We slept in (until 7am) this morning and descended two miles down to Mt. Laguna Lodge. The general store and post office did not open until 9am, so we made use of the facilities at the visitors center. Apricots sat at the far end of the parking lot. Casually perched upon her z-rest sleeping pad, she hunkered over an empty milk jug cut in half. At the last minute, I decided to add half a gallon jug to our gear to serve this purpose. She sat there washing clothes in the bottom half of the jug. Meanwhile, I ran water bottles to her, and rinsed out the clothing. We laid all our clothes out on on the wheel-stops in the parking lot, to take in the sun (our own ultra-lightweight dryer).
By the time we were finished, the store had just opened. We walked up there and began our three hour rest, relax, and dine time. Tasty breakfast burritos, oranges, and tomato juice accompanied our obvious morning coffee. We have weened ourselves off of caffeine, so that we don't need/want it while hiking, but that does not mean we don't want to enjoy it when we can have it. After walking our first leg, we realized we were somewhat short on snack food items, so we bought a bit of food to complement our standard resupply box.
As we enjoyed our morning meal, with peanut butter cup desserts, other hikers ambled about arriving and going about similar tasks. While "grazing" on the porch of the Mt. Laguna Lodge (which has 3 large yellow signs that say "No Loitering"), we talked with other hikers. Jackass & Molasses were there, as well as Terrapin Flyer & Granite, and Fidget & Riffraff. After we had our fill, we sorted through all our food, packed up, and went back to the trail.
As opposed to yesterday, most of todays walkin was gradual downhill. Easy going, with amazing views out into the Anza-Borrego Desert, and Cottonwood Canyon. The PCT followed the contours gently downhill, roughly paralleling the Sunset Highway.
Late in the evening we arrived at Pioneer Mail campground. The water source there is labeled as non-potable, so we were happy to find that some Trail Angel had left four gallons of water for thru-hikers. After Apricots and I had taken our fill of water, day hikers and bicyclists were returning to their parked cars. I approached some of them to ask for water. We refilled the water I had taken from the cache, leaving water for the hikers behind us.
Early evening, we began our ascent up Garnet Mountain, along an old unpaved section of the Sunset Highway. The views were spectacular, and it would have been nice to take them all in while relaxing, but we had about an hour left of daylight and a couple miles yet to go. Eventually, we arrived at a tiny flat-ish spat (which serves as a campground for us) just as the sun was setting.
At 56 miles in, Apricots now exceeds her previous "longest hike" by several miles, and we are approximately two percent done with the entire trail. At this point, we have hiked through the desert a distance roughly the equivalent of running a half-marathon, four days in a row.