Index and other PCT Hikes

Dan's May 2003 Pacific Crest Trail Journal

From the Pink Motel near Cabazon (PCT Mile 213.5)
to Cottonwood Creek (PCT Mile 539)

California Section C

Wildflowers Thursday, May 1, 2003
Hiking up Gold Canyon (which I had already done) we met two women from San Diego out looking at wildflowers. The flowers were very nice on north slopes, but a little dried up elsewhere. In Teutang Canyon, I saw a 30" rattlesnake. My twisted left ankle felt fine. I also had had some chafing of the back of my ankles, and applying medical tape to the ankles wasn't working. There was so much motion there that the tape just came back off. I had lined the backs of my shoes with duct tape a few days previously: the slickness allowed the ankles to slide without chafing, and this seemed to have cured the problem. Based on my weather observations, I predicted rain for May 3. The four of us camped in Mission Creek Canyon just up from where the creek turns from flowing south to flowing east. (Dan)
Camp: Mission Creek Canyon
Miles Walked: 20

Friday, May 2, 2003
Coon Creek Cabin All night long, I heard Lynn hacking and coughing, opening pill bottles, and the like. At the crack of dawn, she took off, and I didn't see her again for a few days. The ridge was as windy as the last time, but not as cold and with much better visibility. Consequently, the views of the Palm Desert communities, the San Gorgonios, and the San Jacintos were gorgeous. Kit, Di, and I stayed in the palatial cabin at Coon Creek Group Camp, and had a nice fire there. Overnight weather was clear and windy, with snowflakes occasionally landing on my face. Sometime in the night, a dollar bill blowing around the woods lodged under my sleeping bag. Score!! On the other hand, evidently one of my water bottles blew away. (Dan)
Camp: Coon Creek Group Camp Cabin
Miles Walked: 16

Saturday, May 3, 2003
On my way to the tiger and bear cages, I met Roadrunner, a former Appalachian Trail through hiker now doing a PCT section hike. From there, I hitched Highway 38 to Big Bear City. I walked 4 miles before getting a ride. During that time, though the sky overhead was clear and sunny, I could see plenty of cumulonimbus clouds to the west, and snowflakes were blowing in from that storm. Then I got two rides into town, the first from a chain smoking nurse in a jeep. The second ride was from Rick of Big Bear City, who took me straight to the Laundromat, and came in to hear a few more stories. While there, it began to alternately rain and snow, which continued the rest of the day and night. A lady using the Laundromat was so impressed with my stories of the trip, that she went out to her car, got $10, and gave it to me to buy a good lunch. And the Laundromat manager wanted to buy me a donut or something next door: people are so nice! Next I went to the Mexican restaurant across from the fire station. All of the tables were taken, but Tim, a Gas Company technician, let me sit at his table. As I started to tell my stories, who should reappear but the Laundromat manager, again offering to buy some desert for me! When I told Tim I would be re-supplying, staying at Motel 6, and getting back on the trail the next morning, he offered to let me stay at his place in exchange for a little handyman work. So in the end, I fixed the dishwasher, trimmed a door to clear the carpet, brought an electrical outlet up to flush with the wall, and moved a couple loads of furniture to a house he had just bought. In exchange, I slept out of the rain/snow, and got ribs for dinner, some food for the trial, $20 towards my groceries, and a ride back to the trail. What a great deal!! (Dan)
Slept: Tim's house
Miles Walked: 10

Sunday, May 4, 2003
I finished reading a book of essays by Thoreau. About 1 inch of snow had accumulated in the storm. I hiked from Van Dusen Canyon Road and camped a mile past Little Bear Spring. It was a cloudy, pleasant day for hiking. (Dan)
Camp: 1 mile past Little Bear Spring
Miles Walked: 11

