0 In California (USA)/ Pacific Crest Trail

PCT 2018 Days 1-8

Day 1

Miles: 15.4 Terminus to Hauser Creek.

Health: Feet and shoulders sore.

Currently reading: Station Eleven & Galatians

We flew into San Diego the night before our start and stayed with one of my best friends, Jacqui. She took us to Target to pick up last minute supplies and then we proceeded to have a restless night of sleep.

Arriving at the Southern Terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail was nothing short of surreal. I had seen so many photos and videos of the place and pictured myself there so many times. Now, it was my turn. I thought I’d climb to the top to get and epic starting picture, but decided twisting an ankles before starting the trail would be a bit counterproductive so I decided against it. I looked over at the wall dividing America and Mexico, I sent my Mum a final text, spoke to the PCTA worker, signed the registry, and we were off.

Our starting day couldn’t have been better. It was overcast, cool, and breezy. We put Mexico to our backs and headed towards Canada. The first few miles flew by. Our packs were laden with six liters of water and three days of food. They were heavy.

The views of the desert were beautiful. I’ve always loved the desert and it made me so happy to be in this place.

We saw rabbits, snakes, thorny lizards, and geckos.

Our goal was to make it to Hausser Creek at mile 15.4. We took a longer break at mile 11.4 and contemplated stopping. We decided to press on and the final 4 miles were a challenge.

We finally made it and we’re so tired we couldn’t even interact much with the other hikers. We ate our cold dinner, set up camp, and collapsed. Although, one guy actually recognized me from my YouTube channel! Woohoo! That made my already great day!

Day 2

Miles: 10.6 from Hauser Creek to Boulder Oak Campground

Health: Sore feet and shoulders

I did not sleep well last night. There was a critter outside my tent all night and I was cold, so it was a restless night.

The first few miles were uphill out of a valley and it was a tough climb. We walked a few miles to get into our first town, Lake Mirana. Our shoulders were killing us as we stumbled into the campground. We quickly learned that the water was unsafe due to a high presence of ecoli. Thankfully there was a trail angel who was letting hikers use their RV to get safe water. We filled up a few liters and headed to the shop/restaurant. We got a quick breakfast sandwich and I picked up a few extra snacks. Krisanne brought a bit to much food so she’ll be good for a few more days. We headed back on trail just as they sun started to get high and hot.

The trail is beautiful at this point but photos just don’t do it justice. Every corner offers a different environment from boulders as big as houses to lush green meadows. It’s amazing how it changes from mile to mile.

Our shoulders were really killing us and my feet were really hurting so when we made it to Boulder Oaks we decided to stay and rest our bodies. We made camp with three other guys and sat around a picnic table eating our cold soak concoctions. We plan to have a very early start tomorrow.

Day 3

Miles: 15.5 to Mount Laguna

Health: Ankle is sore

Currently reading: Station Eleven & Galatians

We woke up at 4:15am and stumbled out of camp. I had a mini heart attack thinking I had already lost my gaiters which would have sucked big time in the desert, but they were found.

Hiking in the cool morning is so enjoyable. The sunrise was breathtaking. We gathered water at a place called Kitchen Creek which has to be the prettiest campsite yet. However the entrance involves major scrambling up and down a steep hill.

Krisanne and I don’t really stop for lunches, we just walk throughout the day and snack when we need to. Today was very sunny and quite hot so we probably should have taken a siesta. Instead we found ourselves on a four mile, unprotected stretch. The had miles and miles of rock laden path which is probably how I tweaked my ankle.

We had forgotten it was Saturday (we’ve been out here to long!) and ran into so many day hikers. Honestly, I’ve only ever pictured the PCT in Thru-hike form, so it’s strange to think of people just being out here for a couple of hours. We heard many “Heading to Canada? Good luck!”

I ended up at a snail’s pace only because I didn’t want to hurt my ankle any further. The last leg of the trail was utterly gorgeous. A green forest complete with songbirds and stream. This is what I pictured when I thought of the PCT. Minus the hurt ankle.

At Mount Laguna we camped with some fellow hikers and got to take showers! Granted, there was no soap and our clothing still smells like the wrong side of a horse, but it’s nice to rinse off the muck. We smell BAD. We had dinner at the local restaurant and treated our sore bodies with icy hot.

Day 4

Miles: 11.2 to Pioneer Mail Picnic Area

Health: Feeling pretty good. I had to pop one blister under a toenail. That was gross. Hopefully that’s the only one I get.

Currently (re)reading: The Silver Chair & Galatians

I didn’t sleep well again last night. I was cold and there were a few rather exuberant snorers in camp last night. My ankle was really bothering me so I took an Aleve and tried to sleep it off. In the morning I awoke early and read my Bible under the stars. I like how I can see the stars through my tent at night. We got up and I went to stand in the bathroom for an hour for my electronics to charge. I tried to upload my first vlog and the service just wasn’t having it. Bummer. We walked to the general store to buy a bit of resupply and to get an ankle brace. We grabbed breakfast at the Blue Jay which was so utterly adorable. Everything you expect from a tiny mountain town complete with taxidermy and trees growing through the floors. It reminded me of Disneyland’s western land but this was the real deal. We slowly packed up and left Mount Laguna around 11:30. We heard the winds were going to be 65mph. The hike today was breathtakingly beautiful. We were at a high elevation but could see views all the way down to the desert floor below. Some of the trail had sheer drops, not great for someone afraid of hights. (Which I’m not, btw).

