Monday, April 4, 2016

From Lake Morena to Kitchen Creek Roadside Camp

Hot day for a clump out of Lake Morena.


Or a climb.

Leaving Lake Morena I felt like the trail was a sandy trough that just sapped my energy. But maybe that is just my memory playing up the difficulty. Or maybe I just wasn't in good trail shape.

Good to find a shaded resting spot under a bridge.
This is a bridge over Cottonwood Creek. Yes, the same creek that I got water from and camped next to. In between that point and this, there is a dam and the reservoir that is Lake Morena. On this side of the lake, Cottonwood Creek is rather dry.

And enjoy some flowers along the way.

At lunch I was sitting at a picnic table at Boulder Oaks Campground and was joined by Mighty Mouse and Barbra, and then soon by Mighty Mouse's husband, Tim, who drove up in their 4Runner, the same one that I had seen at the Lake Morena campground.

I came across Mighty Mouse and Barbra later and they convinced me to camp a bit off the trail where Tim had their camp set up. And also to slack pack the next section. For those that don't know, slack packing is hiking without having to carry all of your gear. In this case, made possible because Tim would take the gear, and we could hike with just the minimum, water, food, etc.

Mighty Mouse and Tim had hiked part of the PCT in 2014, so Mighty Mouse knew this part of the trail, and knew where camping and water were to be had.


2021 Commentary:

Woke up in the Lake Morena campground, and there was a flock of wild turkeys wandering around, visible from my tent. A very cool sight to wake up to.
After a bite to eat, I got packed up and headed out.
Interestingly, the trail crossed Cottonwood Creek once or twice today. This is the same creek that I was able to get water from at the end of my miscalculated first day. In between there and here, is the dam that creates Lake Morena. Upstream, the creek is dry. Maybe if you dug enough you might find dampness, but on the surface, it's all sand.
The first portion of the trail was a bit of a slog through soft sand, and it was pretty effective at draining away my energy.
I stopped for a break at some point and got talking to a man who had stopped in the same place. He was carrying some pretty heavy looking gear and was feeling a little discouraged. He said his daughter was planning on meeting him the next day and he was thinking of how he was going to continue his hike. I encouraged him to look into getting some lighter gear to make the walking easier. I don't recall if I ever saw him again, but I hope that he was able to have a hike that satisfied what he was looking for.

One of the things that hikers become obsessed with are places to sit and relax and especially eat.
I know this was early in the hike, but even so, a picnic table is always a welcome change from sitting in the dirt while resting or eating.
One of the interesting aspects of the PCT is that it was designed from the start as a trail not just for hikers, like the Appalachian Trail, but also for equestrians (and non horse pack animals as well).
So, in some places, you can come across camps or other facilities aimed at horse riders. Also, the trail is supposedly graded to allow horses to cope with it, although there are some portions that I wouldn't like to ride a horse alone, due to side slope and particularly loose rocky bits, but those come later.

At any rate, I came to one of these horse camps, Boulder Oaks Campground. It'd serve hikers fine, but it also had corrals for horses, and it was road accessible. There weren't any horses in residence, but it did have picnic tables and a working water faucet.

I set up for lunch, and I was joined by a few other hikers. As I said, picnic tables and benches are a draw for hikers.
Two women who were hiking together introduced themselves as Mighty Mouse and Meta or Barbra. Mighty Mouse was on her second try at the PCT, having completed most of the Southern California portion a couple years before.
Mighty Mouse's husband, Tim, drove into the camp in their 4Runner, which I recognized from the Lake Morena campground. They were, of course, the three people trying to wrestle the big air bed into their car camping tent.
We got to talking. Tim was supporting Mighty Mouse along the trail. Barbra was hiking along for a couple weeks, and Mighty Mouse was planning on going the entire way, with continuous footsteps from Mexico to Canada.
Mighty Mouse, having hiked this section before, had in mind a campsite which was by a creek, although not quite on the trail.

After lunch I hiked on, and eventually ran into Mighty Mouse and Barbra again, and they invited me to camp where they were camping, and said that Tim could slack pack us the next day if I camped by them.

To explain, slack packing is basically when you are able to hike without your full load of gear and food. This might sound like cheating, and some people won't do it, but mostly people adhere to the "hike your own hike" rule, and there's pretty much no negative feelings either way, after all, there is no race or competition, everyone on the trail is there for their own reasons.

At any rate, to slack pack, I put most of my gear and food into a one of the garbage bags that I used as a pack liner and left that with Tim to carry along in the 4Runner.
A couple ladies that Mighty Mouse and Barbra had met earlier also took them up on their offer.

Hiking with a minimal load, just snacks for the day and water and a jacket or such in the pack, makes it feel like you're not carrying anything, and the miles fly by much easier. But that's tomorrow.

In the mean time, I hiked along near Mighty Mouse and Barbra until we came to Kitchen Creek Road, then turned off the trail and walked on the side of the road for a short distance to an area with a few nice tent sites and a flowing creek.

I set up my tent then went down to the creek and soaked my feet in the cool, flowing, water for a few minutes.

Dinner and a little conversation, then in the tent for sleep.


Mighty Mouse's blog for today:


  1. Will you be able to make the Pathfinder game Wednesday? I can give your the coordinates if you would like.

  2. As long as you have water for us....