Monday, May 5, 2003
Melted Sign I finished reading "The Hound of the Baskervilles". The day had perfect hiking weather, alternating between clouds and sun. There were good views of the San Gabriel Range. I saw a very beautiful lizard, with iridescent turquoise and lavender scales. There were lots of dog and deer prints above Deep Creek. A wildfire had melted lots of signs into groteque shapes, kind of like Dali paintings. I wondered why there were dozens of signs along this desolate stretch of trail anyway; what could they all have said? I camped right by Deep Creek about 3 miles past the first bridge over Deep Creek. (Dan)
Camp: Deep Creek
Miles Walked: 15

Tuesday, May 6, 2003
I finished reading "The Narrative Life of Frederic Douglass". An early morning sky covered with rain clouds gave way to sunny, blue sky, breezy weather by 9 am. Clouds and smog to the west sometimes completely obscured the view of the San Gabriels. In the early afternoon, as I reached the Mojave Dam, I noticed lenticular clouds forming over the San Gorgonio range, indicating extremely high winds aloft. Together with gusty, high winds on the trail later in the day, I knew that some kind of weather was coming, but I had no idea what or when it would be. Above Deep Creek, I saw two Striped Racer Snakes. I also saw a Great Blue Heron fishing there. The Deep Creek Hot Springs were a wonderful resting spot. When I was fording Deep Creek at the dam, I walked through some type of stinging plant, perhaps nettles. This raised little welts, perhaps 1/8" - 3/16" in diameter, all over my feet and legs. Curiously, these itched only where my skin was not tanned by the sun. Later, in my sleeping bag, all the skin on my legs had a peculiar crawling sensation. Luckily, all of the itching was gone by morning. Near camp, I saw a horned lizard. Though I was 25 miles by trail from the train tracks, I could hear the diesel locomotives chugging and blowing their horns on the way up to Cajon Pass. In the evening, cumulonimbus clouds appeared from the east. (Dan)
Camp: a few miles after Grass Creek
Miles Walked: 20

Wednesday, May 7, 2003
I bribed myself; if I walked the 25 miles, I would sleep in a hotel at Cajon Pass this evening. It drizzled through the previous night and all day. I saw 2 quail. I met Lynn hiking with Ryan and Drennan just past Silverwood Lake, and hiked with that group for about an hour. Judging by all the rain puddles and mud the next morning, the hotel was the right place to stay. (Dan)
Hotel: Cajon Junction/I15
Miles Walked: 25

Wednesday, May 7, 2003 - 10:45 AM
Dan called and said he was at Silverwood Lake and planned to be crossing I-15 that evening. Silverwood Lake is above Cajon Pass and west-southwest of Lake Arrowhead. The next day, he would be passing through Wrightwood, which is 371.9 PCT miles north of the Mexican border. (Gene)

California Section D

Thursday, May 8, 2003
Rime Ice After eating 2 sausage McMuffins, hash browns, and orange juice at the Cajon McDonald's, I headed out into drizzly, foggy, windy weather. The weeds overgrowing the first half dozen miles of trail were soaked, so that every step resulted in cold water drenching my pants and running into my shoes. This part of the trail runs up a bunch of ridgelines, so I was fully exposed to the gusty cold misty winds. And, with the fog, I really couldn't see anything. Luckily, after the first dirt road crossing, all this cleared up for nice hiking weather. I saw 6 quail, and met a guy doing trail maintenance. There were lots of bear turds on the big ascent. By 3 pm, cloud cover was down to 20%, 100% at dusk, clear again by 11pm. There were bitter, bitter cold winds all night. (Dan)
Camp: South of the trail on Blue Ridge.
Miles Walked: 20

Friday, May 9, 2003
This was a beautiful, sunny day with 10 miles of visibility, the cold wind continued. You begin to understand what cold cereal means when the water you pour over it is mostly ice slush. In the high country, north of Guffy Camp, several inches of rime ice had formed in the trees. I finished reading the "Red Badge of Courage". Near the first snowmaking pond, I met Tom, a Dominican Brother, hiking in to climb Pine Peak and possibly Mount Baldy. Throughout our conversation, I kept thinking how much snow was up there, and decided to loan him my ice axe. From the first crossing of Highway 2, I hitched into Wrightwood, and stayed in the SkyLodge. Late that night, I finished reading "Treasure Island". (Dan)
Hotel: Wrightwood SkyLodge
Miles Walked: 7

