

Went to Penny Pines on Mount Laguna, where the PCT almost touched Sunset Highway. Here, the land had been burnt some time ago. Landscape looked naked, pale.

Weather forecast had hinted cold but sunny weather. Thus was carrying a fair amount of clothes; merino long sleeve shirts, a fleece, a jacket, couple of buffs etc.  Had earlier bought new shoes for hiking, Inov-8 255's (they were awesome, but see epilogue ...).  A thermo bottle of french roast coffee, with some Finnish rye bread sandwiches, coke and stuff.

Decided to do a back and forth hike, getting even better feeling to the trail as seen from both directions. Near Penny Pines, there's an official(?) check point of the PCT, called "NobleCynTr" (i.e. Noble Canyon trail junction). These "official" check points were marked in PCT maps. From the very same place started one of the best mountain bike trail, Noble Canyon Trail (mtb not allowed on PCT).

From the starting point headed southbound. There's a descent towards east where the desert laid a kilometer lower of the trail.



The PCT trail went on the edge, safely though. The land was burnt all over, leaving an odd feeling.



The trail went first down before it started to climb towards tops of nearest mountains. Bypassed Sierra Club's Lodge.  Weather became warmer and warmer, it was about time to continue with a thin merino t-shirt.

The trail was like a single track trail, good for hiking, a bit dusty though. No major erosion on sight. Passed the next check point, "FosterPtTr".

Soon burnt area ended and one entered into a mountain slope with full of Manzanita bushes, those ones with a dark red body.


Higher the trail went one started to see better towards west, too. There was Laguna Mountain Recreation Area, where Fall foliage was showing of its best.


Once Manzanita bushes ended one entered the next zone, a mixed pine and oak tree forest. It did look really nice in there. Huge cones here and there.



Continuing further the trail went quite flat in the forest. There was a connection point to Recreation Area, A Big Laguna Trail joined the PCT, and it was the PCT check point, too, called "BigLagunaTr".

Fall foliage looked really nice here.




After 10km of hiking arrived at a Desert View camping site. It did provide a stunning view to the desert, too. Time to enjoy coffee and sandwiches and then headed back.

The trail did look a bit different when returning. Maybe there was just so much to see that one never got bored.  A few colorful flowers were still on bloom, Woodpeckers did their work here and there, hawks hunted near by. There was a significant amount of butterflies working, too.






Wind had secretly raised while hiking in a shadow in the forest.  It felt a lot stronger while reaching bushy mountains and especially on a burnt land mountains. Saw only few fellow hikers.



Didn't feel to exhausted when arriving back to the starting point, some 20km altogether. Was really worth of having a sneak peak on PCT.


Epilogue

Inov-8 Trailoc 255 shoes were really great, except I had done one major mistake when buying them, they were size too small.  On a flat section one didn't notice anything , though bit though. But when descending mountains, toes backed in front too much hurting a bit, a bit more and so on.

There's one great thing within the outdoor stores in the US, i.e. one can return equipment and get refund.  I just wanted to exchange them to one size bigger. Unfortunately the shop didn't have any size anymore, neither couldn't order them. Felt disappointed, but only few seconds until spotted Salomon Fellraiser shoes on shelf.  Got full refund on Inov-8's and bought Fellrailser shoes. They were slightly thicker but thin enough and really good on hikes (have now used them few times). Happy end.


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