20 Mar, 2020

Day 4 – Hikers get off trail

Written by: Russ

South Downs Way

Distance:

miles

Time:

hours

Elevation gain:

feet

Day 4 route overview

The route on day 4 of the PCT brings you around more winding trail through the vast desert. The shrubs either side of the trail all but disappear and views across the landscape creep into view. The entire route down to scissors crossing is then carved into the side of a mountain which you’ll follow the contours of all the way down into the basin which then flattens out near the road.

Elevation

While the ascent is over, the long and gradual descent into the desert floor is a bit of a knee-killer. As the trail winds around the side of the mountains it’s still gradual enough to keep pace.

Over the M3

My first proper sunrise

I woke in the morning to no wind, no rain and no snow. Just the sound of birds chirping in the bushes and a faint trickle of melting snow from the branches. When I opened the storm door of my tent I was greeted with my first sunrise morning on the trail. It was glorious.

Over the M3

Heading off swiftly

I wanted to head off as soon as possible to catch the most of the good weather should it fade back into a whiteout, so I packed up camp and continued along the trail which was still covered in snow and ice. Today, after three days of absolute dog sh*t weather I was hiking with incredible views for miles and the warmth of the sun hugged the backs of my knees which were quite red and burnt after being pelted with hail the day before.

Over the M3
Over the M3

The bad news

In the back of my mind for the last few days, I’d had a slight, nagging feeling that the trail could be closed due to COVID-19. Up until now, the trail was still wide open and there were no issues with hikers walking across the country. Made it just 8 miles north today before bumping into a fellow hiker named Bob. He was packing up his camp as he continued to ask “have you read the news? You’re not going to like it.” With a deep, gut-wrenching feeling I turned into an anxious mess. I knew what it was. That faint concern I had for the last few days turned into reality.

The PCTA issued a statement requesting all hikers with a long-distance permit to “cancel or postpone their hike”. For me, I knew it was the end of the trail for another year. I made the decision to make my way to Julian, the next town on the route and make plans to get up to LA and get on a flight home.

The miles which followed were the saddest miles of my life and I vowed to enjoy the last 10 miles to Scissors Crossing.

My decisions that followed had me concerned for my own safety, that of other hikers and of the town’s folk along the PCT.

Over the M3

Gallery

Overview

  • Views and vista 90% 90%
  • Difficulty 50% 50%
  • Elevation gain 40% 40%

Start time:

06:00

Camp time:

14:00

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