PCT Day 4: Trail of Unreal Beauty 

​April 14, 2017

Mount Laguna – Oriflamme Canyon (41.47-55.94)

14.47 (+ 1 mile side trail = 15.57 miles) 

Last night was definitely the coldest night so far. I slept in my puffy, two pairs of tights, and my beanie. I also cuddled with my water filter, phone, and external battery to keep them from freezing. The wind did die down at some point in the night, which was nice, but when I woke up my wet socks were frozen solid. 

Cougar prints! 

Michael, Jo, Mick and I all hiked out around 7:15. We had some excitement in the morning when we saw a trail of fresh cougar prints heading down the trail! We spread out quickly and I hiked alone most of the day again, leap frogging with the others periodically. 

Obligatory giant pinecone photo 

I had gone a few miles and was wanting to stop for second breakfast, but I was trying to wait until I reached a nice view point. Eventually I got too hungry and just sat down on the side of the trail. Of course, as soon as I started hiking, I turned the corner and there was an absolutely breathtaking view. 

The whole hike today was incredibly gorgeous. The trail wound around ridges pretty much all day, and the views were amazing. Today is the day the PCT stole my heart. All of the anxiety of starting was gone, and I was absolutely content and at peace. 

@Maynards: pls sponsor me. 

For some reason, I decided it was a good idea to do a half mile side trail to summit Garnet Peak. The view was pretty awesome, but I’m not sure it was worth the extra time, mileage, and elevation it added to the day. I definitely felt glad to be back on the PCT when I got down. 

On top of Garnet Peak

From the side trail, it was just a couple miles to a picnic area where I caught up with Michael, Jo, and Mick, who had passed me while I was doing the summit. I had a nice long break, ate some food, washed my feet and socks, and got water. From there it was only a few miles to my planned campsite. 

If it’s good enough for the horses, it’s good enough for me…. 

The trail out of the picnic area was incredible (again). There were a lot of day hikers about, and it was cool to talk to some of them who were really interested in the PCT and what I was doing. 

My planned camp spot for the night was a boulder field in Oriflamme Canyon. Guthook’s app claimed there was space for four tents, but I couldn’t see any real spots. I finally found the spot about 150 feet off trail. It’s a gorgeous spot with a great view. The ground is too hard to put stakes in, so I decided to cowboy camp for the first time ever! It’s the first time camping in a high, open spot on this trip, so it should be perfect for star viewing. Michael set up camp too, a little ways away under a boulder.

View from my first stay at the 5 billion star hotel

I was just sitting around, kind of wishing someone else would show up because I was still a little nervous of cowboy camping all alone. So I was super happy when Charlie Brown walked up and set up his tent beside my spot. Suddenly, all the hikers from Mount Laguna started showing up! We now have a completely full house with at least 6 tents and a bunch of people cowboying. 

We all sat around and cooked dinner together, and watched a gorgeous sunset over the canyon. It’s really nice to be hanging out with a bunch of other hikers, and I definitely don’t have to worry about cowboy camping alone! It’s dark now and I’m super excited to spend the night in the 5 billion star hotel. I’m going to get up early to watch the sunrise over the canyon, and might push a bigger day tomorrow, so I’d better get to sleep. 

7 thoughts on “PCT Day 4: Trail of Unreal Beauty 

  1. Don’t worry about making miles. Enjoy the hike. If Garnet peak was a trail sign that piqued your interest and hiking to it satisfied that curiosity, if you saw something new, then it was worth the mile and the half hour it took to hike the “extra” mile. More important than making miles is enjoying the miles you hike as much as you can. There will be tough times, but as Larb told me after listening to me complaining in NorCal, its the difficult parts of the trail that make the beautiful views and special moments that much better. I’ve found that he was totally right.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Did you pack one of those giant pine cones for a souvenir? It would look great on the mantel!

    I am glad this is the day your anxiety went away. I have to admit that following along with Google Earth and viewing your campsites was still inducing mild panic in me. But when I zoomed in on this boulder field campsite I was pretty excited about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. On the Appalachian Trail, my first cowboy campsite was north of Neel Gap on Levelland Mtn with my newfound hiking chums. The stars shone brite above; the far-away valley lights twinkled down the mountain below. It was a magical shared experience that I remember to this day (it was in 1999). Glad you enjoyed your “cowboy” moment 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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