May 19, 2021. Miles 165 to mile 177. The rockslide, 2nd, 3rd rookie mistakes, and more climbs and freezing temps.

Wonderful sunrise to start the day at about 6:30, but it was cold and the clouds kept blowing in mist over the hills.

Felt pretty good, but could not stop thinking about the winds, how would I sleep if no tent and forced to cowboy camp, and of course the rock slide. It was not a day filled with happy thoughts, but the views were epic and the trail not too hard, even with the climbs.

This is the bail out option trail if you don’t want to try the rock slide. It’s at mile 168, so a 4 mile backtrack if I prove chicken.

Fire damage and clouds blowing in dominated today’s hike

This might actually be the chicken trail

And I finally arrive at the rock. I secured my stuff, examine the ropes, and plan and execute my “strategy”. No one anywhere with me to assist. I had planned to secure my pack to the rope and haul it behind me. Not possible with the configuration.

I boldly lifted my “secured” pack up to the ledge and immediately 1 full and 1 empty water bottles fell out and exploded down the cliff. I had 1 brief second where I could have reached for one bottle, but my pack would have been at risk, as well as myself. For a change, caution overruled risk, and I sadly watched the bottles explode, This did seriously reduce my carry capacity, but I had options so all was good. But I do feel bad about failing the “leave no trace” goals.

I then continued (after a few joyful yells), to continue the windy climb (when on the east exposures, where the rockslide was, there were little winds). The west exposures were a different matter.

Other than absolutely failing to secure my bottles, the rock slide itself was pretty easy, especially with the ropes provided by some kind soul. It took less than a minute to complete, and other than the bottles was anticlimactic. But the failure to secure the bottles was rookie mistake 2

I actually had to crawl under that tree. I almost got stuck. There had to be over 70 downed trees across the trail to be snuck under, climbed over, pathed around, and soundly cursed at.

The views remained awesome, but the fire damage from 2013 was everywhere. I climbed the next couple miles, with tough climbs, looking for a tent spot that would survive the winds.

Rookie mistake 3. After reaching the first possible camp site (not desired as it was still 1.5 miles toTauquiz creek, the next vitally needed water spot). I scouted the camp, found it unacceptable, and returned to the trail in search of the next two possible spots before the creek.

In real life this path looked to me to go left. In fact it does, it’s the same PCT path I had just climbed. But I went that way anyway, and cost myself 2 miles and about 500 feet of elevation, before my wind and hiking addled brain figured it out. That 2 hours proved problematic for tomorrow, as I was just too tired, and it was too late and cold to scout ahead of the creek. At about 9k elevation at this point.

These possible tent spots just too exposed and too windy.

Although still exposed, I needed to camp, and pitched it here and roped the tent to the trees. I then left my pack and walked .7 ahead to the creek to scout the situation. I had hoped to fill up at Tauquiz creek and camp a couple miles past the creek, but my mistake made that impossible.

I got to Tauquiz creek and it looked great. Excellent water, and a great wind protected camp spot. So I went back to my tent, unpacked it, and set up next to the creek. Was tired, but thrilled to be at a wind protected water spot to camp.

Coutese joined me later at the camp. We filled and treated our water for a 9 mile carry to the north folk of the San Jacinto river, and we went to sleep, both forgetting that it would likely freeze that night, which would destroy our Sawyer filters if not protected. Rookie mistake 3.

But I was not alone. Several others did the same thing and all had to detour down the difficult Devils Slide trail into Idyllwild to get new filters. I had filter issues in the past so had a brand new spare on me. That saved this part of the trip for certain.

Published by tomconnolly3

Former 270 pound hiking noob is attempting to hike the PCT starting April 8!

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