Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Well, I completed the SDTCT a few weeks ago....

the crew at the end....
It was so awesome, once again being surrounded by a group of avid hikers. It was another grand adventure no doubt.  Eight days of hiking, sweating, bonding, and stinking up the amazing geography that separates the Sultan Sea from the Pacific Ocean. The beginning and ending point of this 'trail' are something around 150-160 miles apart and some of the most amazing lands that Southern California has to offer. This trail is not completed in anyway and any route info you may find here, is a 'use at your own risk' type of scenario. We more or less linked up different trail systems with road walks, bushwhacks, and setting lots gps way points on Google Earth before starting. All the intel and route finding credit goes to my buddy Scrubrat, a native to the San Diego area who's great grandparents were early settlers in the SD region.

sunrise morning day 2

trashing up the desert

We started late on a Saturday, around 5:30pm at the Sultan Sea and beginning our skirt around the Ocotillo Badlands towards Borrego Springs, and hiking nearly 15 miles into the night before calling it for day 1. After day 2 of skirting the badlands and we made it into the town of Borrego Springs and proceeded to fuel up on greasy foods and a few cold beers. We stealth camped in the empty lot adjacent to the grocery store and had a 4500 ft elevation climb to start day 3. I awoke feeling pretty nauseous, and after a breakfast of biscuits and gravy, wasn't feeling much better. That climb nearly kicked my ass, i was hurting for a good portion of it, trying to drink more water than I needed just to stay hydrated in the unforgiving sun, even though the temps were in the mid 80's. The first 14 miles or so of the day were rough to say the least. Trying to make it up a huge mountain, with a group of 8, trying not to be the weak link, and slow the tribe down, i battled on. after dinner, and once it cooled, we hiked again well into the night, and i finished strong with my buddy Outlaw, hiking at a clip of around 4+ miles an hour to get to the water cache we had set for ourselves before we started. (We cached ourselves 10 gallons of water at 4 different locations before we started the trek.)
ocotillo, thorny as hell
 
Day 4 was a beautiful day, and we were pretty much in the vicninty of the the Pacific Crest Trail all day. In fact, we were so close, Hippie Long Stockings and myself did a little detour off the trail to swing into Stagecoach RV and campground to get some snacks and goodies, then do a road walk to meet back up with the group. I stayed at the Stagecoach during my hike of the PCT in 2012, so it was pretty neat to go back to that place. We rendezvoused back at our 3rd water cache and started our climb up the 3000 foot climb that would put us at a great campsite, the intersection of the SDTCT and the PCT!! I haven't stood in that spot, since day 3 of my PCT adventure, and since then, I have hiked around 3000 miles. So awaking at that spot, with views of amazing mountains like San Jacinto, it was a moving experience, and one of the highlights of my whole trip.
ocotillo bloom

Day 5 began with us making our way to Lake Cuyamaca, and then hitch hiking down into the town of Julian. Julian is regarded as one of the best little towns you can visit while hiking the PCT. In fact it is the first town you have access to and it will not disappoint. It is an amazing and rustic little town that will fill your bellies with good beer, amazing apple pie, and nice town folk. Just another gem in the PCT community. After a half day in town, we got a hitch back to Lake Cuyamaca, and then hiked into the night, down Engineer Rd for a 6 mile, downhill, paved road walk. I think everyone of us were hurting after that walk. Walking on pavement is pretty much the worst. Posting up as a group under a huge oak that is several hundred years old was a great place to stop for the night, it was situated on the Cal-Fire station land at the bottom of the canyon, we had a great spot to camp.
almost to the ocean
sunset in the Anza-Borrego Desert
Leaving early the next day we made it to Cedar Creek Falls, aka Devil's Punchbowl, which is a huge waterfall that ended up being dry and not running. This led us down the trail to the mouth of the San Diego River, which comes from an aquifer and was dry as well. This led us further down  the valley into some Federal Native American Reservation of the Barona Tribe. Sovereign land. We certainly are not welcome to just pass freely. We found ourselves a few miles into their Reservation, and looking for water, we decided to take a dirt road as quickly as we could out of the reservation, up into a housing development where we could just ask some nice people for water. Which is exactly what happend. The first house we came across were understanding and let the entire crew fill up their bottles off their well water. We were able to get a ride that night from one of the guys who was hiking with us, his amazing girlfriend picked us up and escorted us around the next little section to save us from some unwelcoming bushwhack and canyon road walking that very easily could have led to death.

We started the 7th morning near Poway, finally making it into the outskirts of the northern San Diego area. after an early 10 miles, we made it to the Costco in Poway, to stink out the shoppers and feast on their budget menu of huge portion food. It was awesome. A huge slice of pizza and a hotdog, throw in a few cups of pop, and we were back on the trail meandering through San Diego, with all the onlookers wondering what 8 hikers in full packs were doing wandering through SD. We capped the night by hitting a bar that was 1/4 mile off the trail, then Mexican food, then stealth camping in Penasquitos Canyon to make our final push to the ocean on Saturday morning.

this is what its all about. (Doe Eyes and Scrubrat)
 
When we woke up on Saturday morning we were less than 10 miles from the finish. Once again, that sinking feeling that the trip is over consumes my mind. So excited to reach my goal, but equally bummed that now there is no more hiking to be had on this adventure.
Ending a hike at he ocean, however, is about the best way to do. Literally, you cant go any further, without a major fording of the ocean.....
sleepy heads (Cactus & Bloodbank)

agave in the desert
We finished by all jumping in the ocean, even though it was late january, it was 85 degrees and beautfiul as could be at Torrey Pines Beach. A professional golf tournement was going on up the hill, so the Met Life blimp was flying around and the area was packed. It was such a great day.

All said and done, it was another amazing thru-hike experience, that left me wanting more.... I got sick. I threw up. I was cut over and over again by Cholla Cactus, and Agave, and a plethora of plants looking to keep you the hell away from them. I learned a ton about the land, the plants and wildlife. I am so thankful to be part of this community that keeps getting deeper and more loving.

Lucky Me!!


3 comments:

  1. Good job man ! Its funny seeing some of your pictures and recognizing a lot of those areas. I shop at that Costco you ate at and I can just see everyone staring and wondering but no one actually asking what you guys are up to : ) What bar did you guys hit up by Penasquitos Canyon? I was wondering how you guys got around El Cajon Mountain, that trail puts a hurt into your legs.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Aloha Kristo and Crew thank you guys for blazing my trail.I have been wanting to go on this hike for 5yrs. I plan 21 days,at 62 and in no hurry.I will be flying Solo my adult children will support me.All ready done my homework, 6 caches & SAT.phone(they made me). Any info. would be like totally cosmic. Mahalo for giving and ol'guy a chance to do what makes him Happy. I will let know when I start &finish.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. M.R did ya ever do it?!

      Delete