May 7, 2018
Scissors Crossing (77.14) to Bushcamp (84.71)
7.57 trail miles
While hanging out with Nico he told us that eventually we’ll learn that we don’t have to keep a normal schedule out here. We should hike when the weather is best, which usually means early morning and evening. You don’t want to be out there in the middle of the day. He was right.
It was hard to leave the bed in the morning. We woke up early but stayed as long as we could. It looked like it was going to be hot outside, and the room had both AC and a ceiling fan. I didn’t want to leave.
My ankle still hurt just a tiny bit, and the blister on my heel looked pretty much the same. All the others looked to be turning into calluses or had disappeared during the time off. It was a relief to see that the rest had at least done some good.
We took our time packing up. I mean we took all the time we could, pushing it a little past checkout. The inn we were at was under renovation and workers had accidentally busted in our room four times already so we figured they clearly had no idea which rooms were supposed to be occupied or not. Waiting 15 minutes extra to check out wasn’t going to make a difference, and it didn’t.
We then walked across the street so we’d be on the right side to get a pick up. We didn’t have to wait more than 10 minutes before a woman pulled up in her pickup. She said she was only going to the city center of Julian, but we knew we would have an easy time getting to Scissors Crossing from there so we jumped in.
She was kinda cooky, and I briefly wondered if maybe she wasn’t the safest person to get a ride from. She flew through the roads with all the windows down and I hung on for dear life. She said she was heading to Julian for donuts that were only made on Mondays, and asked us weird questions about if there was any marijuana on the trail. I know there are those who do bring it, but I couldn’t tell if she was trying to find some or what. I was glad when the short 3 miles were over.
Once back on the main street of Julian we saw some other hikers who told us the best place to get picked up would be in front of the library, so that’s where we headed. When we arrived there was already an older man waiting for a pick up so we sat down a little ways away. I wasn’t sure if there was any hitchhiking etiquette. Like, do we need to wait for him to get picked up first since he was already there? Should we have gone further down the road?
Fortunately, someone with only enough room for one came by so he got picked up first anyways. Right after a car pulled up for us and it was time to go.
The owner of the vehicle was a man called “Professor”. He had done most of the PCT a few years ago and was hoping to do the whole thing next year after his retirement fund kicked in. He was also the man who took care of the Scissors Crossing water cache, so it was nice to meet him and get to thank him for helping so many hikers. He was on his way there to drop off more water when he picked us up, so when we got there we helped him unload the water from the car and load up more empty bottles.
When we arrived under the overpass there were already plenty of people laying out to wait out the sun. It was a little past noon by this point, so we decided we would join them. The desert outside looked unfriendly and unbearable. Sleeping some more sounded like a much better idea.
We didn’t actually sleep though. We had phone service still, so the internet quickly drew us in.
While waiting a girl started playing the ukelele, and it became an even more pleasant place to rest.
Tourguide also walked up and it was nice to meet her and tell her how we’d met her husband Wifetracker. She said she was actually waiting for him to come pick her up, and soon after he came driving up. He also brought a cooler full of coca cola and beer, and it was soon a party. They didn’t stay too long though, and we all settled down and went back to our resting places.
Professor came back a couple times to bring more water, as well as another gentleman who was just driving back and forth giving people rides. They both confirmed again what everyone else has been saying, that we need to go slow these first couple weeks. The miles will come. Make it to Warner Springs and we’ll be fine. Hike at night and take lots of breaks. It’s always reassuring to hear these words and know that we’re doing ok.
At 4 everyone started to get ready to head out. We ended up leaving around 4:15 and it still felt too hot. Our first stretch would be four miles straight uphill, and I was not looking forward to it. At Mom’s pie place our friends had told us they prefer the uphills, and I just don’t understand why. It must be a joint and blister thing.
We got going and the first couple miles were brutal. It was so hot and there was no shade. The uphill was also pretty steep. Eventually though the incline got more gradual and it didn’t feel so bad.
Just three miles in I felt a new hot spot and was determined to take care of it before it turned into a blister. When I took my sock off I was practically livid to see that it was already a full blown blister. I didn’t understand how it had been fine for the first 80 miles and now three miles after a day and a half rest it had just magically turned into a blister. It was the last straw for me. I said screw it, put on some moleskin with no gauze, downed a couple ibuprofen, and said let’s go. I was done letting these stupid little blisters ruin my miles. I could tough it out like everyone else.
Maybe it was my new attitude, or maybe it was the ibuprofen, but soon I felt great. The air was finally starting to cool down too and we started flying. The uphill finally felt manageable and didn’t wind me at all.
I loved looking around at all the different cacti. I remembered taking a picture with one a few days ago because it was so cool, but now they were everywhere. For some reason I just never imagined cacti being in California. I knew that if I had thought about it I would have said yes of course there would be, but I guess I just never thought about it. Deserts with cacti made me think of the Middle East or maybe the Sahara, not two hours away from home.
They were varied and quite fascinating. There were light colored ones that looked like lots of skinny fingers covered in needles growing up from the ground. There were ones that looked like flat green disks connected together a few at a time and stayed low to the ground. There were a few that were tall and brown and thick. They looked like what a child would draw but without either of the arms. There were some that looked like they might be aloe plants, and Doctor Seuss looking ones that were like small spikey bushes with a large stalk covered in flowers reaching up tall above us. Those last ones we’d seen before, and they are so weird.
We were hoping to do some night hiking this night, so even as the sun went down we kept on moving. The hills were cast in stark relief to the sky as the sun dipped below them. The sky was a pretty shade of pink and light blue, but I tried not to look up too much because it made the ground seem that much darker.
We went as long as we could without using our headlamps. The dusky light lasted much longer than we thought it would. The North Star was visible almost as soon as the sun went down, and we had fun determining our direction in the hills based off of it. We were heading slightly northeast for the most part, but would turn directly north once in a while.
Before long one side of the hill was darker than the other, and we’d hurry around the bends to try to get to the lighter side. We were on steep cliffs again, and Stanley was already getting nervous about traveling them in the dark, so we were trying to get as many miles in as possible before we might be forced to stop.
Around 8:30 we finally put our headlamps on, but we went only another half mile before Stanley called us to stop. He had already slipped twice and it just wasn’t worth continuing. We set up our tent in a soft sandy spot that was a river bed during the wet seasons.
We can set up our tent in about three minutes now, and were crawling in before no time. We decided to treat ourselves to the last of our Spanish rice. It’s our favorite, and I can’t wait to pick up more in Warner Springs.
Warner Springs is less than 25 miles away now. That’s just about two days, and I can’t wait. I think it should be kind of like Lake Morena, with a large area for PCT hikers and showers and laundry. I hope there’s showers and laundry, even if they’re just buckets. It’s so dusty out here we’re dirty immediately. When it mixes with sweat it’s even worse.
We’ll have about 6.5 miles to do tomorrow to get to our next water, where we’ll probably siesta again until it cools down. I’m thinking I like hiking at night much better, but we’ll have to get off these steep hillsides before we’ll be able to do much of it. I’m happy to be back on the trail though. We opened a window and looked out at the stars as we drifted into sleep.