We got up with the birds just before sunrise in hopes of making it 5 miles to our next water before it got too hot. It was pleasant to hike in cool temperatures for a change. As usual, the first few miles were tough as our muscles warmed up. Even slight upholds felt like slogging through mud.
Once we got our legs back we made pretty good time to the creek. Keith was moving a little slowly – I think the lack of water over the last few days was catching up with him. We spent an hour or so at the water, resting and filtering a few liters to get us to the campground. I took a quick bandana bath and washed the salt stains out of my shirt and hat. We chatted with a few guys who had also camped at the creek last night. One of them had heard we were from MN and wanted the scoop on the BWCA. He was talking to the right people! He said we didn’t have the MN accent, which I thought was funny. I didn’t tell him that we don’t ALL talk like we’re from the movie Fargo.
On our way again, we headed right into another climb. It looked difficult but turned out to be easier than expected, even with the building heat. The brush around us was filled with birds. We saw ravens, hawks, hummingbirds, and jays. I flushed what I think was quail from the scrub – some kind of roundish bird with a topknot, at any rate. They nearly gave me a heart attack when they exploded from the bushes. I also saw some kind of bird, maybe a flycatcher, that croaked like a frog.
After our climb out of the creek we wound along the cliffs for a while before entering the Mt. Laguna area. It was an abrupt change – desert scrub one minute, and shady pines the next. It smelled awesome and it was nice to walk on all the duff instead of sandy dirt. The wind hissed through the trees and it made me a little homesick. A few more miles brought us to the turnoff for the Laguna lodge. We were craving a soda but first we had to navigate the maze of loops in the campground we ended up in. Finally we reached the highway at the entrance, only to spy an oasis just up the road – the Pine House Cafe. This was well timed because I had just started to get an appetite earlier this morning. We couldn’t keep the grins off our faces as we looked over the menu. After great burgers and fries and a few ice-cold sodas, we headed back out to our packs to drop off a postcard at the mailbox before hitting the trail.
Rehydrated, with good food in our bellies, we practically flew up the gentle trail. We had about 5 miles to go to our campground destination for the night. Along the way we got our first glimpse of the desert on the other side of the mountains – Anza-Borrego to the west (which we’ll tackle tomorrow) and the scorching Colorado to the east. About a mile out from our exit point we took a quick, packs-off jaunt up to an the amazing Foster point to take a closer look at the desert. It was an easy choice to take this short side trip, even at the end of the day – when we take our packs off it feels like we’re floating up the trail, like there’s a gentle hand on our backs pushing us forward.
A short hike later we reached the highway and walked down to the camp. We were gunning for a shower, but – maximum sadness! – the water was still off for the winter and we had to be content with a bandanna bath. Even that was satisfying. My feet were nearly black from all the dirt and it was nice to be able to scrub them clean. The state of our feet is pretty good so far with no blisters, but there’s still many miles of desert to go.
After washing up we boiled up some Kraft dinner and ate in our luxuriously cozy sleeping bags while evaluating tomorrow’s route. It ought to be another hot one…
– Posted from the PCT