Sunday, March 14, 2021

PCT Day 10: Angel Mary's Oasis to State Highway 74 (Mile 145.4-151.9)

March 14, 2021
Angel Mary's Oasis to Higway 74
Mile 145.4-151.9
2:33 (moving) / 3:29 (total)
Max 5,112 feet (+1,237 / -702)
See Day 10 Section on YouTube

Pacific Crest Trail – Day 10

After 9 long days on the PCT the shortest hike was a 10 miles on Day 6 which was part of a two day backpack with a full pack and two day total of nearly 24 miles. Day 7 was also similar with 10.3 miles so Day 10 should feel like a walk in the park as it’s our shortest segment, only 6.5 miles, since we began our PCT adventure. As always logistics for a point to point hike is always a challenge and this trailhead is a solid 2 hour drive each way, but because it’s only about a 3 hour hike instead of spending the night nearby to get an early start we were able to drive from home for the first time. Little did we know that 4+ hours in the car plus the 3+ hour hike also makes for a long day! The good news is the time just changed spring forward so we had an extra hour of daylight at night, the bad news is we also lost an hour of sleep and had to get up an hour earlier.

Day 9 our hike ended at Angel Mary’s Oasis so we had figured out how to get to the start of Day 10’s hike and this time the end of the hike was at the intersection of Hwy-74 which is easy to find just east of intersection where Paradise Valley Café is located. On March 8th six days before our planned hike I emailed Angel Mary to ask for permission to park in front of her house and like two weeks earlier she gave us permission but warned of a major winter storm hitting the area beginning the evening of March 9th with snow line anticipated 3,000 and Mary’s Oasis is about 4,200ft. A day later pictures were posted on her blog of the picnic table and the whole area blanketed in snow. More snow came Friday the 12th, but immediately melted. She thought we might encounter nothing more than a few inches of snow on north facing slopes, possibly icy in the morning, but none are dangerous. Even if you slip there is vegetation to catch you and prevent a slide. She also touted the views we would see of Horse Canyon, Santa Rosa, and Toro Peaks to the east and about mid-point. Also she suggests rewarding yourself afterwards with a meal at Paradise Valley Café.

I’m now in constant contact with our new hiking friend Oobrianoo and he was a little squeamish about snow on the trail and started suggesting an alternate section of the PCT to hike, but we agreed to wait till Saturday and see what the weather looked like. I was hoping we would finally get a chance for Mai and Oobrianoo to use their new micro-spikes, however, the weather warmed up and most of the snow would melt before our hike Sunday. One last call on Saturday to Paradise Valley Café to see if I could get an idea of road/trail conditions and they assured me that at least south of I-74, the section we had planned, all good…should be clear.

With the time change and an hour less of sleep it seemed like a 10:30 meeting time would work for everyone. This time Oobrianoo would stop on his way up from Chula Vista in Temecula and pick up his friend Marty which would make a four-some on the trail. Our meeting location would be at Paradise Valley Café about 2 hours away for each of us. We followed Google Maps which took us a whole new way into Hemet and then from Hemet on I-74 was familiar road because we had just taken that route a month ago on a scenic way on our way to Joshua Tree. We would arrive a few minutes early so had a chance to walk thru the café and make a pit stop. They arrived a few minutes later and we followed each other to the end of the trailhead where we could park right along the highway and later learned there was a dirt parking lot just north of the Hwy.

This time we had Juno and another dog, a Beagle, who would also join us on the trail. We loaded the pets up in the back of the Honda Pilot and jumped in ourselves for the only 15 minute drive to Angel Mary’s Oasis. I was now after 11 and already warming up. We barely needed a light wind breaker and would heat up on the trail and wouldn’t even need that. From the car to the trail was about ¼ mile walk from the road and when we arrived we found Frier Paul already had arrived from the trail heading northbound just like us. We found out he had started March 1st from the border and was making a pilgrimage all the way to Canada. He was on the trail for both of the storms on Tues/Wed as well as Friday and said it they were pretty brutal. His pack seemed very light for all of the gear he would need for his trek. He offered all a gift of a rubber bracelet with his website He also started his own blog of his travels

Frier Paul was probably going to rest and grab some water, but it was a short time later he would catch the four of us on the trail again. We signed the guest registry for a second time, snapped a couple photos and started our hike for the day. Already we saw our first hiker before we even started, so how many more would we see on this mostly sunny day right after a storm? They 6.5 mile like had two separate high points. About 1.6 miles into the hike we made it to the first high point almost 5,000 feet and there were some small snow patches still along the trail and then for another 1.5 miles we descended a valley. As we started hiking out of the valley which the half mile climb was the steepest of the day and we already saw Frier Paul heading down the decline we had just came down and would soon catch us.

We got to spend some more time leaning about Frier Paul and his journey. He would pull off the trail early to make camp for the night and we would say our goodbyes. He warned of his friend, an ultra runner tried the PCT a year or so ago and started out averaging 20 miles a day an burned out and dropped out, so he was taking it conservatively. Our 2nd climb took us all the way up to about 5,100 feet and the most snow on the trail. Someone even made a little snowman right in the middle of the trail. We had one last downhill section to the car and ran into another couple heading southbound so made for the day total of only 3 hikers in only 6.5 miles.

Mary was correct, the trail was magnificent and did not disappoint. There were some great views along the way and as always every turn some new scenery. Marty survived his first hike with us and I think enjoyed the challenge. Also OoBrianoo had a friend to talk to so Mai and I got to spend a little more time in our own conversations. We greatly enjoyed the day and now for the last 4 sections in a row we didn’t have to drive two cars from Los Angels which is a big plus.

We loaded up the VW Golf and made the 15 minute drive back to the first car. It was interesting the gps took us one route to Paradise Valley Café, but for the way home starting just a couple miles away it routed us back thru Temecula on the way home. We didn’t stop to eat lunch on the trail so we had the lunch we packed on the drive home. It was nice to drive home in the daylight and take in the scenery all the way home.

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