Days 2 & 3: Desert Rain & French Fries


Miles hiked today: 10.7

Camped @ mile: 26  

I awoke in the middle of the night. Checked watch: 12:30!  Woah! Okay, I am not even halfway through the night! I can’t tell if the tarp is still standing but I don’t feel so wet. I wake again at 3 something. Wet. Tarp is billowing so low it is laying on me. It is merging with me. We are one. We are one large raindrop cocoon. But I know dwr (durable water repellent), or a solid lesson, or the sunshine tomorrow has got my back. Either way, I feel peaceful. Sleep until 5:50. Well, almost time for alarm, so stay awake! I check what I can see: wet shoes outside of range of protection of tarp, standing tarp, heavy rain. I decide to wait for it to pass. 

Tell Tavi what’s up. Then scootch myself out of the tarp. Make a mental note: how easy it is to exit a tarp (instead of tent) in the morning, for you are not separate from the elements, you are one! I’m already outside. I notice Tavi taking a while to unzip her tent. I reach back to pull my stakes out of the wet earth, folding my a-frame tarp onto itself. I then peel my bivy off of my glistening, damp quilt.  It doesn’t feel so cold. Sitting up now I have a clear look at my surroundings. WOWOWOW, i think, look at those clouds, am I in Washington already? I was not expecting the desert to have views like this. 

It isn’t raining at this point. I shake off my sleep stuff, lay out my bag, eat a bite of leftover couscous dinner (noted: one box is 2.5 servings right now). Veronica, who slept next to us, greets me and offers sympathy for my damp gear. I share how really all a-okay I am. It’ll be sunny enough in no time! Plus, I get to learn this lesson and soon enough will become a pro (or at least a hiker with greater confidence) at the tarp set up. This is just the beginning. I can deal with this, I can welcome this! I can embrace this. Plus the flowers are going to pop! P-O-P, I say!  

Tavi is up and now it’s raining. Full on POURING! I wait under a tree while she packs up, cursing her pack and its size. We walk almost two hours until we encounter sun! A grand time to lay out my gear to dry, have a quick snack, and wander off trail (85 steps) for my first trail poo. 

We walk knowing a malt shop is on the horizon. We get to our first little town: LAKE MORENA. So many hikers. Packs scattered outside the front door. Inside, bodies are a buzz with chatter and chomping on burgers. 

I am excited and overwhelmed. I sneak away to call my partner, Dreamer, who updates me on his experience at CDT trail days and how our dog Arla is making friends with campers. I think how special it is to know we are both connecting with thru-hiking at the same time.  

I meet Kate, Mike, Alex (from Stockholm!) Emily, Justus and they talk of a Simone who must be lost. She later appears and shares a tale of a missed turn (same missed turn as us!) People drink chocolate malts and generously share their fries with me. I don’t spend money here. I could honestly go without..I wasn’t expecting treats this early on. Remember, I’m used to working in wilderness therapy on 7  night long shifts away from restaurant foods. 

I feel kinda antsy seeing how this shop is sucking people in. I must hike. I must save money. I must eat food from my heavy pack. Outside there are articles of clothing and gear strewn across the property, drying out in the sun.  I teach one person how to shake off water from her tent before laying it to dry, then another asks if I can help. It feels special to be really in it now, surrounded by other hikers.

Back to the trail! Tavi packs out a beer and at 2 miles in we share it on trail, taking a dance break to Kendrick Lamar. Then a hiker appears, Constantine from Germany. We were filming our dance but instead of feeling embarrassed, we laugh it off and share stories with our new friend. 

My body feels good. We stretch in a meadow of yellow flowers.

The first official Trail Angel Experience

We make it to Boulder Creek campground where Veronica hollers us over to trail angels with food and beer! So much food ! Not intentionally vegetarian friendly, but we’ve got chips and oj. ORANGE JUICE! And fireball. I opt out of the booze offerings this time but stick around for the company. 

We decide to camp here, clocking in a ten mile day. Tavi and I plan out our next couple of days, or rather loose ideas. We have a big climb coming up. 

I head back to the food area and meet Tank Top, a hiker fresh off the AT  who is attempting a single year triple crown! 

I talk to Jackie by the fire. She cracks me up! She’s a van lifer from Portland who most recently was living in New Orleans working for non-profit rebuilding homes affected by hurricanes. 

I feel so proud of myself. For trying my tarp even with the Tavi’s tempting offer of sharing her tent. For getting rained on. For drying out. Now I know my stuff can get wet. The dread of that happening is reduced. Resiliency fills its place. 

And I’m in bed by 816! 

Happy earth day 


Miles hiked today: 15 

Camped @ mile: 41 

“Are you moving? ” Tavi asked 

“Yeah” I reply. 

“It’s crisp out here” 

“I just woke up”

Crisp, I discover, means frosty. Sawyer squeeze! Dammit forgot to put it safe from freezing in my sleeping quilt. I hear the chatter of a camp site full of hikers and bop over to trail angels’ for coffee.  

We spend the morning exchanging stories with trail angels Ellwood, Jimmy Jimmy Coco Puff, and Oscar. 

We hit the trail again around 9. We cruise until a creek stop. Running water! We filter water and go down stream to soak some feet. 

It’s hot but I feel great. should I stop? We stop! I’m excited to make shade with my tarp. We siesta and feast and lay and stretch in a little nook by trees and bushes. Many hikers pass us. That’s a strange feeling. Should we be walking right now? 

We get to another water source and meet Cory from Portland and LA. He started yesterday! Then we meet Matt. We talk about Mount Laguna. Maybe pushing all the way to the little town tonight? 

Matt passes us on trail and says he’s taking food orders, what do we want? I say fries with mustard. That’s enough motivation. 

Why not? We walk. We pass a group of nice folks: Jackie, Katie, Nick, and Molly. They invite us to stay but we are 1.5 miles away. They say they saw a guy in a yellow shirt running down the trail. Fries! 

It’s an easy push for me. We roll into the campground. Confused on if this is a real town or what’s going on. We drop our stuff. So many folks here. See our pal Liz! Great reunion. 

We go to the tavern to see fry guy and sure enough he’s there! With Cory! It’s awkward for Tavi and I in this nice place. The staff let’s us in after they’ve closed. Matt hands us a bag of to go fries, we say thanks a bunch and head outside to chow down. Mustard and even ranch! 

Back at camp we set up shared shelter. We sit by Cory and Fry. Matt has a trail name now! His friend from back home joked that Hot Fry would suit him well so he welcomes the name. I dig their company but they seem to be hiking faster than we can keep up. Who knows if we will see them again!

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?