Thursday, January 19, 2017

PCT Section A Itinerary

Here's my PCT Section A plan for March 2017. This is right at the beginning of the season when thru-hikers start their hikes, so I'll get to meet them as they go past (and any thru-hiker who is in any shape at all to actually hike from Mexico to Canada will be passing me). I won't be in good shape when I start this hike, and I'm sure that some of the early days on the trail are going to hurt.

  • Day 0: Border to Mile 4.3 (4.3 miles)
    • The first 20.6 miles of the PCT have almost no water. There's a stream at mile 4.3 that dries up early in the season. If it's flowing in early March, I think it would be great to start the hike in the afternoon and just do a short first day to the stream and camp there.
  • Day 1: Mile 4.3 to Hauser Creek (11.7 miles)
    • Hauser Creek is at mile 16. It dries up in early spring but I'm told if it's dry you can hang a left (east) and hike along the bottom of the canyon to find water about a mile and a half away.
  • Day 2: Hauser Creek to Boulder Oaks (10.4 miles)
    • Just 4.6 miles after Hauser Creek is Lake Morena. It's a nice campground with water and a store nearby. Another 4 miles takes you to S1, Sunrise Highway. There might be water there in the early spring, but if not, cross under the highway and walk a few more flat miles along Cottonwood Creek to Boulder Oaks campground. Last year in late May there was still a muddy puddle of water left but nothing more. But Boulder Oaks at mile 26.5 has running water.
  • Day 3: Boulder Oaks to Long Canyon (9.6 miles)
    • From Boulder Oaks, which is near the 8 freeway, you begin the climb up Mt Laguna. I've only done the first 2.1 miles to Kitchen Creek, which are not steep. There's water in several places, Kitchen Creek Falls, Kitchen Creek Rd, and the Cibbet Flats campground near Fred Canyon Rd. But if Long Canyon creek is flowing at mile 38.1, I'd like to make it to there for the day.
  • Day 4: Long Canyon to Penny Pines (10.8 mi)
    • Resupply at Mt Laguna, then hike to Penny Pines at mile 48.9.
  • Day 5: Penny Pines to Rodriguez Spur Truck Trail (8.9 miles plus another mile off trail to water)
    • This section is pretty low on water. There's a cache at Pioneer Mall at mile 52.7 and then a few other options for water that are pretty far off trail. At this point, the trail is descending from Mt Laguna into the desert.
  • Day 6: Rodriguez Spur Truck Trail to Scissors Crossing or San Felipe creek (8.8 miles or 9.2 miles)
    • Scissors Crossing, at mile 76.4, is where you can hitch a ride to Julian. I think I'd prefer to do that if possible, and I'll have to do that if San Felipe creek is dry. Julian's a fun town in the mountains known for its pie. The other option if San Felipe creek has water is to camp there.
  • Day 7:Nearo in Julian (~4 miles)
    • I plan to spend most of the day in Julian and then get a bit of hiking done in the evening when it's cool to put me closer to the Third Gate water cache. There's 14 miles between Scissors Crossing and the Third Gate and little to no water in between. That would be a long day for me, especially in the desert heat. I'd prefer to break it up - and add pie.
  • Day 8: Hike to the Third Gate (10 miles)
    • The Third Gate is a very reliable water cache at mile 91.
  • Day 9: Third Gate to Barrel Spring (10.2 miles)
    • This bit finally takes you out of the desert toward Warner Springs. near Barrel Spring in March before. It's definitely not desert.

  • Day 10: Barrel Spring to Warner Springs (8.2 miles)
    • This last part of section A is flat, easy, and lovely. I've hiked there in March before. There are green meadows and you might seem some cows (which are a good reason to filter your water). At the end, you'll reach the wonderful Warner Springs community center that is very good to PCT hikers. It's a 1.2 miles hitch or hike into town from the fire station at the end of Section A.

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