Mile 20 - 41 | Lake Morena to Mount Laguna
I woke to the sound of turkeys gobbling deceptively close by, it was so bizarre I had to laugh. In my shuffling around I discovered that my tent was soaking wet and dripping from the condensation. Damn, I remember reading not to camp near lakes for this very reason! I didn’t sleep well at all, there was also definitely quite a bit of howling going on in the night. We were camping in the Lake Morena camp ground and as it was the weekend it was full of day hikers and car campers so I guessed something must have set their dogs off. I later learned that it was coyotes that i’d heard.
I suddenly remembered that there were proper toilets here so rolled out of bed trying not to touch the sides of my tent (a very hard task), I made a complete hash of it but the sunrise was totally worth it!
We were determined to beat our pack up time from the day before but it was a bit of a mess with everything so wet. Do we wait here till the sun comes up and dries it? Do we pack it away and dry it at lunch? We went with the latter and ate our overnight oats on a picnic bench, I had better luck this time with my protein powder/coconut milk ratio and found my honey sachets!
The malt shop last night sold drinks and sweets from my childhood in Brunei! I knew couldn’t carry any more weight but snagged a yanyan for breakfast.
Finally we were up and out, using the bathrooms again one last time, day 3 and already a luxury!
The day got hot quickly and we were again reminded that we need to get out of camp quicker. I made the mistake of checking the elevation for the day and it was one continuous up! We at least had a laugh at how hard we thought the Houser creek climb was compared to what we had to do today!
We trundled along till lunch where we collapsed into some fluffy grass, the terrain seems to change constantly! We’d stopped a little while earlier under a bridge to filter some more water in the shade so we were able to eat straight away. We dragged our wet tents and quilts from our bags and strewed them across the grass to dry.
The daily filtering of water is a constant reminder of just how much water you need. There’s also a knack to doing it so that you don’t drop the lid of your bottle, the lid of the filter and the lid of the cnoc water pouch on the flood and lose them, i’m not quite there yet! I’m slowly learning that I should filter the night before and that instead of having two 2l pouches and 2 bottles, I should probably have 4 bottles so I can get away with one big filter session at a time.
With full tummies and dry tents and sleeping bags we headed back up along the trail. It was a lot of ridge walking but stunning non the less! We carried on to Boulder Oaks camp ground to make use of the facilities (bathrooms!) and noticed this was the first camp ground we’d seen with horse pens! The PCT can be ridden on horseback but we haven’t seen any yet!
While I was waiting a guy came over and asked if we were hikers. He informed us that he had cycled from Florida and was on his way to San Diego to start hiking the PCT! He was going to swap his bike for a bag and get on his way, absolute nutter! He’s going to fly by us on the trail for sure!
As we left the campground and crossed over a road that seemingly came out of nowhere, we heard a shout asking if we were PCT hikers. There were some day hikers who had brought apples and oranges out in hopes to give trail magic to hikers! They’d brought a book for us to sign and we thanked them profusely for our fruit. What a kind gesture!
I devoured the apple and tucked the orange away for later, goodness knows I needed it after the even bigger climb we did. One thing I never realised about the PCT was how high and how close to the edge the trail is. You have to have a head for heights!
The last mile or so were painfully slow. Then out of nowhere we started on descending into trees that also just appeared, we had made it to Fred’s canyon and our campsite! Conviniently a stream ran along the bottom of the dip and there were plenty of flat tent spots. When we got there a few tents were up and not long after our tents were up a slow stream of relived looking hikers rolled in. It was a lovely sociable dinner with other hikers, one of which got given the trail name Sew Sew because he’d made his own tent, backpack, windpants AND foodbag! The kid was only 18! Another young guy joined us and almost set his hand on fire with his new stove, we gave him the trail name Pyro.
We were determined to get up and out early so we decided breakfast should be eaten down the trail because that is by far the slowest part of the morning! We all rolled out of bed and packed quickly, even though it seemed like everyone else had left the site before us. I crammed a Kind bar (dark chocolate!) into my face and tried to quieten my grumbling tummy as we pushed onwards with the miles.
As you may have guessed, it was more uphill but at least this time we were ahead of the mid day sun. There were more switchbacks this section, this is where a trail zigzags back and forth up a mountainside instead of just going straight up and over. It adds miles but lessens the incline! Each switchback we either got a stunning view out of more blue looking mountains or shade, both met with equal amounts of awe and appreciation.
We laughed as we passed the warning sign as there was an obvious tent pitch just after in the clearing but also how short the section was.
As we approached lunch the terrain changed again and flattened out and we suddenly found ourselves passing trees and grass again. We picked a shaded spot and I tried the cold soaked (left in cold water) Spanish rice side I had prepared at breakfast. Turned out just fine! Pyro caught up with us at lunch and joined us for a game of Linki, a game which asks a series of four questions and you have to guess the link between the answers!
The final section of the day was amazing, we entered a forest! The smell of the trees was so refreshing and the shade was welcomed.
We reached Mount Laguna camp site so early we treated ourselves to showers and washed our clothes whilst we washed ourselves. The area had a reputation for being unfriendly to hikers but the camp grounds man happily changed our dollars to quarters for the shower - $1 for 4 mins. The bathrooms were heated and had wall outlets to change phones and they let us have up to 8 tents on one pitch for $26. We split it between the four of us, Pyro and a German guy called First One. He gained that name by being the first person in the permit queue!
We were having such a relaxing time when we suddenly realised we hadn’t checked the opening times! Our hearts were crushed when another German hiker let us know that the one small shop and cafe had just closed at 5pm. No Snapple or chips for us! Smoky Bear caught up to us and squeezed onto our pitch. We ate together as a big family on a picnic bench and tried our best to cheer ourselves up. We won’t make that mistake again!
I found out that the gas canister had rusted in my cookpot where I usually store it. This has never happened before! First one lent me his scrubbing brush but I couldn’t get all the rust off. I ended up eating my ramen hard like crisps, broke them up a bit and sprinkled the flavouring over with a good shake. I then ate my tuna straight from the pouch. It was fine if not a little disappointing.