Pacific Crest Trail (2019) 11: Prove You Love Me by Backtracking on a Slope

Monday, March 25, 2019

Surprisingly chilly temperatures overnight froze the condensation on my tent walls. Unfortunately my water filter can be damaged by freezing temperatures, and I hadn’t stored it inside my sleeping bag. I suspect that the condensation on the walls was subject to lower temperatures than the filter, but I have no way to test the filter, so I may just have to replace it. So much for saving money by not staying in a hotel!

I packed up and started down the highway. Soon a car pulled over and the driver offered me a ride to Scissors Crossing, where highways S2 and 78 meet. She mentioned owning a restaurant in Julian – I would have asked the name were I planning to eat in town, but I still felt stuffed from finishing the pizza for breakfast. The secret to eating pizza stored inside a baggie is to avoid looking at it.

At Scissors Crossing I lucked out again, getting picked up by the first car that passed by. The occupants were two friendly young people who had driven down from San Francisco to see this year’s superbloom. One was a friend of Carrot Quinn’s, thus expanding my list of tenuous connections to PCT celebrities (last year I met one of Anish’s friends and also Darwin, a well-known Youtuber). They dropped me off at the Julian post office, where I picked up my package and plopped down on a conveniently located bench outside for sorting/packing. There I met Gourmet (a different Gourmet from last year), who had spent the night in town and was about to hitch back to the trail. He mentioned Mom’s Pie House, which gives free pie to thru-hikers. I hadn’t been planning to go since I didn’t think I qualified for free pie, but he showed me a free pie picture on his phone and it looked so delicious that I decided to at least enquire. During the walk to the restaurant, I met two hikers who had randomly been given a whole pie by a stranger. They were on their way back to the trail and concerned about the weight. Eat it now, it’s precious calories! Do you really have the right to call yourself a human being if you can’t eat half a pie?

At Mom’s Pie House, I told the woman at the counter that I was only hiking 700 miles, but she said that was fine and I received a free slice of apple pie a la mode and a free glass of lemonade. Very generous, and the pie was delicious.

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Free pie is always the best pie.

The German hiker from the RV park showed up and we talked for awhile, then I headed to the Julian Grocery & Deli to buy fuel and chips. They have a sign saying ‘welcome PCT hikers’ and I noticed that a few other places in town are trying to draw in hikers as well. One business has a fancy wooden sign saying ‘Hiker Food’ in their list of offerings, which made me laugh because it reminded me of ‘Horse feed’ and obviously that conjures up all kinds of delightful images. 

Hitchhiking back to the trail was fairly easy. Again I got picked up by tourists, this time a man and his three children. He was excited to meet a hiker. It’s always nice to meet parents who are enthusiastic about long-distance hiking – you hope they’ll pass on that spirit to their children, especially when the children are daughters, since some people still view ‘solo female backpacker’ as a very different entity than ‘solo male backpacker’. Just a few days ago I had a hiker say to me and another woman ‘I don’t want to sound sexist, but good for you’. With all the adventuring that women have done, why in 2019 are we still congratulating women for hiking long trails, especially a busy, well-maintained trail for which a woman holds the current unsupported speed record? Ladies, this is the least that can be expected! Getting on the PCT is average at best, no one’s a special cookie here!

The family dropped me off at the PCT trailhead on Highway S2. They were heading onwards and I should have asked them to drive me slightly further to the place where had I left the trail to walk to the RV park, but I didn’t think quickly enough when they informed me that they were taking S2 rather than staying on Highway 78, so I had to hike a short piece of trail twice. That was fine and I was soon heading NOBO again.

I was feeling intimidated by the long climb out of Scissors Crossing because eTrails advises leaving in the morning, but today’s temperatures weren’t bad, and ultimately nothing could be worse than last year’s climb out of Cascade Locks. A bigger impediment for me was the flowers, which far surpassed those prior to Scissors Crossing in variety. Even some of the cacti were blooming. I started thinking that I wouldn’t reach the top just because I was stopping every four metres to take pictures, and I even backtracked a few times to photograph things that I had missed. Yes, I BACKTRACKED ON A SLOPE. That should convey how amazing the flowers were.

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Dead cactus
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Eventually I did get to the top, or at least a temporary levelling out of the trail. The wind was picking up, but I found a camping spot both sheltered and scenic.

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While arranging my gear in the dark, I looked towards a pile of rocks and saw two eyes glowing there. Glowing eyes are always a bit… but these were small eyes. Brightening my headlamp, I saw a ratlike creature (possibly a rat) sitting among the rocks. Maybe disliking the light, it squeaked and scurried away. Sorry, little guy. But I saw it in the same place later. Be there all you want, just don’t be chewing my tent.

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