The Trek Begins: Daily Journal Week 1

Day 1 (28/03/2018): Southern Terminus to Lake Morena (20 miles)

After an extremely restless night of sleep culminating in a 3:45am wake up time, I started off the morning with a pot of strong cowboy inspired coffee (really I just spilled coffee grounds under the filter). Alex, Mom, and myself then piled into the car and drove the one hour or so of windy desert roads to the Mexican border. Once we arrived at the wall and southern terminus we took our photos and embarked upon the longest trek I’ve ever attempted. The beginning of the trail was very well maintained as well as filled with anxious PCT’ers rearing and ready to go. At lunch I found a big boulder that had just enough shade so that we could all sit around and relax for a bit. Rob decided to stop for the day just after mile 11, and since there were no water sources until Lake Morena… I decided to go to Lake Morena. Beautiful views on the hike over. Steep ascent and descent from Hauser Creek offered some really great views of the valley. I think my shoes may be too tight, as it seems I’ve now got blisters to deal with. Great way to start off (not). Jake summed it up nicely as he walked into the campground and just said “that was fucked up”. Tomorrow will be much shorter I think.

Day 2 (29/03/2018): Lake Morena to Fred Canyon Tentsite at Mile 32 (12 Miles)

Got a super late start on the trail in an attempt to let Rob catch up today. That did not work. I should’ve just left earlier. Waiting at Oak Shores Malt Shop for an hour to get a breakfast burrito wasn’t a great idea either. It was extremely tasty though! Twelve miles hiking isn’t ideal, but it’s better than nothing. Impromptu trail magic at Boulder Oaks Campground was really nice! Slice of pizza and a beer, Steve is awesome for hooking us up. That was the last time I saw Alex and Jake today too. We were supposed to meet at this campsite but they obviously didn’t make it. Early to bed tonight. Gonna try and cruise some morning miles before it gets too hot tomorrow.

Day 3 (30/03/2018): Fred Canyon Tentsite to Water Spigot at Mile 48.7 (16.7 Miles)

Didn’t see Alex and Jake all day today. I think they stopped for the night near Burnt Rancheria campsite about 6.6 miles back. I only saw a few PCT hikers today actually. Less than ten I’d say. The views really opened up after leaving the water fountain at Burnt Rancheria. Awesome overlook of the Sawtooth Range and expansive desert beyond. It is very dry here and the water is scarce, but the beauty of this place is something to behold.

Day 4 (31/03/2018): Water Spigot to Dirt Road and Water Tank at Mile 68.4 (19.7 miles)

Beautiful calm, cold, and cruisey morning. As soon as I entered Pioneer Mail Picnic Area I found the first trail magic of the day with a Pale Ale from a San Diego craft brewery. Then a few miles down at my lunch break I met Raymond and Kim at Sunrise Trailhead who had set up a tent to escape the sun and chat with hikers. They were there for a moonlight hike with Raymond’s Geology class. Hiking at night in the desert seems like an interesting experience. Then for the third time today, more trail magic! I got a couple ice cold Coors Lights from Blake and Anthony who were out spelunking in the foothills, followed up closely by Ian and his vlogging crew with burgers for dinner. This trail is incredible so far! The views were pretty alright today as well. Looking down into the Anza Borrega desert really gives you a sense of scale. Just before and after Garnet Peak were the pinnacle desert views of the trip so far.

Day 5 (01/04/2018): Easter Sunday: Dirt Road and Water Tank to Scissors Crossing at Mile 77.3 (8.7 miles)

The day began beautifully with a banana from trail angel Ian and lovely views looking down into the desert valley. Easy downhill hiking followed and when I got to the overpass at Scissors Crossing where everyone hitches into Julian from, I met “Masshole” and a couple other hikers partaking in some trail magic. Masshole had cooked up a big breakfast skillet at his built out van which was delicious! After that, “Ghost” gave us a ride into town and showed us around before dropping us off at Carmen’s where I’m now writing this from. She’s an amazingly hospitable woman who allows us thru hikers to stay over at her restaurant in exchange for a little help around the place to clean up at night and in the morning. Couple of free beers here and some good banter makes it all worth it! Unfortunately this is the last year that Carmen will be hosting hikers as she’s just sold the restaurant. Good luck on the Camino de Santiago Carmen!

Day 6 (02/04/2018): First Zero day (0 miles)

Chilled in Julian all morning. Ate some “Mom’s Pies” boysenberry pie with vanilla ice cream. It was delicious. Followed up with Carmen’s breakfast burrito, which was massive and honestly the best breakfast burrito I’ve ever had. Got some food for the next two days of hiking to Warner Springs as well as some beer and whiskey. In the afternoon I waited under the bridge at Scissors Crossing and met Rob, Alex, and Jake who I hadn’t seen in about three days. Full homeless party under the bridge at night.

Day 7 (03/04/2018): Scissors Crossing to Third Gate water cache at mile 91.1 (14 miles)

After a fun night of drinking and taking photos with fellow hikers I woke up to the howling wind at 5am and decided to just hike out. Gorgeous views this morning on the way to the water cache at third gate. The desert is very pretty in a really strange, almost otherworldly kind of way. The type of plants and animals living here are purpose built for this rugged environment. I arrived at the cache just after noon and sat around in the shade relaxing and waiting on the crew to arrive. They arrived at 6pm. Alex brought a 16oz IPA to camp for me tonight. Legend!!!

 

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Definitely close to Mexico
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Trail Angel “Steve”

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Better stay on trail!
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Near Mt. Laguna
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Trail Magic Beers!
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Spelunkers “Blake” and “Anthony” along with Doug “Flash” on the right
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“Flash”, “Ian”, and crew
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“Bacon” on the left, “Masshole” on the right underneath Scissors Crossing Bridge
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Jake “Beezus”, Alex “Fogey”, and “G” under Scissors Crossing getting ready for a homeless party
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“G” cheers to the sunset!
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Alex “Fogey” wandering off into the Socal Desert
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Raven at dusk

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Tentsite at Third Gate water cache

Here’s a link to the next week’s journal!

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