This section of the PCT really tested us – it was hot, water was scarce, there was elevation gain and loss, and hikers around us were succumbing to heatstroke and dehydration. Thankfully we had just enough water to get us through this section.
Leaving from the campsite we found at mile 4.5, we appreciated the early start we got, managing to beat the heat for a little while. However, once the sun rose over the surrounding hills, it got hot quickly. We took our time as we climbed up the hills, then back down towards Hauser Canyon, where we spent the night. We set up camp fairly early in the afternoon, but were content to stay put, wanting to tackle the climb up and out of the canyon early the next day.
In the morning we donned our headlamps, broke down camp, ate a quick breakfast and then headed up, up up. Halfway we met a hiker who had run out of water and was laying to the side of the trail. We didn’t have much water to spare, but we gave a cupful. Shortly after another hiker came to help him out – he didn’t have much water to spare himself, but he actually put on the struggling hikers pack and the two of them were able to make it to a water cache a few miles away. It became clear that the heat of the desert was absolutely no joke, and it was essential to carry plenty of water.
Once we crested the hill we began the slow, steady descent towards Lake Morena. It was in this stretch that we met Charcoal and Struggles, who we would continue to hike with off and on until Agua Dulce. As we approached Lake Morena, and subsequently made our way to the County Park to camp for the night, several hikers asked if we had seen the rattlesnake on the trail that was there just a few minutes ago. We didn’t – I think we walked right by it without seeing it! We definitely made sure after that to keep a close eye on the trail at all times.
It was great to be in an established campground in some ways – lots of water, restrooms, flat ground and shade trees. However, it was pretty loud and crowded – still, we were tired enough to get a good night’s sleep. Oh, we definitely made our way to the Malt Shop – twice! Once for breakfast and again for dinner – even though we had only been on the trail a few days, it really hit the spot.