Pacific Crest Trail


By: Joe McCosker



Campo, Calif., October 4. Twelve persons were seen today crawling under the barbed wire fence from Mexico. They have be identified as members of the scruffy Club Sierra gang. Later five of the gang were observed traveling east on the San Diego Arizona Railroad. The rest of the party hid out for a while in the old stone building in Campo and were last seen headed north on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Thus began the 2600 mile hike of the PCT. Led by Joe McCosker and Duane McRuer, the group started at the Mexican border and covered the first 26 miles in two days.

Although books have been written about the "Pacific Crest Trail," much of it still is incomplete and undefined. Funds to complete the entire trail have not yet been provided and in some places rights to cross private property have not been obtained. Anyone interested in doing the PCT should check on the current status of the trail. It is also useful to obtain the 7.5 minute topo maps that have been photorevised to include the PCT. The maps listed below have all been so photorevised.

At the time of our hike the official trail started 3-1/2 miles south of Lake Morena, not the border. Skip Noble, engineer in charge of the section of the trail from the border to Lake Morena, who is with the Cleveland National Forest in San Diego (telephone (619)293-3672) said that that section is scheduled for completion in January 1997.

Lake Morena County Park is a good camping location, about 13 miles from the border the way we went (will be shorter when the PCT is completed) and 13 miles to Cibbets Flat Campground. To go to Lake Morena go east to I-8, approximately 50 miles east Junction of I-5 and I-8. Go south on Buckman Springs Road (S- 5 miles, turn right and continue to the Lake.

Saturday (Campo and Morena Reservoir quadrangles), We shuttled enough cars to take everyone to the border. Drive South to Campo, at the Campo grocery store (drinks and snacks available turn left (south) on Forrest Gate Road (odometer 0.3), take right fork at the dirt road (0.5), turn left where the road ??? and there is a big old tire at the right (1.5), at (2.1) right and there you are locking at Old Mexico. We crawled under the barbed wire fence and took pictures of the group in front of the 100 year old adobe building on the Mexican side of the border.

We parked the cars and started retracing our steps. We followed the dirt road past Ranchos del Campo and del Rey cavalry camps in World War I, Japanese-American detention camp in World War II, and now boys' camps. Five of the party, Betty McRuer, Betty McCosker, Betsy Lutz, and Lee and Art Blauvelt preferred train riding to walking and rode the San Diego Arizona R.R. out of Campo for a 25 mile trip. It is operated by railroad buffs and affords beautiful views of the rocky back country, past Clover Flat, Brown Dog, and Hiller Creek. The railroad is a remnant of San Diego's faded dream of beating Los Angeles to the Eastern markets, a dream that vanished when San Pedro harbor was dredged. It is planned to extend the line through Carrizo Gorge to Imperial Valley. DPSers will recall looking down on this deep gorge from atop Jacumba Peak.

The rest of the group walked back to Campo and then followed Highway 94, Buckman Springs Road (S-1), and Lake Morena Drive back towards Lake Morena. At mileage marker 1.5 we turned on the dirt road that goes west and south to Hauser Canyon, climbed the fence at the end of the settlement there, and had lunch under a grove of oak trees. After lunch we located the start of the PC which climbs about 900', giving a beautiful view of Lake Morena before descending to the campground. We arrived at the campground at 1500, in time for showers, a leisurely dinner, the McRuers' 31st anniversary celebration, and a roaring campfire ably tended by Harry Brumer and Roger Potts. Besides those n??? others toasting the McRuers were Campy, Claude Wezeman, and K??? Brumer.

Sunday (Morena Reservoir, Cameron Corners, and Mt. Laguna quadrangles). The expected 1/2 hour car shuttle to Cibbets Flat Campground took twice that long and we did not leave till 0900 when Wes Shelberg joined us. The PCT continues at the north end of the campground and generally is well marked. In about 1 mile the trail turns right at the big oak tree (look for the PCT marker on the ground or you will miss the turn-off). At 3 1/2 miles the trail meets the bridge at the Buckman Springs Road. Cottonwood Creek was low so we went under the bridge and found the PCT at the north end under the bridge. In the winter it's preferable to cross on the bridge unless you like swimming in mud.

The trail follows a dirt road and then becomes trail again but is well marked to Boulder Oaks (5 1/2 miles from Lake Morena). We passed groves of old oak trees; the area is reminiscent of how California must have looked 100 years ago. John Lutz bought a Pacific Crest Trail T-shirt and the rest of us bought drinks at the Boulder Oaks store.

The trail continues across the street from the store and climbs modestly to Kitchen Creek road. To pick up the trail there it is necessary to walk back down (south) a short way Kitchen Creek road. At that point the PCT starts the climb of the Laguna Mountains, with expansive views to the east of Posts Valley and Antone Canyon. We left the PCT at Fred Canyon Road where we hiked southwest .8 mile to Cibbets Flat Campground and the cars, arriving at Cibbets Flat at 1430.

We have now done the first 1% of the PCT. Come join while we knock off the remaining 99% and see remote mountain, desert, and historical areas of the beautiful Pacific Crest.

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