16.5 miles including 1.5 mile hike-in to PCT
Finally, back on the trail. We have now completed roughly 158-miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. It has been more than a month since we last hiked. With a brief family reunion scrunched in between Christmas and New Years, it was hard to find time to get out to the trail. Now, though it seemed too cold to our likings, we did agree on last Thursday night that whatever the temperature, we would head out on a hike. When we woke up early and checked the weather report, we learned it was only 28-degrees in Julian, CA, close to our day’s trail head, but that a high of 60-degrees was expected through the day. This was do-able, so we packed up and went.
We dropped off one car at Scissors Crossing, literally the intersection of San Felipe Road and Highway 78. Then, we headed to Mason Valley Truck Trail Head, a stopping point of a previous hike. We quickly tackled the 1.5-mile hike-in to the PCT. We both bumped and shook our packs into place along the way until the packs felt right: it had been a while since we’ve had them on and they were only partially full. Lynn carried about 23-pounds, Patti used a day-pack and carried 10-pounds.
Recent rains brought a bit of snow but hardly enough to cause trouble. We saw footprints of two hikers ahead of us and one hiker, who we met up with, left footprints going the other way. We were heading north, he was going south. Once we got on the trail after the hike-in, we corkscrewed into Chariot Canyon. It was not a huge descent but it was still rough on both of us. Breaking while going down a steep enough incline often gives both of us knee strain. But we both managed through it without much effort. Patti had one knee brace on and decided along the way that she’ll get one for her other knee before the next hike.
The sun kept the air warm through the morning hours. But it became chilled once we passed the summit of our hike at just north of Rodriguez Road. The sun would eventually pass and descend west past the mountains. In fact, our cheeks became slightly wind-burned from the cold air from the northeast. We believed that this would be a relatively easy hike. But once we passed through Chariot Canyon we encountered Rodriguez Canyon. The two canyons kind of intersect at a 45-degree angle in a huge cut through the earth. We didn’t see it this way until looking at the maps afterward, but the picture below shows you how the canyons meet.
At the bottom of Rodriguez Canyon, we found a campsite at Rodriguez Spur Road that intersects with the PCT. Just a half-mile or so back from that point we found a water source for hikers.
Once past the Rodriguez Canyon area, we climbed out of the mountains and dropped into the desert toward Scissors Crossing. We were running out of daylight and the hike was proving to be a little more challenging than we had planned. But the view of the land was spectacular as the dropping sun left interesting shadows for us to weave through as we found our way to the car.
It might be a while before our next outing but we’re already planning on one and hope to see it through soon. Patti continues to defy her cancer by taking on life head-on, as she always has. How else could she take on hiking more than 16-miles just a bit after her third round of chemo? She flips the proverbial bird to her cancer by living life with cancer rather than living cancer through life. Remarkably, the chemo side effects have been tolerable despite all the warnings of things to come. Yes. Absolutely. Cancer sucks. But Patti continues to beat it down.
Sixteen miles. Really?