Friday, May 9, 2003 - The Adventures of Tom and my Ice Axe
I made it up Pine Mountain with the help of your axe. The last mile and a half of the "North Backbone Trail" was covered with snow and ice, so it was strictly ice axe and crampon country - light mountaineering duty. I never would have made it without your axe - so thank you! Get this, I even went over and did Baldy! It was a physically exhausting trip, but I just couldn't pass up that weather. (Tom)

Saturday, May 10, 2003
I went out to breakfast, and found Soupbean there. It was great talking with him for a while. Going up Mount Baden-Powell, many of the switchbacks were snow covered, and the top 1200 feet were strictly kickstepping straight up. The views were awesome from the top. Since the trail was still snow covered, I just walked the ridgeline west from there, and went right over the top of Mount Burnham. Then, at 6:11pm, on the north face of Peak 8426, disaster struck. On a rare patch of snow free trail, I felt my right ankle twisting. I immediately threw all my weight onto my left leg. Unfortunately, the footing there was no better, and my left ankle twisted even worse. As I fell on my butt, I could hear my left knee popping quite loudly. As I checked myself out, I understood that my knee was ok, and that my right ankle was not as badly twisted as the left. I walked down to Little Jimmy Trail Camp without much trouble or pain. While there, I met Justin, a section hiker, and we saw a coyote, walking the perimeter of the camp, and checking us out. There were bear, bobcat, and coyote tracks all over our camp there. This was the first time I ran my food up a tree this trip. (Dan)
Camp: Little Jimmy Trail Camp
Miles Walked: 13

Sunday, May 11, 2003
As I limped down the trail to Islip Saddle, I understood it would take several days for my left ankle to be serviceable again. I decided to evacuate either back home (San Diego) or to Agua Dulce, where I could stay with trail angels Donna and Jeff Saufley. Mike and Bill, two guys who had just completed a training hike for an upcoming Mount Whitney attempt, gave me a ride down Highway 2 to the Angeles Forest Highway, where a couple from Beijing took me to Highway 14. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember much of my Chinese I had learned in my recent business trip to China. A couple more hitches got me down 14 and up to Agua Dulce, where I planned to stay a few days and then decide my fate. Fortunately, I found a couple of ace bandages in the hiker boxes there. I finished reading a book on weather and a book on the Gabrielino Indians. Also staying at the Saufley's were Gail and Alister, a couple from Calgary, Canada. (Dan)
Camp: Saufley's
Miles Walked: 10

Monday, May 12, 2003
My left ankle was still swollen, the right, though tender, seemed to be healing up ok. The weather was sunny with lots of cirrostratus clouds and contrails. I finished reading "Being There". This is an extremely funny book, as is the movie of the same name: I highly recommend them. Lynn showed up, and then Ryan and Drennen. (Dan)
Camp: Saufley's
Miles Walked: 0

Tuesday, May 13, 2003
My left ankle was still swollen. It had a black & blue spot about 2" X .75" on the outside, just below the ankle bone. But it was much better walking around the house. The right, though tender, and a little swollen, caused me no pain just walking around the Saufley's. Oddly, it was much more black & blue, with spots on the outside, above and below the anklebone, and inside, below the ankle bone extending to the back of the ankle. My left knee hadn't given any indication of problems since popping at the accident. The weather was cloudy. There was a crow living in the Saufley's tree, just above the hammock, who I observed whenever I put down whatever book I was reading. I met two hikers from Japan, Masa & Tomo. (Dan)
Camp: Saufley's
Miles Walked: 0

Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Neither of my ankles was swollen; both seemed to be healing well. I met Northern Lights and Snowman. I went out for sushi with Jeff, Donna, Masa, Tomo, and Snowman. Justin hiked in. I drove Lynn, Ryan, and Drennan back to the trail. (Dan)
Weather: Clouds and a little light rain. I predicted clouds but no rain for the next several days.
Camp: Saufley's
Miles Walked: 0