We met a nice couple who does a lot of section hiking. They are waiting for their kids to graduate and move out in a few years so they can take more time off to hike the PCT. They gave us advice and we swapped stories as we took a break from the wind.

I may have gotten my trail name today! Your trail name is the name you are permanently known as on trail. You don’t get to pick it, it is given to you by another hiker due to maybe a personality quirk or a funny thing that happens on trail. Sometimes they’re awesome and sometimes super embarrassing. But whatever it is, that’s how you introduce yourself from then on out. No more Grace. KP and I met a fellow thruhiker named Alex and he liked my gaiters. (They are bright red and shiny and honestly they are bomb, one of my favorite parts of my gear. I got them because they looked like Wonder Woman.) Anyway, he said they looked so much like Dorothy’s red ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. He then started brainstorming trail names and landed on “Oz.” I like it. Simple and relates to a story I love and one of my pieces of gear that makes me smile everyday. I’m also planning to read The Wizard of Oz while on trail. It fits nicely. There’s a bit of time to see if a trail name sticks, but I like it.

We hiked on, getting more and more tired and had our sights set on a picnic area. The next campsite was another 3.5 miles away and we had already done more than we had planned. When we arrived it seemed as though we could not camp there and our hearts sank. We were so tired and sore and it was starting to hit dusk. I said a quick prayer that the Lord would guide us to a campsite nearby. We exited the picnic area and JUST outside one of our trail friends, Scott, was setting up his tent. There was more than enough space for us and we jumped for joy.

We set up our little tents side by side on a ridge, ate a quick dinner, and crawled inside to sleep. The wind is mental. I hope we don’t blow away.

Day 5

Miles: 15.8 to an almost dry water tank.

Health: My hip hurt a bit during the hike today but nothing to bad. I have two small blisters but again, not to bad.

Currently (re)reading: The Silver Chair & Galatians

Today was a doozy. We were up and leaving around 5:30 am. The wind was insane. (There’s a theme here.) it was so intense that we had to use our trekking poles to stand up. The views were magnificent and truly articulated why it is called the Pacific Crest Scenic Trail. The wind kept up all day so it was cold, not cool, cold. I prefer the hot over cold any day.

My hip started to hurt, and KP’s knee was hurting her as well, so we were just surviving. We gathered water for a 17.5 mike dry stretch (including camping) which meant heavier packs. We had our campsite goal.

Once we arrived, however, the wind was so strong we could barely get our tents up. Mine fell over multiple times and I started to have a minor breakdown. I’ve just been so cold the last few days (not a problem I had foreseen for most of the desert) and I just wanted to crawl in my tent and rest. Some of my gear had already broken and I’m so dirty even I am bothered by it. Shout out to Krisanne who stayed cool and collected as I struggled, she even let me swap spots with her because she decided she didn’t need the rain fly to stay warm like I did. She’s a great friend. Thanks, girl.

I know there will be good and bad days, and the bad days are usually followed by some of the best. Here’s hoping tomorrow is wonderful.

Day 6

Miles 8.9 to Scissors Crossing

Health: Feeling good except for one blister

Currently reading: between books, actually

We woke up miserable and cold. It had hit freezing at some point in the night. KP had icicles on her tent. We also had a layer of dust/sand over everything in our tents that had been blown in by the wind through the netting. We begrudgingly rolled out of bed and packed up. Packing up is the worst part of the day. I ate some cold oatmeal and we started out. We knew we had 8.9 miles to go to get to where we would hitchhike into the town of Julian. It was an easy hike today and we both felt good. We got into our first section of true desert, flat and hot. I loved it. I’m waiting for the hot, I’m sick of being cold! There will be enough time to be cold later.

Once we hit Scissor’s Crossing, there was a water cache, although we didn’t need it. We went up to the road for our first hitchhiking experience. Hitchhiking is a requirement for PCT Hikers as you have to get into towns miles away. People expect to see us so it’s not as sketch as it sounds. Luckily, a trail angel named Ghost saw us and picked us and two other hikers up. He told us about poison oak and how to spot a rattlesnake. He gave us a tour of the town and then dropped us off at Carmen’s Restaurant.

Carmen is a trail angel who allows hikers to hang out at her restaurant, gives out one free beer to all hikers, and sleep on the floor for free. Well, all she charges is a hug. We plunked down to charge our electronics and upload videos. She made us mimosas and breakfast burritos while we played with her little puppy, Trigger.

The rest of the day was spent washing clothes and walking around the town. Julian is super cute and very touristy. It used to be a gold mining town and has kept that old west feel.

