OCTOBER 29, 2015 – Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) @ Vasquez Rocks

Every time I tell friends that I’m going to Vasquez Rocks, they warn me about Gorns. This time I saw my first one, in the dirt parking lot. He was scary looking but exceptionally slow. Even at my normal hiking speed I easily left him hissing away in my dust.
102515_20_gorn
The PCT runs along the lot and continues South.
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I hiked toward the under-freeway tunnel, passing many caches found on previous visits.
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Away from the iconic giant thrusting rock outcroppings, there were no muggles near the equally interesting smaller formations.
102515_04_rocks
Parts of the trail were washed out (from the freak storm in mid October?) and debris covered. The tunnel approach was especially ripped up.
102515_06_tunnel
I walked through along the right edge, because road apples tend to accumulate in the center, and emerged at the old I-beam framework. There’s a cache just off screen to the right: Vasquez Tunnel (GC1AQ03).
102515_07_exit
The South side of the freeway is outside of the park boundary and not as well maintained. Debris covered the trail. I got through by remembering the way from my June 2014 visit.
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It was a relief to see a PCT marker. But then, I went the wrong way (RIGHT) at the fork. d’OH! d’OH! d’OH!
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The trail ahead was in great condition. But it looked unfamiliar and there were no footprints. There should’ve been recent evidence of SOBO (SOuth BOund) PCT thru hikers on their way to the Mexican border.
102515_10_wrong2
Two new PCT caches on my GPSr screen weren’t getting any closer. At 1.5 miles away from the caches the trail headed into a network of powerline service roads. I turned onto a side trail going in the right direction. Soon it became rocky and went steadily uphill.
102515_11_wrong_up
This is the view from the top, looking back across the 14 to Vasquez Rocks. The tunnel exit is a small dot below and just to the right of the largest vehicle on the freeway, 1/3 in from the left side of the picture.
102515_12_top_view
All of the gained elevation was lost on a steep downhill that connected to the PCT less than 400’ from my target cache of the day, Lunchtime! (GC5JQCC). Unfortunately for me I found only a pen and no cache. I sat on a rock, ate a Clif Bar, and looked South. One of those must be the PCT. It’s not realistic at my age (54) and physical ability (middling at best) but I imagined reaching the same spot having hiked NOBO (NOrth BOund) all the way from the Mexican border.
102515_13_PCT_SOBO
I returned to reality and started hiking back toward the tunnel. On the way I found FRZ Cache#13 (GC56CV). Erosion was evident. Hiking here in wet conditions could be treacherous.
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Another part of the trail was partially collapsed into a ravine.
102515_15_washout2Just before the tunnel a REAL PCT SOBO thru hiker sped by. I asked and he yelled back his trail name “Tiger” and confirmed that he was going “all the way” (to the border).
102515_16_tunnel
My goals were accomplished. I’d hiked the PCT beyond my previous trip and found a cache. Additionally I’d hiked an unknown wrong-way connector trail and reached an unexpected summit. There was plenty of remaining daylight for sightseeing on the way back to the parking lot.
102515_17_layers
I wondered how many people camped in the numerous caves in prehistoric times and what they’d think if they could look into their distant future to see me walking by.
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This may be one of them.
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The roundtrip hike was 9.1 miles. Eventually I’m going back to spend the day rock scrambling to find the new caches there that aren’t on the PCT.

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3 Responses to OCTOBER 29, 2015 – Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) @ Vasquez Rocks

  1. qbee37 says:

    Thanks for sharing, Ken. I always enjoy seeing areas I’ve never hiked.

  2. Nice pic. Looks like the side profile of a face. Do you know if it has a name?

    • oldweeb says:

      I only noticed it because a photographer standing there mentioned it to me as I passed. He called it “Indian head.”

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