We got a call last night from a woman who was concerned because her daughter went on a Sierra Club Wilderness Basics backpacking trip. The Wilderness Basics is a course that teaches people how to backpack. The Man and I don't have anything to do with it so we couldn't help the woman. We knew there were three separate groups out there this weekend but we weren't sure where they went and we certainly didn't know which group her daughter was in. The woman was pretty upset with us, but what could we do.
We think that at least one of the groups went to where we were hiking the weekend before, on the Gene Marshall Piedra Blanca trail. If so, we had nearly a foot of rain yesterday and it's likely they could not have crossed the Sespe River to get back to their cars. If it would have been me out there, I would have hiked up the Sespe Trail to see if I could cross further upstream and then hike the highway back to my car, but I'm betting you would not be able to cross there either. So it's likely they got stuck out there for an extra night. A foot of rain in that rugged wilderness and boulders and trees might be coming down the river which might be up to people's chests. I wouldn't even try to cross.
People think oh, it's just California. The PCT hikers especially dismiss Southern California as being easy desert hiking. It's not desert and it's not always easy. The weather here is extreme. Sunshine in winter, yes, but sunshine one day and a foot of rain the next. Those big dry rivers you see? They actually do fill up once in a while. Our mountains are young here. They slide and wash away in storms like the one yesterday. I'm sure that San Jacinto is now completely impossible to hike. We have rain in the forecast for most of the whole week. Good luck Class of 2011.
The woman who called worried that the hikers were lost. Don't they have GPS?, she asked. I am sure they are not lost, just stuck. The Sespe River is one of the last wild rivers in California and I believe it's the only wild river in Southern California. Hooray for a river that prevents people from going back to work on Monday!