Home Pacific Crest Trail PCT: Slack Packing

PCT: Slack Packing

by Lisa

Day 4: Desert View Picnic Area to Sunrise Trailhead – 17.2 miles

In the thru-hiker dictionary “slack packing” is a term used to describe hiking part of the trail with a near-empty pack or no pack at all. A hiker might “slack pack” into town for a resupply, leaving most of their gear at a campsite. In other cases hikers might get to “slack pack” a section of trail by having someone drop them off and pick them up that same day. This was the plan for our fourth day hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

Luxurious wilderness accomodations

Dan and I woke up to a large homemade breakfast after a wonderfully comfortable sleep in a king-sized bed. We were up early enough that we even had some time to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee. We did however have 17 miles to hike that day and eventually had to leave the comforts of the cabin.

My father-in-law, Dave, dropped us back where he’d picked us up the day before – near the summit of Mount Laguna. Dan had offered to carry everything we needed in one pack, leaving me free to fly down the trail. In fact, after spending the previous couple days hiking uphill our next couple would be almost all downhill.

First steps on trail

We started our day at 6,000 feet elevation. We would have a very gradual descent all day, ending just under 5,000 feet. It was cool and breezy as we stepped out on trail. The light was a bit flat and muted making the fresh greenery really pop.

From Mount Laguna, the Pacific Crest Trail snakes along the eastern edge of the Laguna Mountains range. We were literally on the edge of the mountain with drop-offs as steep as 4,000 feet. We could see for miles east across the Anza-Borrego Desert and north to the snow-capped summit of San Jacinto Peak.

The day was long but full of visual stimulation. Here’s what it looked like to hike those 17 miles.

Looking out over the vast desert landscape from a 6,000 foot vantage point.
The chaparral of Flathead Flats. The trail continues just below the road in the distance.
A peak looms over Storm Canyon. It’s amazing how much precipitation the Laguna Mountains block from the desert.
A brand new mileage sign. I’m definitely a long way from home!
Beautiful panoramic view from Kwaaymii Point. The not-so-distant Mason Valley is 4,000 feet below.
Dan motoring towards Garnet Mountain.
Looking north to Oriflamme Mountain and beyond – a landscape of green, grey, and red.
The trail looped in and around these rain-softened boulders. Some were bigger than a minivan!
Looking back to Laguna Mountain near the end of our day. Our last few couple miles were teasingly close to Sunset Highway.

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