Day 14 – Wellsprings

May 22
Mission Creek to San Bernadino Camp
Mile 229 – Mile 253.1

Mission Creek wash in morning

Last night was warm enough to sleep uncovered under spectacular star light until well after midnight. I was close enough to the trail to see several headlamps come cruising by late. That’s one good strategy to beat the heat.

Not quite primroses but flowered path nonetheless

My plan again was to rise early and make some miles before the sun took hold. The first 10 miles tracked up the wash of Mission Creek crisscrossing the stream many times. My goal was the headwaters of the creek but it would take all morning to reach. The steep walls on either side blocked the rising sun until about 7 after which we played hide and seek until 8 or so after which I was decidedly found.

Entering San Bernadine National Forest

I entered the San Bernadine National Forest and the good news about climbing higher was that the air was cooler. In the morning I passed quite a few folks I hadn’t seen as yet. One older guy was sitting under a tree waiting for someone to help him shoulder his pack. I don’t know how long he was waiting but I do know he had somehow managed to get himself way the heck out in the wilderness. I doubt I will see him again but I have free legal advice from the California lawyer should the need ever arise.

Mission Spring

Up and up some more, I was back above 8000 feet and had tracked down the wellspring of Mission Creek. The water was cold and delicious so I loaded up for the afternoon. It’s hard to imagine all the water I had been walking past for the last 20 miles came from this humble mountain spring.

For the metrically inclined

On the summits and high ridges when cellular coverage appears possible , I will switch on my phone. Today I was rewarded with a strong signal I think because I had line of sight to a ski area. In any case I used the opportunity to post and call Katrina. Deprivation makes a keen whetstone to sharpen ones gratitude.  After a deep pull from my cherished heart spring, the steep grade and punishing sun fell away. I was home for a brief but delectable moment and back in high spirits I attacked the ups and coasted the downs.


At Mile 250 I saw a grizzly bear! One great oddity on the PCT is the private zoo the trail skirts where I’m told exotic animals are housed and trained for roles in the entertainment industry. The impressive bear was pacing in his pen and I didn’t take a picture because who wants to see that?

Conditions up high are tough on the skin

After dinner the race was on again to see if I could again find coverage to call into family birthday dinner. I made record time up to Onyx Summit but was sorely disappointed. But just as the sun was setting I rounded a corner and there was Big Bear off in the distance and two bars on my phone. It’s hard being out here alone and not able to be with family. I don’t think I’d make it without being able to touch home occasionally. I suppose I would have made a terrible pioneer or even PCT hiker before mobile phones.

Trail couch!

Just as the sun’s dazzling last act of the day was waning, I was ready to camp and there, right on the trail was a couch and large container with food and drinks. Cookies? Soda? Gatorade? It struck me as a perfect place to stop and so I did, sustained and satisfied.

Sunset wow moment

11 Replies to “Day 14 – Wellsprings”

    1. Thx Morgan. It’s threatening to go full wolfman on me here but I am starting to fit in better. We will see how long I can tolerate it.


  1. Totally enjoying reading your accounts John. You have a gift of words that make me feel as if I am there, although I am happy I am not the one hiking the PCT. Thanks for the pictures too. – cousin Heidi in Wisconsin


    1. Thanks Heidi, I’m happy to deliver some PacCrest goodness to y’all up in the Midwest. Enjoy and say hi to your family for me!


  2. The selfie shows some slimming… eat up in Big Bear today! Your descriptions paint a good picture of the wilderness, I didn’t imagine the trail to be so dry and dusty. And it looks like it will be that way for a long time. Thanks for the updates!


    1. Already took down a 3 piece fish and chips with a couple lemonades as my first course. And you’re right, my ribs are starting to stick out. Hard to imagine eating more but agree that it’s essential. Thanks for all your enthusiasm Dave, it helps to have you cheering in my head!


      1. oh, and remember the daily pushups we talked about!! I am doing mine, just add 1 additional one each day… adds up after a while


      2. Yeah, well, those aren’t happening as yet. Way to out me on that 🙃. At the end of the day when all you want to do is get off your feet, it doesn’t occur to get on my hands. I will do some today in solidarity before heading out today though.


  3. John – my name is Tom Behan and I’m Heather Behan Cleary’s dad. I am so enjoying your posts! You write beautifully and we are all blessed to have you share your experience. I have recently added two of my friends and they share my enthusiasm. We watch our emails for your next prose and photos for our vicarious taste.
    Congratulations on your progress to date and press on!


    1. Thanks Tom! Heather and Rona are the best. Congratulations on your fine progeny and glad to have you along.


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