PCT day 19 – Beyond Cajon Pass


Gleghorn Picnic Area (328.1) to Swarthout Canyon (347.2)

19.1 miles

I woke up way too early to wait for our trail angel Fishtank to come back with breakfast. It turned out that I had chosen a very good campsite under the trees and that my tent was nearly dry after last nights drizzle. After packing up I climbed up the unpaved road back to the trail and started descending further towards Cajon Pass. Actually there was a small climb first and with the clouds hanging deep in the sky the scenery looked a bit like Jurassic Park. I was not the only early bird on the trail: Kenan a guy from Colorado had started as well heading for the Best Western at Cajon Pass. I hiked up the switchbacks when I saw a familiar hiker silhouette behind. Smiles must have skipped the potential trail magic at the Cleghorn Picnic area. He caught up when I had stopped to get some water from the last spring before Cajon Pass. We chatted for a while, exchanging plans for the day. Unfortunately Smiles took an easy week with less miles and he wanted to get to Cajon one day later than me. Well, I will see him again in Wrightwood, I am sure!

I hiked on towards Cajon Pass Andree trail eventually dropped down, turning into a more desert like scenery. My friend Gerri came to my mind who was bitten by a rattlesnake short before Cajon. She got a helicopter out and all went well but she had to stay off trail for a while. I could hardly imagine the shock of getting bitten. So I was not unhappy about all the clouds and the drizzle that fell on me – at least it kept the reptiles away! And the cacti like it as well, see…

Just around another corner and I could already hear the horns of the trains blowing. I had read somewhere that Cajon Pass was an Eldorado for train fans. For us hikers the McDonalds on the side of the busy interstate was the goal of today. Arriving at the pass I took the unspectacular road (it’s actually Route 66) to the McD and went into the gas station behind to top up my resupply. Afterwards I went to McDonalds for God’s sake and had some chicken McNuggets with fries and a big coke. I also topped up my water supplies in the bathroom. Sounds gross?? Yes, it is. Kind of.

I checked the maps and decided to hike another five miles to the crossing of a dirt road and a water cache (someone stored some water for us hikers in a place of need). That’s where I am camping now together with George and the chair couple (they carry camp chairs!). Hopefully tomorrow will not bring the thunderstorms mentioned in the weather forecast. Let’s hope for the best! It already starts dripping again…

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