Pacific Crest Trail (2019) 65: Automatoning

Saturday, May 18, 2019 – 21 miles

The weather forecast is predicting a dump of precipitation for tonight and tomorrow, so my goal for today was to get past the high elevation section around Bear Mountain and camp in Rockhouse Basin. Unfortunately that meant walking ~21 miles, which I estimated would take me around fourteen hours. I had thought to skip my granola and milk in the morning in favour of a quicker breakfast, but ended up waking up in the dark at 4:00 AM and feeling wide awake (I’m old now, I’m calling it) so I didn’t rush and got walking around 5:30 AM when the sun was rising. The sky was clear and the air was crisp and the views were beautiful in the early morning light.


After about a mile, I came to a saddle with much cleaner and more scenic camping than Lamont-Spanish Needle Saddle. I could have made it there yesterday, but oh well.


I completed the eight miles to Canebrake Road quickly, but they were mostly downhill. Day hikers had told me about a trail angel there, but she or he was along the road a short distance and I was able to slip past without feeling rude.


From Canebrake Road, the trail began an ascent with ~2600 feet of elevation gain and ~220 feet of elevation loss. I did my best to channel Washington. After 1000 feet I reached Fox Mill Spring, which was a useless drip from a pipe.

Fox Mill Spring

A creek nearby was running strong and clear though, so collecting water from the sludgy trough wasn’t necessary.


Trudging up the remaining distance, I was rewarded with a glimpse of the High Sierras. They sure looked snowy compared to the photo in eTrails.


I was almost dead after sixteen miles, then dead after seventeen miles. I started thinking about how nice it would be to be pulled along the trail in a coffin by a team of horses (apparently my corpse would be absurdly heavy). During the climb, the trail had entered a tedious burn area. Not all burn areas are unattractive, but this one was hideous, just barren slopes with a scattering of shrubs and stick-like trees.

With no fuel from scenery, I ate a snack and automatoned onwards, completing a 2000+ ft descent into Rockhouse Basin. I collected water from Manter Creek, which was scummy and gross, then followed the PCT until it entered a more sheltered area with pine trees. Leaving the trail, I quickly found somewhere to stealth camp. The total distance took me around eleven hours, so it was quicker than expected, but I didn’t get much lounging/staring time either. I did see a bird taking a birdbath, which was cute. Perhaps not the type of thing you want to see in your water source, but cute.


The rain started around 7:00 PM. The soil is sandy here so I’m hoping for no strong wind. During the day I felt some chafing, but didn’t bother stopping to apply Body Glide. When I removed my pants in my tent, I saw that the chafing is much worse than before and extends all the way to my knees. Poor legs!!

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