Woke up at 5:30 ish and packed up in the dark with my red light, more red lights across camp. There is a spot near my head that looks like somebody pooped there with some buried TP sticking out of the ground.
I have my morning burst of energy and power up the beginning of the ridge before becoming normal again. The trail goes over one ridge and down into a small valley, then up again, the sun kissing the rocks on the top of the ridges. There are tons of cute little bunnies everywhere and I talk to them and call them bun-buns. They are spies for the snakes. Duh.
I go over the top of the second ridge and find my sunglasses to cut the glare from the sun. Then there’s a bunch of flat and down to Lake Morena, where I might catch Rachel and Jono, and definitely get some food at the deli. The trail winds through a chaparral maze, green with vines with Maple-oid leaves and curling tendrils.
Lake Morena! I take a minute to read some signs posted for PCT hikers and then head into the Campground. The Wolverines of the PCT are there with trail magic bagels and fruit, hiker boxes and their infamous shakedown tent. I grab an orange, wave hi to Scout as he pulls up, and walk the .1 of a mile to the deli. I order potatoes and eggs, a salted caramel milkshake, and buy some Bugles. I sit outside to eat and talk with some locals.
Then I go back to the campground and take a shower, loiter around the Wolverines’ campsites watching shakedowns, and charge my phone. With all of the service I’ve had, my power has gone down much faster than on the JMT. Then off I go! I quickly run into Rachel sitting by the side of the trail and we head off together.
There is finally Sagebrush and I am happy. It’s 70 ish versus yesterday’s 90 degrees so it’s also much cooler. We reach the highway and I sit for a long time talking to everyone and listening. It’s sandy and nice. There is graffiti on the bridge, mostly hiker names and dates, although there’s also words scrawled in Spanish the column over. I meet my first non-AT thruhiker who’s been given a trail name, Tarantino, who is filming a documentary. Then there’s Alpo, an ATer, and everyone else.
I finally pull myself away, cross some rocks over the first branch of Cottonwood Creek, only to have to walk through the second one. I scare a bunch of children who are walking down to visit the creek with my thru-hiker-ness. Homeless creep.
I make it to Boulder Oaks Campground and fill up my water at the spigot. It seems deserted, and when I walk down past a bunch of horse stalls I meet guys who say it’s been shut down to motor campers because of an endangered frog they found nearby. Rachel and Jono, who has just accepted the trail name of Nirvana because he looks like Kurt Cobain apparently, walk by to head 2 miles further to Kitchen Creek Falls. There’s a swimming hole that was reported on the Water Report copies we are carrying, but it’s a month since it was reported. I can’t decide whether or not I want to hike further, but in the end the private Campground with water spigots and tables is too much to pass up.
I set up camp with Alpo and the rest of his group. There is Farkle, Annie (who I think is taking the name Karma), Colleen, Kathleen, Tommy, and of course Alpo, who we joke is our trail mom.
We play an intense game of Farkle (I upset Farkle’s huge lead, then Alpo does the same with mine and wins) and then head off to bed. They are all planning to wake up at 4:30 to night hike, and get to Mt. Laguna by the end of the day, and I am going to join them.