May 10, 2017
Little Jimmy Campground – Three Points Trailhead (383.86-403.07)
15.41 PCT miles + 4.81 alternate miles = 20.22 miles
I slept soooo well last night. You know you’re getting used to trail life when you sleep better in your tent than in an actual bed. I was so warm and cozy in my quilt, it was a struggle to get up in the morning. After a bit of a slow start, I was hiking just after 6:30.
The morning was beautiful. It was cool, but sunny, and I revelled in taking deep breaths of the fresh mountain air. It smelled amazing. The pine forest reminded me a bit of forests back home in Ontario, and the trips I took there last summer. My first solo backpacking trips. I remember how much my first overnight alone in the backcountry scared me. If only the me from a year ago could see me now.
After hiking through the forest for a while, I came upon an amazing view of the sea of clouds below, punctuated by a few hill tops that had managed to poke through. I began the climb of Mt. Williamson, which was surprisingly difficult. The steep uphills always get me. The trail ascended 1200 feet over 1.7 miles of switchbacks. I wanted to wait until I got to the top to stop for my breakfast break, but I got too hungry and ended up stopping at an awesome viewpoint 0.2 miles from the top. There was a side trail to the summit, but I decided to skip it. I almost accidentally continued up to the summit when I reached the junction, but luckily there was a couple there taking a break who helpfully informed me that I was going the wrong way. I thanked them and headed down the other side of the mountain.
Soon, I arrived at Eagles Roost picnic area, which marks the start of the endangered species alternate. A four mile section of the trail is closed to protect the habitat of the mountain yellow-legged frog. There is a trail alternate which is 20 miles long and skips 7 miles of the PCT, or an alternate that involves a road walk, but is only 5 miles long and skips only 4 miles of the PCT. The road walk was advertised as “potentially dangerous”, but we decided to do it anyway. It was only 2.7 miles on the highway.
I put on a podcast to help pass the time on the road, and started walking. It didn’t take long for the potential danger to become clear. There were a ton of blind corners where the shoulder was essentially non-existent. Luckily, there wasn’t too much traffic. I only saw a few cars during the hour I spent walking on the side of the road. After leaving the highway, we walked through Buckhorn Campground until we joined a trail that led us back to the PCT. Gummies caught up with me and we walked together until we got back to the trail, where we immediately stopped beside a magical babbling brook for lunch. It was such a nice spot. The water was cold and clear and shade was abundant.
Cougar and Dr. McDirty caught up with us at the tail end of our break, and I was super glad to see them since there had been no sign of them since I left them at camp this morning. They decided to take over our lunch spot while we moved on. After lunch, the day become hot, and the trail was uphill and sunny. I listened to another couple episodes of my podcast, which really helped me get through the tough hiking. The afternoon trail was pretty uneventful. There were some pretty nice views at the top of the climb, and then we were winding around the highway, without much to look at. We crossed Highway 2 five times today, not including the 2.7 miles we spent walking on it.
Cougar and Dr. McDirty caught up to us again at a water source. No one was sure about where we were going to camp, since there weren’t really any camp spots shown on our maps or apps. We pressed on, and passed the 400 mile mark. Next up is 500, which seems somewhat significant. I rounded a corner, and realized we had almost descended to the level of the sea of clouds we has been winding far above for 2 days now. It looked like something out of a horror movie, with the fog crawling over the hills and slowly advancing toward us. Eventually, we descended down into it and were surrounded by mist. We entered a burn area, and poodle dog bush loomed out of the fog. It was pretty eerie looking.
Poodle dog in the mist
Soon, we reached Three Points Trailhead, a massive parking lot with an outhouse, picnic tables, and garbage bins. I was hoping to find a place to camp, and luckily there were some perfect spots just above the parking lot, somewhat sheltered from view by some trees. There was only one car in the parking lot anyway, so I wasn’t too concerned. Plus, Gummies and two couples are also camped here. Apparently Cougar and Dr. McDirty ended up setting up camp about a mile back. Hopefully we’ll see them at some point tomorrow.
We had dinner at the picnic table, the whole place still shrouded in thick fog. I had taco rice with cheese again, and it was freaking amazing. Thinking to put cheese in my rice sides is definitely one of my prouder moments. While we were eating, the fog suddenly cleared, and the sea of clouds settled back down into the valley below. It looked so pretty as the sun was setting, lit by light pastel colours. It’s another chilly night, and I’m cozy in my quilt, ready for bed. More tomorrow!