Day 4: Mt. Laguna

Date: April 13, 2017
Miles: 32 – 41.5

“The AT is the love of my life, but the PCT is my mistress.” ~ Young Gun

We woke up in Fred Canyon, thankfully frost-free, but still cold.  It’s been cold every night I’ve been out here so far.  I sleep in wool baselayers, socks and a beanie in a zero degree quilt and it is just right. Toasty even. It makes it very difficult to get up and put stinky, cold clothes on in the morning.

Today was a fun walk into the town of Mt. Laguna (pop. 55) through a field of unexploded ordnance…

‘What should we do with this field of unexploded weapons? I know, we’ll send PCT hikers through it…’

…and a stand of pine and redwood trees just before the Burnt Rancheria campground and Mt. Laguna.  On the way we were caught up to by Young Gun, who carries a ukelele and, by the looks of his pack, not a whole lot more. He stopped to chat with us for a while about the differences between the Appalachian Trail and the PCT, and then he was off at a pace that I may hope to reach by the time I get to Oregon but am certainly nowhere near at the moment.

The camp hosts at Burnt Rancheria were welcoming. The campground hadn’t yet opened to car campers, but they opened up a bathroom close to us, said we could stay and offered to make change for the coin-operated showers.  Once we got camp set up, we headed into town to resupply at the grocery store, check out the outfitters, and get dinner.

The home of million dollar mashed potatoes.

The grocery store had a lot of hiker food at three times the regular price, so we bought a little bit, then checked out the hiker boxes. (Hiker boxes are boxes located at various places along the trail that contain lots of free things that other hikers decide they don’t want or need.). At that moment, a man walked out of the nearby post office with a resupply box and asked if any of us wanted his extra food since his wife had decided not to do the rest of the trail. I’ve never seen adults throw themselves upon packets of tuna fish and powdered potatoes so fast.  It was like ants on a cheeto. The store owner just stood off to the side shaking his head disapprovingly, but no one cared. Free food!

The outfitters store was interesting. Imagine the contents of an REI store shoved into a supply closet and you’ll have an idea of what the inside of the Mt. Laguna Outfitters looks like. They also have a huge hiker box full of all kinds of things that people leave after they’ve had a pack shakedown by the employees.  They gave Sage an Osprey pack in exchange for his giant external frame pack and gave him a tarp to sleep under.

Sage and his new pack.

The Pine Valley Cafe is a neat place with a big tree in the middle of it, and wonderful burgers.

These are all hikers. The restaurant opens at 5 pm. It’s 4:59.

A bunch of hikers sat at a communal table in the middle of the restaurant, which was where I met Brea and Adam, who live in Bremerton, Washington.  Brea just finished chemotherapy for cancer, and then a few days into her hike she injured her knee, so she and Adam were hanging out in Mt. Laguna until she could hike again. I hope they’re able to get going again soon. They’re getting married at the end of the trail!

Hiker boxes outside of the outfitters.
Jessica and Max. We learned that Jessica twisted her ankle the next day and had to get off trail. 🙁

Big trees made for a nice change of scenery.

One Reply to “Day 4: Mt. Laguna”

  1. I so enjoy reading your blog and especially the pictures of my daughter (Kate) and her boyfriend (Strong Back), thank you for your posts, I look forward to continued tales from the trail.

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