Thursday, May 15, 2003
My ankles continued to heal, I was able to walk with a normal gait, without pain, as long as I was on a flat surface. On both ankles, the only tenderness on palpation was near the level of the anklebone, halfway from the anklebone to the front tendons, in a strip about an inch wide and 3 high. The weather was beautiful and sunny. We went to pick up Fred at Palmdale. After an MRI, the doctor concluded he had severely strained ligaments in his right knee, but no tears. Fred was mighty impressed with his prescription. We watched the nearly complete lunar eclipse. (Dan)
Camp: Saufley's
Miles Walked: 0

Friday, May 16, 2003
Saufleys I took a one mile test walk, with no pack and taped ankles. My right ankle didn't hurt, the left just a little. I planned to leave the Saufley's in a few days. We took Snowman to a sports doctor, promising to pick him up around 10:30. On showing up, I visited the doctor's receptionist, who said that he'd been finished for an hour, and had gone to the MRI center downstairs. After visiting there, and searching the building, we sat out in the parking lot, with someone searching the building every 10 or 15 minutes. After an hour, I went back to the doctor's and MRI receptionists, and called the Saufley's, no sign of Snowman. We gave up and took off. On pulling into the street, we heard a whistle. We found Snowman sitting under a tree, perched atop a massive pile of empty beer cans. Fortunately, he did not have a torn ACL, as the doctor in Big Bear had said, and would have ended his hike.Rather,it was just bursitis, which just requires a few days of R&R. (Dan)
Weather: The day was beautiful and hot.
Camp: Saufley's
Miles Walked: 1

Saturday, May 17, 2003
It was a little overcast in the morning, with great weather the rest of the day. My ankles felt good, and I did a couple of mile test walk with pack. Things felt pretty good, although my gait was still a little limpy. My plan had been to rest one day past when I felt good enough, so I planned to leave on Monday, and return to Islip Saddle, where I had left off. That meant I should have hiked back into Agua Dulce by the next weekend. I would like to thank the Saufleys for their wonderful hospitality. Through the entire week, they were friendly and concerned. I can't say enough. I definitely recommend a stop there to every long distance hiker coming through Agua Dulce. By evening, I noticed that I was fatigued for no obvious reason. (Dan)
Camp: Saufley's
Miles Walked: 2

Sunday, May 18, 2003
The weather was beautiful. My ankles were considerably better, tender areas were shrinking, and the last painful task, walking downstairs, had resolved. I went to the store and provisioned to hike out as soon as possible. However, that morning, I developed diarrhea, and hydrogen sulfide burps. I didn't know it yet, but I had contracted giardiasis. I didn't have my hiker medicine books there, so I couldn't look it up. I decided to wait for this to resolve before I took off. I hoped that wouldn't be too long, I was impatient to hike again. (Dan)
Camp: Saufley's
Miles Walked: 0

Monday, May 19, 2003
The sulphurous burps resolved, diarrhea continued. (Dan)
Camp: Saufley's
Miles Walked: 0

Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Diarrhea continued, though bathroom trips reduced from every half hour to every 45 minutes to an hour. I decided to visit a doctor the next day. (Dan)
Camp: Saufley's
Miles Walked: 0

Wednesday, May 21, 2003
The weather today was sunny, clear, and hot. Though my problem seem to be clearing, I saw Vickie, a PAC, that morning. Based on history, exam, and a blood scan, she diagnosed probable giardiasis, but also said that whatever else it might be would respond to Flagyl. So I got that prescription and hoped to continue soon. Here's another link to a hiker here who was at the Saufley's: Mother Nature's Son. I'm sorry I wasn't able to keep up the references to every single hiker I met there, there were just too many. I gave myself another buzz haircut. (Dan)
Camp: Saufley's
Miles Walked: 0

