Pacific Crest Trail: The Desert is Not What You Think

Since leaving Cabazon, things have begun to fall into place much quicker than the previous 200 miles. I feel like my routine has come back. My body knows what to expect each day with the amount of miles we’re doing. I awake at 5 and begin to get tired at 7. Just like old times. I’ve become accustomed to laying my ground sheet down just about anywhere at the end of the day to only minutes later fall asleep with everything in its place. I can’t remember the last time I set my tarp up to be honest. 

We left the Casino what feels like a lifetime ago, and the trail has changed so much since. As we tackled the first climb out of town, I quickly realized that we’ve only seen a fraction of what the Desert has to offer. Whitewater Preserve was an Oasis in what would generally be a dry, barren wasteland.  We ended up hiking the ridge to the plateau, finding an impeccable spot tucked away within the pines and then calling it a night as the sun set behind the mountains. One of my favorite camp sites up to that point, without a doubt. 

Out of Whitewater

Out of Whitewater

Dry Bite

Dry Bite

Dry Bite and Beehive

Dry Bite and Beehive

The next couple days yielded big miles with big rewards. We ended up pushing into Big Bear pretty quickly, and with a nice hotel leading us there, the miles from Paradise Valley along the ridge were some of my favorite miles to date. We ended up staying at the Vintage Inn, in town, and with Smokebreak being the ladies man that he is, he had a Tinder date and ended up getting our laundry done for us.

Deep Creek Hot Springs

Deep Creek Hot Springs

Out of McD’s

Out of McD’s

The following days included Pizza at the pavilion near Silverdale Lake, along with an EPIC breakfast at McDonalds the following morning. However; with the longest climb of the hike pending after McDonalds, we weren’t excited, ready, or even remotely close to start hiking. Dry Bite and I left breakfast around 9 AM, and with the hottest part of the day approaching, our miles were slugging along as the pure thought of the lack of water crossed my mind. We stopped fairly quickly at the first sight of shade, only to fall asleep after smoking a joint, something that provides great relief out here in the desert. I’m talking about the nap, guys, come on. 

We eventually meandered up the grueling, long switchbacks to only stop again halfway for a long siesta. We stabbed our trekking poles into the mountain side and created a shade shelter to get us through the hottest part of the day. It was sweltering and with no water on the entire climb, it was truly our only option. The sun eventually clipped the mountainside giving us the shade we needed. The next 14 miles flew by as the cool temperatures and slight breeze brought my core temperature back down. Wrightwood was eventually in sight and we slid into town just as the last restaurant was getting ready to close up shop. A burger and beer filled our gullets and eventually sleep took hold. We were 375 or so miles in, and I couldn’t have been feeling better. 

Baden Powell

Baden Powell

Catfish Jon / Hiked 550 Miles with him on the AT

Catfish Jon / Hiked 550 Miles with him on the AT

Wrightwood left us with a place to stay at the Bud Pharm, a local pot farm that lets hikers stay. Dave is the owner and has a wonderful property with great amenities for hikers. Really one of my favorite stops so far. 

MOJAVE Bob

MOJAVE Bob

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Out of Wrightwood, we had our minds on a few particularly popular spots, Hiker Heaven and Casa De Luna, both owned by Trail Angels who are famous along the PCT for hosting hikers for well over two decades. We pushed to Acton first, a stop right before Vasquez Rocks. We got a quick hitch into town to get some food after a nice 24 miles and ended up setting up camp right at the parking lot to get a good head start on the 10 miles into Hiker Heaven. That morning led us with a nice climb to begin the day, and we eventually strolled into HH and ended up getting breakfast, and hanging with John all day. John’s getting ready to hit the PCT later this spring, so it was nice getting to catch up with him before he gets on Trail. 

Vasquez Rocks

Vasquez Rocks

Taco cruising

Taco cruising

John Z

John Z

 Hiker Heaven was a nice change of pace from most of the places on the PCT up to this point. The Saufleys are some of the most generous folks out there, offering their house to hikers, having every amenitie possible, and just being a really great space for hikers. We ended up camping in their yard after a day filled with good friends and conversation, something the PCT is really lovely for. 

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 The next day led us another 24 miles to Casa De Luna, home of the Andersons, another lovely couple who are staples of the Trail angel community here on the PCT. We only stopped in for a quick meal and to experience the environment. I recommend every single Hiker to stop at both places. It’s really unbelievable how great people are and how much they are willing to give out of their own pockets and time buckets to others. 

That almost takes us to where I’m at currently. We are on a mission to get to the Sierra, and currently I’m at Hiker Town, a small little plot of land owned by a local. We’ve done some good miles over the last few days, and tonight we’ll be hiking a good portion of the 49 miles remaining to Tehachapi. This trail has been unbelievably and undeniably the nicest trail I’ve ever been on. It won’t be changing anytime soon, I imagine.