Day 26: mile 298.5 to mile 318
5.11.18. 19.5 miles.
Today was like a dream PCT day. And again, another day I didn’t have to dig a cat hole! Any day I don’t have to dig a cat hole is a good day.
I got started a little later than usual (6:20 am) but was feeling really good and the trail was super cruisey. Kristie and I hit mile 300 pretty quick and took a small break to take photos. From there, I didn’t stop until we got to the Deep Creek Hot Springs!
I’ve heard tons of things about these hot springs, good and bad. I thought they were pretty good today, though I could have done without all of the naked men hanging around (why do old men like to be naked in public?) I felt like I was in San Francisco again, and not in a good way. We met some fireman who work for the USFS and were doing restoration work at the hot springs, mainly dismantling illegal fire rings, which looks like a ton of hard work! We were able to talk with them, and they were happy to talk with us about Leave No Trace and the greater Deep Creek area. They know the wilderness like the back of their hands and you can tell they truly care about these places and they want people to enjoy them. One of the men has a phone call with the PCTA tomorrow and was especially interested in our view of the camping situation in this stretch. We were honest: the camping isn’t great because there’s no designated campsites, which makes it difficult to plan your day(s) around a pretty well-known landmark such as the hot springs. The fireman was very empathetic and even had ideas of trying to figure out a way to get a campground near deep creek for backcountry use. We lamented in the fact that local day hikers were causing most of the problems. It really is disheartening to see local people leaving full trash bags and even random items around a gem like the hot springs. You’d really think people would care more about the places they visit. There was also a ton of graffiti on the rocks leading away from the hot springs area too. I wish people would care more about Leave No Trace.
I didn’t go into the hot springs because the fireman told us a lovely fact about the level of fecal particles measured in the springs, so I opted to soak my feet upstream of the human soup water in the cold river instead.
After the springs, we still had 10 miles to cover before getting to camp. The miles weren’t too bad except for a couple of climbs that were challenging after not doing many climbs, and the wind was howling. I finally understood the desert wind. I felt like I was going to blow off the mountain a few times.
We finally made it through the afternoon and got to camp and it was still so windy, but thankfully the little gully is more protected. We’re camped with basically everyone we’ve seen today: there’s at least 12 tents set up in this area. I have a feeling this little herd will be doing the same things all the way to Wrightwood because of how the mileage and campsites work out. I’m happy because I was able to get a super good pitch on my tent in the wind and get some good, big rocks on the door stakes, so I think I’ll be ok tonight.
I also wanted to show a little realness today: here’s what the inside of my tent looks like once I get set up, and how I eat dinner almost every night.