After the noises of merry revelers from the city during the night, we slept in until six. Packing up our gear, the hikers who camped nearby began to leave. Crossing the campground, we then took the Burkhart trail to get us back onto the PCT. With our fingers a little numb from the cold mountain air, we followed the trail down to a large stream, which in hotter parts of the day would be amazing to dip ones feet in. Climbing back out the valley we reached Cooper Canyon Campground, nestled at the bottom of the hill. Restocked on food and water, we began a short climb up to Highway 2, the same highway we had walked last night. Before reaching the top we had to cede the trail to a large troop of scouts. With 15 to 20 boys hiking along, most had packs far larger than themselves, with a variety of sleeping bags and mats hanging off at crazy angles. One boy further back kept repeatedly shouting at the front to slow down, so encumbered was he with gear. After letting the herd go by, we quickly reached the top and clambered down the other side. Soon, we encountered another troop heading in the opposite direction. Going uphill they were not quite as vocal as the previous boys. Hiking to water we passed the 400 mark, having walked it in three and a half weeks. Multiple thru-hikers were filling up at the tap, as the next water was 18 miles descent into desert. Fully laden we trudged down the trail carrying five liters of water. Lunch was in one of the last few shady areas before entering a large burnt section full of poodle dog bush. There we met Rum Monkey, a Canadian from Vancouver who was planning on hiking 35 miles today. He had also holed up in Idyllwild for three days because his blisters were so bad. I sense a connection. Entering the burnt out area we began to lose altitude, and with it the lovely shady pine trees we had walked in for three days. Moving at pace we arrived at our designated mileage early, finding a pleasant campsite at the bottom of a valley just beyond the Sulphur Springs. An easy afternoon was on the cards, and was spent reading and lying down. Dusk brought the sounds of finches, woodpeckers, quail and other forest birds.
Miles hiked – 15