Day 21 5/4
Mile mark 342-364.5
I15 to Guffy

At El Cajon Pass the PCT comes the closest to a McDonalds on the entire trail. I can’t remember the last time I had McDonalds, but yesterday the short walk and promise of calories lured me in. Even one of the vegetarians I was with broke down and ordered some (vegetarian)food. After the binge, a few hikers and I agreed to split a hotel room.

It’s now around eleven in the morning and the day is already hot. The trail winds up a short mountain before it drops and begins the real climb of the day. I started the climb well refreshed, but now I’m half way up and starting to feel it.

This section of the trail isn’t closed, but there is poodle dog brush and it’s recommended that hikers take the dirt road that parallels the trail. Before this trip, I had never heard of poodle dog brush, but I’m now and expert at identifying it and avoiding its poison oak like properties.

There’s a growing roar of an engine behind me. When I look back, I see a dirt bike approaching and I step to the side of the dirt road. Nearly 20 dirt bikes fly by me and leave me sucking in dust while I hit the steepest pitch yet.

While going up the hill my shorts have been grazing two mosquito bites on the back of my leg and aggravating them and me. I step wrong on a sharp rock and get a sharp jolt of pain across my entire foot and up my leg. The dust, bug bites, sore feet, and steep road are too much. I pause and grasp my trekking poles with sweaty, sunscreen covered hands. Digging the poles into the hill above me, I lean forward, pressing the grips into my chest for support while I rest. I suck in the dusty air, and I mumble to myself, “no one ever tells you about how miserable this can be.”

I press on up the hill. Not much later, the alarm on my watch goes off signaling time for a break. As if the trail senses my misery, it puts a lone Ponderosa pine forty feet ahead with flat ground and a perfect circle of shade beneath it. While I would previously taken this tree for granted, 300 hundreds miles in and out of the desert has made me appreciate a flat shady spot like I have never imagined.


Tunnel under I15.

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