PCT day 20 – San Andreas


Swarthout Canyon (347.2) to Guffy Campground (364.3)

17.1 miles

The night has been rainy but very quiet in regards to wind. I was still lying in my tent listening to the raindrops when it was already daylight. From the canyon road it would be all uphill with chances of thunderstorms and more rain. What a day ahead of me!

I started with a 200-calorie-cookie I had bought at Cajon pass the day before. It wasn’t that good but I needed the calories. Slowly I started packing inside my tent, trying not to disturb George who camped close by. When the rain stopped I took the chance to finish packing. It was around 7:30 when I hit the trail and slowly started climbing up the hills. From 3500ft I had to climb up to 8200ft. Uff!! But I knew that the trail would climb up gently over the next 16 miles and so I settled into climbing mode. Very soon the sun came out and it seemed to be a nice day!

When I checked my maps I read “San Andreas Rift” and realized that I had camped right in the middle of it. From up here on the hillside I had a fantastic view over the San Andreas Valley and I could even see Cajon Pass in the distance. Now I knew from what the funky rocks there came. Looking into the distance towards the geological formations I was as happy as a hiker can be! As I proceeded uphill I tried to suppress the upcoming tears and felt blessed to be here. There was so much beauty in this world and I got to see a good part of it!

Climbing higher the vegetation eventually changed from desert shrubs into more alpine rocks. The side of the mountain I crested along also got steeper. The clouds were hanging deep in the sky. I hoped the rain wouldn’t start on that steep stretch. A few times it started dripping and I quickly got my rain jacket on just to realize a moment later that it wouldn’t start and I got too hot. So off again! This happened around four times in total during the day! During my lunchbreak I could see some trees ahead, just a few more switchbacks. For some reason I wanted to be in trees before whatever storm was coming would start. Once I reached the trees I was relieved. Hiking through them I got some occasional views of Mount Baden-Powell. The summit was still covered in clouds but as I proceeded further they slowly disappeard. The sun came out a little before I entered a windy ridge. It was cloudy again and started to rain. I was in full rain gear when the sun came out again. Crazy weather! It stayed nice all the way to Guffy Campground where I would stay for the night. It is a big campground although not really nice. I went down a steep sidetrail to the spring to get some water. Then it was time to relax, have dinner and write my blogpost. It is close to 7 pm and as it seems tonight will be my first solo camp for this year. Unfortunately at a not so nice campground and at an elevation of 8200 ft. It is already freezing cold and it’s time for me and my electronics to disappear into my sleeping bag!

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