PCT Continued: Lake Morena to Kitchen Creek

I’m behind in documenting hikes…a couple of Saturdays back, I hiked the section of the Pacific Crest Trail from Lake Morena to Kitchen Creek, including a side trip to Kitchen Creek Falls. It was about 10.5 miles and took us approximately 5 hours with a couple of stops for lunch and exploring falls.

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This hike was beautiful, roaming through a variety of landscapes, from oak-dotted meadows…

 

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That seemed to stretch for miles…

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Into the mountains on either side

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There were wildflowers everywhere of all types…

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Into more desert-like areas…

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This section of the PCT is not particularly difficult…

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The day was warmish in the beginning…I’m sure it’s a bit hellish in the summer.

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We did climb through a few mountainous areas…

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Again with the funky flowers…

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An arch in the rocks…

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And long trails like this…

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My first official viewing of a California Horny Toad…

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which are really lizards…and lots of yucca in bloom…fascinating plants.

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Lots of long vistas with mountains rising in the distance, as we hiked across the valley…

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This butterfly landed on the thistle just as I took the photo…

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The rock structures in the area were strange at times…

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And succulents nestled in rocky cracks

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A long stretch of rocky ground…

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I think turkey vultures were our only bird visitors…

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We were a medium-sized group, about 16 hikers.

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Apparently yucca flowers are edible…

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They are also beautiful.

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This is looking down at the valley from where we came…

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We hiked towards Interstate 8, moving north on the trail.

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The day was beautiful…and that bridge down there on the left in the middle? I think we go under it at some point.

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This section of the trail is fairly well signposted. Here we had traveled 3.5 miles from Lake Morena.

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Some signs are less official-looking…

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Here’s that bridge from below…

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Underneath the bridge, there was some graffiti…this looks like something my students would draw.

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The other side was a bit more acceptable PCT graffiti…

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We crossed what looked like a dry river bed on the other side…

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And another sign showing 2 miles to our lunch spot at Boulder Oaks…

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It was in the high 70s that day, maybe a little warmer…

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At least at the beginning…

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More oaks everywhere…

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These trees are older than my parents, I think…

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More green meadows…

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Some trees had lost their will to stand upright…

 

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I was really tired for this hike; I can only blame jet lag from traveling back to New York (and maybe staying up for 24 hours straight on Thursday).

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We stopped at the campground to eat our official lunch.

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There were cars parked here…and we saw a lot of runners on the next section of the trail. If you just wanted to go to Kitchen Creek Falls, you could leave from here (not sure of the mileage).

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There are gates along the trail…

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This section ran next to and then under Interstate 8…

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We are finally north of the freeway, heading into the Lagunas…

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There’s the 8 going east…

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A rosy boa!

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I’ve never seen one in the wild…

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Manzanita tucked into a rock…

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This section got more up into the mountains, but still wasn’t a difficult hike…

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We were pretty stretched out here…I had wobbly legs for part of this.

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And then the rain cloud started to wander in…

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But looking towards the freeway looks more like summer.

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Hey! It’s my old school…I used to teach out there…Mountain Empire High School (I actually taught at the middle school, which was on the high-school property and is now closed).

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We lined up for a photo…

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Here it is from below…

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Again, that rain cloud is lurking…I think it dropped about 4 drops on us.

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It looks ominous, though. We were trying to find the path off to Kitchen Creek Falls on this section…

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We actually asked for directions and then headed down a hill…

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A slightly steep hill…heading for that section in the middle…

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The falls weren’t particularly large, but they were pretty…

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A snail…Ken kept finding wildlife for me…

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The rocks on the walls surrounding the falls had plants and lichen wedged in between them…

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Water bugs…

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Exploring the falls…

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And some form of squishy freshwater algae (squishiness demonstrated)…

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It was a lovely place to hang out for a bit…

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Different flowers to what was up on the path…

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It had been a while since we’d had rain, so the falls weren’t particularly wild…

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But the rocks surrounding the falls area are certainly interesting.

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Yes, they are perusing an actual paper map…

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This little guy was watching us from up on the hillside…

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More rocks and plants…the weather by now had cooled considerably…

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Cactus blooming…Southern California is an interesting mix of plant life…

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The water colors the rocks.

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While some nap…

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The light was interesting for the last section of the hike…I think the last section was only 2 miles, but it seemed to go on forever…not because it was boring, but because I was tired.

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Somehow I ended up between the speedy hikers and the slow photograph-taking hikers…

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It gave me a chance to quietly walk and take photos…note the lime-green lichens…

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And to focus on some flowers

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Way up in the distance, you can see the speedy hikers. They would occasionally stop and wait for me and make sure the last group was within sight or hearing range, and then they would set off again.

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At some point on most hikes, you just want to get done.

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Although this was still beautiful.

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I had to stop to see the flowers more often…

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See? They’re waiting for me again. My legs? Still tired. Couldn’t keep up with them.

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There’s more of Kitchen Creek…

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And finally! We came out to the end of the trail…this is the group behind me…

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And the last group finally making it out.

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We were dirty and tired, but it was a good hike. Good weather, beautiful landscape and flowers, not particularly difficult (as long as you’ve had enough sleep, I think). I’ve now done 21.5 miles of the PCT…only 2,628.5 miles to go! Or something like that. We did shuttle cars for this trip so we could hike through the whole section and not double back. The section we’re doing in a couple weeks will be north of this…and I think I’ve already done part of it over 10 years ago, right after the fires went through that area.

 

One thought on “PCT Continued: Lake Morena to Kitchen Creek

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