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PCT Day 7: From Julian to Cacti

After sleeping in, taking more showers, and enjoying the Julian Hotel’s “two course breakfast” (house-made granola and waffles with fruit), we ventured back out onto Julian’s main street, where it was a hiker reunion every ten feet or so — Kara and Allie, Hannes and Julia, lots of people we hadn’t seen in a few days.

We got a ride back to Scissors Crossing with the cook/owner of the Julian Cafe, a badass lady who shared tips for keeping snakes out of your pack/sleeping bag (circle a length of rope on the ground around it—then she insisted that Hannes take about two pounds of rope).

In some respects, the line between thru-hikers and homeless people is demarcated solely by 900 fill down and carbon fiber tent poles. Because there we were, post-hitch-hiking, napping in the dust under the Highway 78 overpass for a few hours, waiting out the midday heat. Two fighter jets swept by at one point, flying low.

We were waiting for it to cool down because from Scissors Crossing you look up and see the next section of trail switchbacking up about one thousand feet of sandy mountainside. I was expecting it to be a miserable slog, but it was actually my favorite section of trail so far because it wound through the most spectacular cacti I’ve ever seen.


The hillsides were a Dr Seuss wonderland of cacti. I’ve never seen so many different kinds, so densely packed, covering so much area. It was—and I don’t use this term lightly—amazeballs.



The wind was blowing fiercely the whole way up, but the trail continued to be beautiful, snaking up along the hillsides as the sun sunk lower in the sky. We found a site partially sheltered from the wind (next to the Germans, Hannes and Julia) and decided to try our first night of cowboy camping, which is sleeping out under the stars without a tent. We haven’t done this before because someone who shall remain nameless has a bit of a bug phobia, but there was no sign of bugs and no chance of rain, so we went for it.


Lying warm in a sleeping bag, looking up at a night sky filled with stars, watching a satellite glide by—it’s not a bad way to fall asleep.

5.8 miles hiked, Mile 77.4 to 83.2 windy tent site

2 comment on “PCT Day 7: From Julian to Cacti

  • Diette
    2015-04-16 | 10:31 PM

    Amazeballs? Lol. Hard to disagree with you, though. So cool!

    What’s the day to night temperature swing? And I’ve never fallen asleep like that, but you make me want to add it to my life’s to do list.

    Rock on, Clare!

    • Clare
      2015-04-18 | 12:54 PM

      Daytime temps have been 60s to 70s, and nighttime down to 30s and 40s… Out here, even 75 can feel super hot while walking in the sun!

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