Monday, March 18, 2019 – 9.80 miles
I only had nine miles to walk to Mount Laguna today, and I was planning to take a rest day there, so I walked slowly throughout the day. Near Long Canyon Creek I encountered a trio of PCTA trail runners who asked whether I had a long distance permit, whether I had started on my designated start date and whether I had a California campfire permit, but they didn’t ask to see either of the permits. Maybe they’re saving that request for the two hundred hikers intending to start on April 15th.
Beautiful tall evergreens surrounded Mount Laguna. I saw a mystery creature in the forest that I believe was a small cougar – it looked about the size of a lynx, but had no spots and I didn’t notice tufts on its ears. As soon as I moved, it took off running like a deer, bounding with its front feet striking the ground together and then the back ones.
I was planning to camp in Burnt Rancheria Campground, as were several other hikers I had spoken to. I got there and it was ridiculously huge, labyrinthine and deserted. Wandering around until I ended up at the exit, I saw that all the payment information and other signage had been taken down. Closed! And because I had been mucking around, the time was already almost 4:00 PM with no legal campsites for more than five miles.
I walked to the town and ran into Bryan and a thru-hiker outside the store. Bryan needed to rest his knee and had gotten a room at the lodge. I asked whether I could pay half and sleep on the floor, but the thru-hiker was interested in getting a room too, so he and I ended up getting a second room with twin beds. The lodge/store owner gave us buckets and soap to wash our clothes with and sent us on our way.
The thru-hiker (whose name of course I have already forgotten) is a nice Kiwi who just finished part of the Te Araroa. We watched The Green Mile. The mouse is so adorable… go to Washington and run free! Chew through hikers’ tents to your heart’s desire!