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Day 2 – April 5, 2022

Mile 20.0 (Lake Morena) to 32.6 (Cibbets Flat Campground)

12.6 trail miles | 16 tracked miles | 2,320 ft elevation gain | 84 F / 29 °C

Day 2 was a blast. While I hiked only 12.6 trail miles as I’m committed to starting slow and ramping up mileage over time, I still managed to rack up an extra three bonus (off-trail) miles!

I woke up in the morning to a drenched tent—inside and out. Conditions at the Lake Morena campground are infamous for being condensation-prone, and today was no exception. My camp towel came in handy.

After enjoying a light breakfast courtesy of the trail angels who fed us yesterday evening, I headed over to the Malt Shop, a stone’s throw from Lake Morena County Park. My plan was to buy snacks for the day, but the smell of hot food and coffee got the better of me, and I promptly ordered an omelet, for good measure. It turned out to be bigger than my head. Not to be defeated on day two, I turned on hiker trash garbage disposal mode, and ate it all (and that’s before hiker hunger strikes.)

Breakfast at the Malt Shop, Lake Morena Village

With the satisfaction of a job well done—and a full tummy—I resumed my burgeoning northbound adventure. Or so I thought: I inadvertently took a wrong turn out of the campground, and clocked an extra mile or so. I guess maybe I didn’t have enough coffee after all.

Once back on trail, I felt like I had returned to my old stomping grounds, having trained on this section back in October.

I hiked leisurely, and met more thru-hikers on my way. In fact, I might have found a crew already (also known as “tramily”, per the official lingo), which is an incredibly sweet feeling. I genuinely don’t know any other ways besides backpacking to make friends so fast.

A few of us stopped at the Boulder Oaks campground for a snack and good conversation. We took advantage of the faucets to refill our water bottles on this parched section of the trail, and I unpacked my still partially-wet tent and towel to let them soak the sunshine.

I took off a bit ahead of others, and managed to not only get lost inside the campground (pro tip: don’t walk straight ahead on a loop road, or you’ll end back where you started), but also to leave my towel behind. Duh. And thus I earned another bonus mile. The great thing about backpacking is that it keeps you on your toes (almost literally), and you learn everyday. I might be a tad less dumb tomorrow. Maybe.

The highlight of the afternoon was a blissful break at Kitchen Creek, where I met a few more hikers, and even indulged in a short nap.

I was in high spirits all day, and my short experience so far has only reinforced my yearning for adventure and my desire to make it all the way to the northern border.

Tonight, I am camping at Cibbets Flat Campground, where I spent two nights on my desert training hike last October. Located on a .7 mile downhill spur from the PCT (yay for more bonus miles!), it’s a developed campsite with an access road, pit toilets, and running water.

A tasty surprise was awaiting. A friend of a fellow hiker invited us to his RV for burgers and libations! We had a fantastic time relaxing and bonding. I feel extraordinarily fortunate for having experienced two instances of trail magic in two days.

As dusk gently fell on a second blessed day full of memories, I setup my tent, took a spigot “shower”, and prepared to retire for the night. Back in October, I was rocking my Duplex for the first time—and it collapsed on me twice overnight. Hopefully, my pitch has improved somewhat since!

All setup for the night at the Cibbets Flat campground

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