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[pct-l] Section A trip report.


I left Greensboro,  NC on Friday at 6:15 am,  March 27 and arrived at the
Warner Springs Fire Station at noon,  courtesy of Charlie Jones of San Diego,
to hike the first hundred miles of the PCT.  I had originally planned to leave
from Campo,  but a Saturday storm would have put me up in the Lagunas in the
midst of the mess.  Leaving from the north gave me more time for snow to
"disappear"  before I got there,  one would hope.

The temp was about 50 with light drizzle and fog,  not a terrible day.  As I
hiked south  up the creek I got lost among the many cow paths and turned away
from the creek to late.  I wandered up a cow path (where are those AT type
blazes when you need them,  on the AT of course!!)  until I came to a paved
road that I identified on the map.  Some local cow hands said to hike further
down the road and look for the trail in the meadow to the right,  it worked.
Those hiking north should not have this problem as you will strike the creek
and then head down in an obvious manner.  I made the 8 miles to Barrel Spring
in about 3 hours and mulled over the thought of going further for the night
and attacking the San Felipe's in one day.  The rain was worsening and I
realized I did not want to be stuck up there too long.  I loaded up water and
hiked about three miles further and camped on the trail,  only place flat

I should have remembered "hike high and camp low".  The wind howled all night
and temps went in to the upper thirties with light rain.  I broke camp at 5am
(8am EST) and crested out at 4500  an hour later when the rain changed to snow
and sleet.  These are not hills,   they rise from 2200 to 4500 south to north
and 3000  to 4500 N-S.  Most of the trail is on the west side and the wind hit
full force with sleet and snow blowing 30 mph at me horizontally.  I only
stopped to wring my socks out and eat a little something.  This is not what I
had planned on!!

As I approached Scissors Crossing I could see vehicles including what looked
like the white Explorer of Charlie Jones.  The last 8 miles was in and out of
ravines and took forever.  As I came out of each ravine I was hit with the
westerly wind in the face,  with gusts that knocked me over,  50 mph plus.  I
finally did make it down and found Charlie.  He came out to "pick up the water
jugs we left".  I know he was worried because the storm was to worsen over
night.  I eagerly accepted his ride back to S.D.  after 20 + long miles.

The next day ( Sunday) we drove south and tried to start at Campo,  hoping
things would be better.  NOT.  Snow at Campo and everywhere in between.

Monday dawned bright and clear and I started at Scissors where I left off.  I
hiked the 13 or so miles to Chariot Canyon,  beautiful.  I found a spot right
near the creek void of snow.  Still cold all day,  20 overnight.

Tuesday started clear and clouded up as I climbed the old truck trail to
crest.  This mile reminded me of much of the AT,  straight up!  Snow was still
6-8 inches with more on the north facing slopes.  I crested and contoured
south coming close to Oriflamme Canyon,  The snow was too much so I headed
west through a meadow to the Sunrise Highway S-1.  Laguna was about 12 miles
away and I hustled there to find a room.  The highway is much like to Blue
Ridge Parkway in character,  so it was enjoyable with few cars.  I arrived at
2:30 and found they had rooms.  The folks that run the store,  PO,  and lodge
were very helpful and understanding,  as they do NOT take credit cards,  cash
and checks only.  I had enough money for one night at a reduced hiker rate.  I
did figure out that I could buy a money order at the PO with an ATM card and
then use that at the store and lodge.  We were all happy.  By late afternoon
Laguna had fogged over in a biting cold with two feet on the ground and one
more forecast overnight.  The only other north bounder had left yesterday with
a TV crew for San Diego.  I was told he had already peeled on his nose and
necks three times.

The snow came and I laid over the next day,  Wednesday.

Thursday was crystal clear as I hiked down the S-1 at 5am,  beautiful.  No
cars and a light dusting on the plowed road.  It was a winter wonderland.
After 11 miles I crossed I-8 and paralled the same  on the old alignment down
to Boulder Oaks.  I actually picked up the trail at the Cottonwood Bridge as
the trail was flooded from Boulder Oaks down.  The four mile stretch into
Moreno Campground was beautiful after 25 miles of road walking.  My heels were
inflamed and very sensitive from pounding the pavement.  The trail was a
softer respite.  I arrived in time to go to the malt shop for a burger and
shake,  expensive,  but good.

The temps at Moreno were almost 60  with good sun.  I laid on the rocks next
to the backpacker sites  64&65.  They only charge two dollars for these sites,
with showers.  The sunset over the right shoulder of Moreno Butte and the lake
was outstanding.

I did not fly home until Saturday evening,  but did not want to camp along the
last 20 mile stretch.   So on Friday  by 6 am off I went to the border.  The
trail into Hauser Canyon is poorly constructed and eroding badly.  As a matter
of fact the trail  in both directions from Moreno north to Cottonwood Creek
and south to South Boundary Rd. is poorly built and eroding badly from the
heavy rain of recent.  Reconstruction  and re routing of segments is needed.
The remaining trail south is good and enjoyable.  I saw little evidence of
illegals and was told by several locals that the last thing they want is to
mess with us.  Be careful,  but don't worry too much.  I finished at the
border about 3 pm after hiking the afternoon in shorts for the first time!

Overall the trip was not what I expected,  but I was flexible and persevered
accomplishing what I set out to do.


Cous-Cous is a great trail food,  as are Vienna Sausages and beef stick.  I
never professed to be a gourmet.

Gaters,  low ones for sand are nice.

DO the SF Hills in a day  starting very early

A desert hat (foreign legion style) is nice,  Sequel makes a good one.

Carry less food as the appetite doesn't kick in for a few days.  I always
carry too much!

A map of the "area"  (San Diego Backcountry Map) is very helpful for the big

Watch your feet,  stop every hour and take your boots off for a few minutes
and change socks if needed.

Be flexible and enjoy yourself.  I planned to do seven 15 mile days and did
five and one half  20 mile days,  ugh!!  Road walking,  not what I wanted,
but there is something to enjoy in everything we do.

Get a trail angel,  Charlie Jones went way beyond the call to help me and  I
cannot imagine how I could thank him.

I'll be back next year for the next section.

David Craft
Greensboro,  NC

PS-  water was everywhere and should be for some time,  :>).

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