There is a restaurant called “Mom’s” where, if you show your permit, you get a free slice of pie, scoop of ice cream, and a drink. I got pecan pie, chocolate ice cream, and hot tea.

We went to dinner with a few hiker friends at an Italian restaurant. I couldn’t even finish my salad, my hiker hunger has not kicked in yet.

For sleeping we found a small corner on Carmen’s floor and fell instantly asleep to the hum of a fridge.

Day 7

Miles: 7.3 to campsite at mile 84.5

Health: Feeling pretty good! A bit sore but nothing much.

Currently reading: The Neverending Story (finishing it finally) & Galatians

We woke about 6am and started to clean up Carmen’s restaurant. I slept so well and was so warm! It was lovely. KP and I went to a little coffee shop for breakfast. We each got a bagel, hers with cream cheese mine with Nutella. We also each got a free piece of fruit for being Thru-hikers. I love how hiker friendly this place is. Next we went to resupply in about 2-3 days worth of food it will take us to get to Warner Springs. WS is about 33 miles away but we’re going to do it over 2.5 days. We stalk up on Cliff Bars and instant mash. We made a stop at the Cider House to get a free snack bag (chocolate covered banana chips) and a free cup of their cider. Yum. We had thought initially we would zero in Julian, but after taking 24 hours off, we wanted to hit the trail again. I have decided I need to make some gear improvements as I have been so cold each night and I know it’s just gonna get colder as the hike goes on. I realize that the bag liner I have is made to keep you cool rather than warm, so that has to change. I ordered a Sea to Summit bag liner that is supposed to add a few degrees of warmth. I also have decided that a mattress would probably make a big difference. I chose the Z-lite egg carton pad because of it being cheap, and although I have been plenty comfortable on it, it doesn’t do much in the way of keeping you warm. So I ordered a Therm-A-Rest Xtherm, which is supposed to be a four season mattress. It was expensive and will add a bit of weight, but if it saves my nights, that’s ok with me. We got a ride out of Julian with Ghost again, what a great guy! He comes 40 miles five days a week just to give Thru-hikers a ride and never accepts any money. Our packs were filled with 3.5 liters of water and the first 5 miles was up hill. It was already 11:30ish when we started so it was hot. We had planned on only going maybe 4-5 miles but that turned into seven. We found this great little campsite for two tents right off the trail. It was nestled in a small valley and we had it all to ourselves. Since we camped early we walked around and took lots of photos and video. I had a dinner of instant mash mixed with string cheese, hot sauce, and ruffle chips. We’re praying against wind and rain.Day 8Miles: 16.5 to campsite at mile 101.1Health: After such a rough day I’m amazed at how good I feel. Currently reading: The Neverending Story (finishing it finally) & Galatians Today was mental. Definitely our worst day on trail. We got up in the freezing morning at about 5am. For the the next three miles we were up on a thin piece of the trail on a ridge and were being battered by huge force wind. We had to stop every few minutes to hold on because the winds could have knocked us off the trail. My hands were so cold they went from numb to this tingling sensation I’d never experienced. It was scary in the moment so I threw on an extra pair of socks as I was having my gloves sent to Kennedy Meadows. (Not anymore). We finally made it to a water cashe and filled up enough water to get us 10 miles down the trail. There had been a rumor of a 15% chance of rain, but it was sunny at this point, so no one thought much of it. Well, we quickly gained about 1,000 feet in elevation and that’s when things changed. I got a major energy boost so I ended up far ahead of our group. It was drizzling, but felt pretty good. I stopped to put on my rain gear, just in case, and could see KP and Quickstick way behind me also putting on their rain gear. Right as I reached the top the wind picked up exponentially and the rain turned to sleet and hail. I knew I shouldn’t be up there alone because of the sheer drops on the trail and you ever know about lighting. However, I figured the group may have decided to wait it out , so I was stuck. Thankfully a couple came by and I asked if I could hike near them. We hiked on for 5-7 miles in those horrible conditions. KP finally caught up and while everyone else seemed to find places to hunker down, we just decided to keep pushing and try to get down from the mountain. At one point we paused to brace ourselves against the wind and we looked at each other both realizing that it was actually snowing. So far it has been freezing, wet, and cloudy on this trip. Where is this so called “desert” that everyone gets so nervous about. I want the heat!We finally, finally started to lose elevation. We continued on and officially passed the 100 miles marker! Yay! And then we passed another. And another. And another. People were clearly very zealous about their particular gps’ location of the landmark. We got down to where we were going to camp and collapsed. We had essentially gone about 16 miles with little or no break and little or no stops for food or water. We were spent. We set up camp as other hikers slowly sprinkled into camp. We started a trend as everyone else seemed to decided to set up camp as well. We had some familiar faces such as Jason and Karlie and our two Australian friends. We were all freezing as we ate dinner together. We toyed with lighting a fire but turns out all of Southern California is in a fire ban unless at specific campsites. We all crawled into our tents at about 6:30 and were quite from then on.

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