We set off from Boulder Oaks oaks campground, after quite a chilly night out (2c). The day had us climb about 1000m over the next 15 miles (24km).
We soon started the ascent, and hiked for a bit with ‘Animal‘ for a short bit until he sped off in front of us. It was really interesting hearing about the flora of the area from him. It’s nice to be able to spot plants and flowers and be able to name them. After the first 3 miles, we stopped for breakfast, some laundry and a so refreshing rinse of our feet in kitchen creek. Kristin makes a mighty fine washerwoman, read that as you will. 😉
We carried on hiking into the heat around an exposed hill and on through mile 32 which offered a nice short break from the over bearing heat. We soon moved on and pushed up the hill and spent an hour over lunch and mile 36 by a nice shady Oak Tree.
For me (Steve), It’s really interesting comparing my hike through this section in 2012 to now. I hardly remember the long-hot-boring sections at all, and generally just remember the great little spots between.
From mile 36 we pushed a final 5 miles up to Mount Laguna. There is no remote camping allowed in this section, so we camped just shy of the start of the restriction. For about the last mile and a half, we were greeted by wonderful high desert pine forests. ‘Animal‘ would tell us later of the shared name ‘Ponderosa Pine’ that covers a wide range of these pines over the States. It was a nice change to amble through a forest, with the distinct pine smell, rather than trek through veld that strongly reminded us of the veld back in South Africa.
After a night of interrupted sleeping due to us sliding down the tent because we set it up on a gentle slope, we hike the 1 mile into Mount Laguna. We had 2 breakfasts in Pine House Tavern, on a PCT Hiker special, which unfortunately were quite not that filling. After wondering round the very small town, we headed off back up the PCT.
About 5 miles on, we were treated to stunning views as the Anza-Borrego desert floor opened up beneath us. The was an amazing sight to see, after having slogged up the back of Mount Laguna the day before without many comparable views. The PCT followed this ridge line for the next 8 miles before we started heading away from it and followed a ridge that gradually took us down (over 30 miles).
We spent that night at mile 56, in exactly the same spot i spent in 2012. This time we were brave enough to cowboy camp! It was so much easier than setting up a tent, but ended up being fairly windy! Our packs protected us a little and our mummy sleeping bags kept the rest out.