We’ve been working tirelessly to plan, prep and pack everything we will need for our Pacific Crest Adventure. But, let’s face it, you can only plan just so much. We will not compare our AT thru hike to the Pacific Crest Trail hike. The one thing that does remain the same is that this is not about getting to the finish line, it’s about every step we take together along the way.
It was sad, as always, to say goodbye again to friends and family again. After two months we’ve spoiled them with our presence. We will miss them, but we have some stuff to do that requires leaving the Island again.
We stayed up till 3am packing and going over all our lists of lists. Dion’s amazing parents woke up at 5 this morning to drive us to our 9am flight out of JFK. We said our last goodbyes and headed off for our next adventure.
The flight was 6 hours, then a 40 minute bus ride to the train, followed by a three hour train ride. Although it was a lot of traveling I would do it exactly the same way again. We were able to see a bit of California and for the first time ever the Pacific Ocean, from the train. Buddy loved all the travel, took a few naps and ate his weight in snacks throughout the trek.
We were picked up from the San Diego Train station by the wonderful trail angels Scout and Frodo. They pick PCT hikers up from the train station or the airport and bring them back to their house and welcome them as guests for the night. Since we’ve traveled all day long we are going to stay here the night and beginning the trail on Saturday morning.
We spent all day on Friday making sure we had everything we needed and packing our packs. I woke up at 4:30o on Saturday morning, the excitement of hittingo the trail would not let me sleep another minute. At 6 o’clock there were 4 cars out front ready to take the 20 hikers that had accumulated at Frodo and Scouts over the past two days. The incredible generosity of trail angels never ceases to amaze me. We all piled in and took the hour drive from San Diego down to Campo.
Getting to the monument was epic for us. We’ve talked about doing the PCT from the minute we decided to do the AT a year and a half ago and now here we are. Everyone else that we arrived with planned to hike 20 miles to Lake Morena, very ambitious for some who have never hiked before. We hike our own hike no matter what. When we set off it was chilly and windy, perfect hiking weather for this section. Before we set off I weighed our packs, both of our base weights are about 12 pounds but after loading up the food and water Dion’s pack is 36 pounds and mine is 38. That includes 6 days of food for three people and 14 liters of water.
We haven’t slept much the past few days and the exhaustion mixed with altitude hit us hard and fast after only three miles. Dion spotted a great campsite on the side of the trail so we pulled off, set up our tent and took a nap. When’s the last time you took a nap? For us it’s been a long time and this nap was GLORIOUS, exactly what we needed. We woke up around 2pm and hiked about 5 mikes before stopping again. We found a perfect spot atop our first climb to set up camp. Although I wanted to do so many things our first night out, we were all asleep again by 7.
We awoke the next morning feeling well rested but sore. After two months on the couch in NY we need to build our muscles back up! We also need to acclimate to the altitude, no matter how long that takes. We packed up and were on the way by 8am with a plan to hike 11 miles to Lake Morena campsite. The first half of the day was great, not too hot and not too hard. After 6 miles it was mid-day and the heat was relentless! None of us have ever hiked in the desert before and although we had an idea of what it would be like, you don’t REALLY know until you’re out there with a 40 pound pack with the sun beating down! Before we began our last climb of the day we came upon a water cache at Hauser Creek which came at the perfect time because until then we hadn’t passed any water at all and we were down to 2 liters. We cameled up and packed out a few liters to get us over the next climb and into town. This climb was long and hot for us even with our umbrellas up, we had a tough time and had to stop every few minutes to catch our breath. When we finally reached the top we stopped for a few minutes to rehydrate and take our shoes off. Buddy fell asleep again, so we stopped and waited until he was ready to get up. About half an hour later we were on our way again and finishing up the last two miles.
We made it to our first trail town, Lake Morena! We headed straight down the road to the little restaurant/grocery store and ate cheeseburgers and ice cream like we’ve never eaten before. It was amazing. While we were eating the front door opened an in walked this blonde haired blue eyed guy with a smile for days. I know this smile and he’s walking toward us. He stopped at our booth and just stood there. Then the moment he opened his mouth and said, “Hi there Buddy Backpacker”, I knew who he was. It is Pilgrim from Standing Bear hostel on the AT. We spent the next hour with him eating, chatting and catching up. He was one of the caretakers there when we passed through and I was hanging out waiting for Dion and Buddy to come out of the Smokys. We set up camp around 7 and were all out by 8.
We woke up this morning to Dion not feeling so hot and Buddy still getting over his altitude sickness so we’ve decided after two days we will take out first zero. There is absolutely nothing more important than our health out here so even though it’s a little disheartening that it’s a beautiful day and were not hiking, it’s totally fine by us to let everyone recover and adjust before we get back out there.
As I write we are sitting in the restaurant in town with full bellies and cups of coffee hanging with the locals. We will get there when we get there and not a minute sooner. This is a whole new world for us on the West coast so we will just take it one day at a time and hope for the best!