Let’s just begin by saying that I am in no way shape or form some pro hiker backpacker guru that slaughters these trails on a daily. So to say that these challenges are for only those faint of heart, well that is just simply not true. With that being said though, I was raised my entire life 40 miles from the closest town–which was the true definition of a one stop light town. Camping was a monthly and sometimes weekly occurrence with family and friends in the rural west of Colorado where there was not much else to do in the summers. So what may appear to me to be common sense may not be so common to those that never spent a day in the country among wild animals and camping in remote locations–therefore this should not be taken as a recommendation to follow in my steps 🙂
The Pacific Crest Trail is a beautiful hiking trail spanning from the Mexican Border in California to the Canadian Border in Washington. It covers some of the most versatile terrain from hot desert stretches to high snowy mountain peaks. Several backpackers each year walk the entire length of the trail in around 6 months and it is consider quite an accomplishment.
I am not sure how far I will ever get, if I will complete the full trail or not, but I love the idea so I set out on a plan to start doing section hikes weekends at a time until I felt ready to conquer weeks and then maybe months of straight backpacking, who knows what will happen!! Starting at the Southern Terminal of the PCT earlier this spring was the first such section hike 🙂
Joined on this stretch by my friend Yanai and 25 pounds of backpack-we drove to Lake Morena and parked the car in the free lot (make sure to ask at the forest ranger station which part is free as the other parking requires a pass – $5 I think). From there we caught a ride with some campers up to the trail head 8 miles away at the US Mexico Border. Here is the southern terminus to the Pacific Crest Trail and has a cool little monument marking the beginning of the journey.
Yanai and I were so pumped and ready to go we were doing handstands for our starting photo shoot. This obviously made the beginning of the hike fly by smoothly and fairly quickly.
The trail runs through the town of Campo, over the railroad and through the mountains north back towards the lake where we had left our car.
The trail is fairly well marked and very well maintained making it a great hike with great views spanning in all directions. We decided to stop and set up camp after about 6 hours of walking and had made it about 11 miles.
Once we set up camp we were shortly greeted by another hiker on his way the full distance all the way to Canada. Twice my size and a bag three times mine–he joined us long enough to eat his dinner with us, sharing stories of our homes, our plans and of course–the contents of his giant pack!!! A guide from Yosemite made this man more than qualified to take the challenge all the way and conquer this trail. I must make a note to see if he did!!
Yosemite was not the only person to cross our path that night, we were then shortly greeted by a border patrol agent, who literally come out of thin air! Apparently they have all sorts of devices out there, in the ground in the air, to track people who may be crossing across the border and we had triggered one of them!! After confirming we were merely hikers and telling us interesting facts on the tracking of illegal immigrants, he was off on his way as well.
The rest of the hike was spotted with a million little switch backs and one big mountain that had my legs screaming – my shoulders aching from the prior days sunburn and weight of my pack-and the sun burning blisters on the tops of my ears. Yes you guessed it–I will be double checking my sunscreen next time!! Only had one scare with a big snake but manage to side step him as he raced off after a rabbit more tasty than ourselves.
The best part if the trip of course though was the end!! LOL The sense of accomplishment with an even bigger sense of bewilderment of what we had just attempted and accomplished. I remember clearly saying I will never look at a mountain top the same way again…knowing that I can accomplish big things will a little bit of desire and determination. I also remember thinking…I don’t think I will ever be doing that again…
One week later I started researching my next 23 miles ❤️
To be continued….
Lost and found on the Pacific Crest Trail