Thursday, May 22, 2003
The weather was still hot and clear. My giardiasis cleared. I experimented with a big restaurant breakfast (waffle, eggs, toast, sausage, hash browns, OJ), and I was doing fine. At 3:30 pm, Snowman dropped me off at the Islip Saddle Trailhead. I summited Mt Williamson, walking the entire ridgeline. With 7-10 miles of visibility, I could not see much out beyond the mountain range. I got my first blister of the trip, on the tip/inside of my right big toe. I also had a headache, and dark urine, usually indicative of dehydration, but I was certainly not dehydrated. I checked the side effects of the Flagyl, and found these were listed there. I was also pretty cranky. I camped in Rattlesnake Canyon, just shy of the end of the dirt road. With tons of mosquitoes there, I didn't get too much sleep. On the bright side, I saw lots of satellites and shooting stars. (Dan)
Camp: Rattlesnake Canyon
Miles Walked: 6

Friday, May 23, 2003
The morning hiking was tough, over miles of the trail with poor footing: I was still pretty protective of my ankles. The last 5 miles of trail in the afternoon had flat sandy trailbed, and I made 3 miles / hour. I saw lots of lizards, one with a cool turquoise tail. One stretch of trail under the outside of a Highway 2 curve had tons of auto wreckage from accidents strewn about: I decided not to rest there. There were lots of varieties of purple wildflowers. Someone less than a day ahead of me was wearing New Balance 806's, the same type of shoes as mine. Approaching 3 Points, I saw a single strand of copper wire strung through the trees, and wondered if it was part of an abandoned ground loop rf telephone, which were used in some forests in the WWII era. I camped a half mile past Little Rock Creek Road. I found a fresh bear turd in the camp and bearbagged. Headache, crankiness, and dark urine continued. (Dan)
Weather: 6am 50% overcast, noon clear, evening 10% overcast.
Camp: 1 half mile past Little Rock Creek Road
Miles Walked: 15

Saturday, May 24, 2003
I finished reading "The Portable Thoreau". My headache was somewhat decreased. There was good footing and I made good hiking speed today. I saw lots of flowers of all colors. I camped in the flat area below the Mount Gleason camp mentioned in the guidebook. (Dan)
Weather: 6am 100% overcast, noon and evening clear. Hot, humid, sweaty by 8 am.
Camp: Near Mount Gleason Camp
Miles Walked: 18

Sunday, May 25, 2003
I summited Mt Gleason at 9am. Fog filled the valleys below. I met 2 hikers wearing 806's, which resolved my curiosity of the last couple of days. There were lots of wildflowers and a horned lizard. I met Mike and Manuella who lived in the RV park at Soledad Canyon Road; they gave me water, juice, dinner, and a place to camp. Mike told me many stories of his time in the army, and of his work in the RV park as the security guy. Later, he scared the hell out of F-Troop, but you'll have to ask them for those stories. (Dan)
Camp: RV park at Soledad Canyon Road
Miles Walked: 20

Monday, May 26, 2003
I hiked to the Saufley's and saw bobcat, mouse, and bird tracks. I really enjoyed Vasquez Rocks. (Dan)
Camp: Saufley's
Miles Walked: 12

California Section E

Tuesday, May 27, 2003
The weather was incredibly hot: I waited till 4:55 PM before I was willing to walk out of the Saufley's. I saw lots of lavendar wildflowers, and a horned lizard. I also saw the fuselage of a narrowbody jetliner all set up with airstairs at one of the ranches below, and wondered what it was doing there. I saw several ticks. I camped after dark on Pelona Ridge, near Newsman's camp. (Dan)
Camp: Pelona Ridge
Miles Walked: 5

Wednesday, May 28, 2003
There were more ticks, and it was a nice day for flowers. At the Anderson's Oasis, near Spunky Canyon Road, 6N09, I noticed it was 88°F in the shade at 10 am. As I was leaving the Oasis, I heard a car pull up and the doors slamming. I had lucked out, meeting Terri Anderson and Turtle as they were stocking the Oasis. I hung out with them for a while, then they took my pack and I slackpacked into Green Valley. You'd think the 6 1/2 miles without a pack would be awesome, but I guess I was so used to the pack that hiking without it actually made my lower back feel stiff. I camped at the Anderson's, another wonderful host family. (Dan)
Camp: Anderson's
Miles Walked: 18

