The trail isn’t all deprivation, because at 8:45 this morning, I was eating French toast, bacon, poached eggs, and fresh orange juice.
As you might have guessed, today was our first stop in a trail town! Last night we rolled into the Burnt Rancheria campground around 6:30 or so. Inexplicably, even though there are dozens of PCT hikers arriving every day, the campground was still closed — bathrooms locked, showers locked, water off. So we crashed and called it a night. However, in the morning, we hightailed it into the tiny town of Mt. Laguna — population, oh, I don’t know, but probably a couple of hundred at most. We even got to the local café a half-hour before it opened.
But, once inside, oh man, we were happy: a full breakfast menu, including sausage and gravy (pretty much Clare’s favorite any place), eggs, pancakes, French toast…you name it. Delicious!
We contemplated the menu for a bit, but, just as we were about ready to order, we saw walking up outside Kara and Allie, two fellow hikers we’d seen every day since the beginning. So they got a huge, warm welcome from me just outside the front door, and joined us at our table. Then, just as they were ready to order, Justa showed up, and then Keith and Shannon. (The waitress had long since moved us to a large community table by then.)
And that’s how we ended up feasting on breakfast, discussing our “other lives” (which any reader of this blog would refer to as our “normal lives”, i.e., our lives when not hiking), showing off pictures of significant others, and discussing gear. It was great. We devoured the meals, drank too much coffee, and generally had a great time.
Lest you wonder whether Mt. Laguna caters to PCT hikers at all, take a look at the photo of the Mt. Laguna store, and then look at what’s inside it. The place is packed to the gills with hiking gear — everything from freeze-dried food and carabiners to brand-new tents, sleeping bags, and backpacks. At mile 41 (and hence Day 4 for most hikers), it’s pretty much ideally-positioned to be a shakeout point for gear that wasn’t working out. We spent only a little over $40 there, but the guy in front of us spent $250 or so. Most charmingly, we saw a couple who’d been relying on just one big two-person quilt for themselves buying another sleeping bag — as romantic as it might sound to snuggle up with someone all night long, the reality is more like waking up not only every single time you roll over, but also every single time your partner rolls over, too. I suspect they’ll be much happier now.
We picked up our first resupply next — more about those later, when I have more photos to show you — and, finally, headed out of town. It was really late, for hikers — about 11:30 AM — and so we hit the trail pretty hard.
This evening, we’re camped at the Pioneer Mail Picnic Area. Camping at a picnic area? I mean, we looked around, and nothing says we can’t camp here…and, besides, it’s actually the only reasonable place to camp for quite a while. (We’re far from the only PCT hikers here.) We’re rapidly getting into stretches where the lack of water requires serious advance planning, and the spaces between campsites are similarly long.
More on that soon, though. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with photos of happy, feasting hikers — and a truly beautiful, mountainous desert.