Hello from Warner Springs! I just finished hiking the first 109 miles of the PCT and it has been AWESOME. I have come to a few quick conclusions. First, hiking 20 miles (on average) a day is challenging but can be fun. Second, keeping my blog updated is going to be a bit more challenging then I originally anticipated. I am not giving up though, I just wanted you all to understand that the posts will probably be once a week, maybe a bit less frequently, it all depends on when I have access to a computer. I AM keeping a daily journal so that I can remember everything I want to write about on here – basically daily notes to jog my memory and help me write for all of you. So here it goes.
Day one. Go time. Time to start the hike, the journey that I have been looking forward to for roughly 6 months. All the planning and research and hours spent on the internet and reading books culminates in this moment where I find myself standing next to some white wooden posts in front of a rusty fence in the desert. To be clear, this is the boarder fence, protecting our (once) great nation. Maybe it still is great, right now I’m not sure but hopefully I’ll find the answer. I mean, one would assume that walking across 2600+ miles would give me a good idea.
t’s easy to lose faith. Just turn on the television or read the newspaper. Endless piles of bullshit in all directions. But I know there are amazing places and amazing people – they’re out there. So enough of MY bullshit. Here is what has happened so far.
4/11 Day 1 – Mexican Boarder to Lake Morena – 20 miles
I’ve finally started the quest. The days leading up to today have felt a bit tedious. I’ve been so close, just waiting to jump off.
And just like that, Dad and Susan were taking my photo, immortalizing this moment in time when I began what was once just an idea. I’m kind of at a loss for words – shocked that I have begun. A small part of me knows that there is always a chance that I will not successfully make it to Canada. At this moment though, I’m ecstatic to have life simplified to the point of ‘one foot in front of the other’.
The weather today was quite nice – felt no warmer then 80’s. Also looking forward to a cooling trend. There was a little breeze most of the day.
Rolling terrain crossed train tracks and a small creek before climbing to a sort of mesa with evidence of recent fire and lots of wildflowers.
I met and hiked with multiple thru-hikers including Jonata (sp?), Brendan, George, Sunbeam, Meredith, Wilderness Bob and Lucky.
Big climb of the day involved descending to Hauser Creek and then climbing Morena Butte.
Climbed a knobby boulder before rolling into Morena Lake campground. We received soda from other thru-hikers who will be starting tomorrow.
Tired and sore but very happy to be here and looking forward to whatever tomorrow brings.
4/12 Day 2 – Lake Morena CG to Mile 40 – 20 miles
Another day completed. After a cold night, everyone awoke to uber condensation on inner tent walls. The morning was typical – I cooked up a cup of cheesy grits and coffee.
Some folks left camp before the sun crested the surrounding mountains. A veil of clouds hung low in the valley.
I was ready before the folks I hiked with on day 1 and I decided to hit the trail solo.
I met many other hikers today including the Israeli couple, Roi and Sarah. Also met Birdman, Christian, Butters – I think that’s it.
It’s likely that I’ll take a shorter day tomorrow and kill some time in Mount Laguna.
Tonight I’m cowboy’d up just south of Burnt Rancheria campground in a beautiful stand of pines with a grass understory. Tired. Food. More tomorrow!
4/13 Day 3 – Mile 40 to Pioneer Mail Picnic Area – 12.6 miles
After a beautiful & calm night sleeping beneath the stately pines, I woke at 6:45 to song birds. After two twenty mile days back to back, I knew today should be a bit mellower.
I had a very leisurely morning – peanut butter bagel and coffee were enjoyed from the warmth of my sleeping bag. When I finally rallied it was around 8:30 and I only had about two miles into Mount LAguna. This little (LITTLE, less then 500 people) town is right off the trail and offers the thru-hiker many goodies.
I’m not craving huge greasy hamburgers yet so I opted out of either restaurant. I did however stop into the gear shop which is run by Dave ‘Super’. I swapped out my aluminum tent stakes for titanium and also got a 2 liter bladder, tyvek ground cloth, and a bottle for cooking oil.
Super gave me a shakedown and helped me shave a few ounces off my pack weight.
While talking with Super, Roi showed up and I returned his trowel which I found on the trail yesterday.
I spent another hour in town at the general store where I enjoyed a banana and root beer. And Super bestowed upon me the trail name ‘Cheetah’. I like it!
Hot hiking led to a few shady rests. Views of the desert floor, Mt. Laguna observatory, and Garnet peak were superb.
Tonight dinner was cheesy pesto tortellini followed by hot chocolate.
4/14/2014 Day 4 – Pioneer Mail Picnic Area to Scissors Crossing – 24.4 miles *lunar eclipse
What’s with all the 4’s? Very strange – and a lunar eclipse to top it off.,,I don’t know.
So today, biggest hiking day of my life and I survived. 24.4 miles was brutal on the feet but perseverance paid off.
I woke up at Pioneer Mail early enough to catch the sunrise, beauty. Bagel and PB for breakfast and coffee was a nice way to get the day started. The horde of local woodpeckers kept me company while I packed up.
An early start made the first miles a breeze. I ran into X-ray at the Sunrise Trailhead while getting water. I also crossed paths with a couple young CA state park trail guys who were hard at work taking a union…haha.
The trail meandered before descending into Mason Valley. There I met Kit, Backup, Coach, First Class, Mike and Amanda. Snack and then some saywer squeezing before climbing again – yeah! The views and nice breeze returned.
I passed everyone and saw amazing cactus blooms on the ridge top. I eventually descended into Rodriguez canyon and caught up to Roi and Sarah at the fire tank. They convinced me to continue to Scissors crossings.
Descending from Rodriguez canyon was AWESOME. Real desert – cacti everywhere. The heat increased. Cacti blooms, sandy washes, other-worldly.
Trudged to Scissors and met Evil Goat, Blake, Seamus. Roi and Evil Goat played strings while we drank tecate thanks to trail angel Houdini. Fun stories were shared. Now bed, exhausted!
4/15 Day 5 – Scissors Crossing to Barrel Spring – 24.1 miles
Another 20+ mile day. Woke up early to the sound of traffic on the highway, time to get going.
Although I was last out of camp, I moved fast up into the hills. BIG barrel cactus everywhere as well as Ocotillo. Endless climbing resulted in nice views and a breeze.
Leap frogged with Roi and Sarah, Turkey Feather, Blake, Bilbo, and Seamus. Everyone met up at 3rd gate water cache for a siesta.
Another 9 miles got us to mile 100! Passed Billy Goat’s cave at mile 96 and counted to 1000 before siesta (earlier in the day).
Saw poison oak! Look out. Camping with whole gang at Barrel. Evil Goat is playing fiddle in the woods near by. Great, long day – tomorrow leads to relaxation!
ps saw two snakes
pps got scared by a bird
4/16 Day 6 – Barrel Spring to Warner Springs – 8 miles
Short morning of hiking. Only 8 miles from Barrel spring into Warner. I hiked with Blake and we shared life stories. The miles breezed by and before we knew it, we were at Eagle rock.
We took photos and hung out with Evil Goat and Santa’s Helper. Green, rolling fields stretched out in every direction.
Three more miles of hiking got us to Warner Springs where we ate double cheese burgers at the resource center – a thru-hiker mecca. They also have a small resupply store, ice cream, showers, laundry, etc.
Instead of staying there we called Warner Springs Monty, a trail angel near by. He wisked us away to the post office to get resupply boxes, and then onto his house where he cooked us amazing bar-b-q chicken sandwiches. Desert was ice cream sundaes.
Tomorrow will be a true zero day. After having a shower, washing my clothing, and having good food and beer in my belly, life is good!