Thursday, May 29, 2003
I left the Andersons at 5 am, after getting the dog barking and waking everybody up. Sorry. The weather was hot and clear. I saw a dead 12 inch rattlesnake on the trail. North of Elizabeth Lake Road, I saw 3 abandoned graphite mine tunnels, and explored them a bit. I finished a book of short stories and a book about J. Paul Getty while I waited out the afternoon heat (noon - 4:30) at the Fish Creek Trail Camp. The inseam of the Lycra shorts I wore to control chafing between my thighs ripped out from severe wear, and within an hour I could feel a rash developing. I sat down and sewed them up with dental floss. My ankles had stopped slightly swelling while hiking: recovery was progressing well. I saw nice oak and pine forests today. In the evening, I saw a bobcat and camped soon after, about 1 mile short of Sawmill Camp. (Dan)
Camp: 1 mile short of Sawmill Camp
Miles Walked: 18

Friday, May 30, 2003
During the clear, hot morning, I noticed that someone had been walking the trail barefoot. I finished reading "A Nation of Immigrants" by JFK. I camped in the bunkhouse at the Scagg's residence, the old Jack Fair house. While trying to resupply at the store near there, I found that they didn't stock too much stuff, and ended up with a large sack of Doritos and a large package of lemon cream cookies as my main food supply - not exactly what I would prefer. (Dan)
Camp: Scagg's residence
Miles Walked: 16

Saturday, May 31, 2003
This was a day of snakes and dirt roads. Nearly the whole day was spent walking the dirt roads of the California Aqueduct and the Los Angeles Aqueduct, as well as other roads. I saw dozens and dozens of snake tracks crossing these roads. I saw one snake along the California Aqueduct, then another near marker 1848 on the LA Aqueduct. With a blazing hot day, and no big trees or shade for miles around, at 11:20 I stopped at an old slab with steel fence posts, perhaps an abandoned pump station, and set up a tarp to get out of the sun for the afternoon. Unfortunately, though my tarp made a nice shade, it did not block the UV, and I got a sunburn. Live and learn. There I met Dave and Jerry, 2001 thru hikers, out driving the aqueduct roads and passing out ice cold Gatorade and sodas to parched hikers. Thanks and that was Awesome!! Jerry is also the first guy, who when I tried to give him my web address, said that he'd already read the site! Thanks, it was good to know that someone was reading all this stuff I wrote. I finished reading "The Proving Ground" by G. Bruce Knecht. Later in the afternoon, I met Dave and Jerry again, then driving Snowman out of the desert. Evidently he'd been feeling bad and then passed out in the heat. Luckily, this section was on roads with lots of ATV riders. Snowman was found by them and taken care of right away. There in Dave and Jerry's car, he talked about getting off the trail for good. I saw several pairs of quail and one running around alone. I camped amid the Joshua trees north of Cottonwood Creek. (Dan)
Camp: north of Cottonwood Creek
Miles Walked: 17

Next: June 2003

Index and other PCT Hikes

Seiad Valley Etna Castella Burney Falls State Park Old Station Belden Sierra City Truckee Reno Elko South Lake Tahoe Echo Lake Tuolumne Meadows Reds Meadow Devils Postpile Mammoth Lakes Bishop Independence Lone Pine Fresno Kennedy Meadows Inyokern Ridgecrest Las Vegas Bakersfield Tehachapi Mojave Agua Dulce Wrightwood Cajon Junction, Interstate 15 Big Bear Palm Springs Idylwild Anza Warner Springs Julian Mount Laguna Lake Morena Campo San Diego Los  Angeles San Jose San Francisco Stockton Sacramento Redding Escondido Salton Sea Mono Lake Lake Tahoe Pacific Crest Trail Tahoe Rim Trail, 2012 John Muir Trail Sierra High Route and Kern River, 2012 Sierra High Route and Kern River, 2012 Sierra High Route and Kern River, 2012 Eureka Interstate 5 Interstate 15 Interstate 40 Interstate 80 Interstate 10 Interstate 8 Colorado River Mexico Arizona Channel Islands California Nevada Pacific Ocean