April 12, 2017
Hauser Creek – Fred Canyon (15.4-32.02)
I didn’t sleep overly well last night. Border patrol helicopters flew low through the canyon throughout the evening, and it got coooold. My quilt kept me pretty warm, but I did wake up at one point in the wee hours and thought about putting my puffy on (but continued to use it as a pillow).
Around 5:30, I decided I was too hungry to keep lying there, so I made a truly horrific combination of instant oatmeal, chocolate breakfast shake powder, and instant coffee. The flavour was actually pretty good, but the amount of sugar was unreal. I think I’ll switch to unflavoured oatmeal next time I buy food.
Around 6, I started getting things ready to head out. Nothing to wake you up in the morning like nearly popping a squat in a patch of poison oak. Or climbing 1000 feet out of a canyon.
The climb up from Hauser wasn’t nearly as bad as I’ve heard it made out to be, but I was definitely glad that we saved it for the cool morning and fresh legs. Michael and I started climbing at 7am, and Jo and Mick weren’t far behind.
First view of Lake Morena!
The morning light on the canyon walls was gorgeous, and the cool air glorious. Soon, we got our first view of Lake Morena far below. We started heading down, and it didn’t feel like long before we had arrived at the campground. We walked down the street a bit to the convenience store to get drinks and snacks, and sat for a while with Bob (who also started out from Scout and Frodo’s with us), who had managed to get to Lake Morena the night before. Before we left the campground, we took advantage of having real toilets available to us.
First town haul
There’s a real toilet, but hope you weren’t planning on wiping
During the walk out of Lake Morena, the landscape became distinctly more desert-like. It was hot, scrubby, and sandy. It was some hard trudging, and we didn’t make it too far out from Lake Morena before we laid down in a patch of shade for a lunch break. I wasn’t hungry, but made myself eat something anyway, for the energies. I also washed my feet and changed into “clean” socks (ie. the ones I rinsed in the creek last night), which always feels wonderful.
We walked on and soon headed down into an area that was lush and green, a welcome change. We came to our first ever creek crossing, and I stopped to wash my dirty socks. I tried to cross without getting my shoes wet, but only managed to keep one dry. We came to another crossing just before Boulder Oaks campground, and there was no way to cross with dry feet, so I just splashed on through. I was too lazy to take off my shoes, but I think I will next time, because later in the day my feet were super gross and pruny from hiking in wet socks.
At Boulder Oaks, we caught up with Jo and Mick, who must have passed us while we were sitting around at the Lake Morena store. We quickly grabbed some water and moved on. From there, we started another climb of just over 1000 feet. It wasn’t too bad, since it was mostly pretty gradual, but it was super hot.
The views from up on the ridge were absolutely amazing. It was definitely exactly what I pictured when I thought of the SoCal section of the trail.
After a while, we came to a little side trail down to Kitchen Creek, which we had been following from far above for a while. We scrambled down, and actually managed to get into the creek for a little swim. Being relatively clean felt incredible. Creek crossings and swimming holes in the desert. Who would have thought. On our maps and water reports, all of these creeks are labelled with the disclaimer “usually dry”, but this year they are all flowing. It’s amazing.
After our swim, there were only about 2 miles to our planned camp spot for the night, so we booked it. We were still winding along the ridge, and the views were mind blowing. They kept getting better and better in the golden light of late afternoon. When we reached Fred Canyon, we found several people had already set up camp, but there was plenty of room. I’m sharing a little area with Michael, Jo, and Mick again, but there are about 6 people camped nearby in the site.
I made way too much food for dinner again, and got more water. There is a “usually dry” creek flowing through this canyon too. The other hikers had made a fire, so we went down to check it out. There was a couple from Canada (Vancouver, but originally from Ontario), so it was really nice to get to meet them.
My feet are pretty beat up after the last two days, and I’ve gotten a few blisters. Luckily, it’s a shorter day tomorrow to Mount Laguna (9.5 miles), and I’ll probably stay there tomorrow night. It’ll be our first real “town stop”, which is exciting!