Desert: A day in the sun

In normal backpacker life waking up with the sun and sleeping when it sets is a normal rhythm hikers tend to follow. That all gets a bit tweaked when it comes to hiking through the Southern California desert. So if you ever struggle getting out of bed to move towards your kitchen for your morning coffee imagine this absurd morning routine.

The Mornings:

If the sun rises at 5:30 I want to be hiking before that, so a 4:00 or 4:30 wake up call. This way I can hike for an hour or a half in the dark. Its Cold, my fingers are always struggling to zip up my backpack and I use the socks I wear to bed as my mittens for the first hour or two of hiking (because everything you carry needs to have a dual purpose). Morning dew still exist in the desert too so I wrap up a slightly damp tent and sleeping bag which makes my hands even colder. Regardless of the cold temperature I will switch into my hiking shorts because once walking I’ll warm up of course, but that doesn’t stop my legs from turning a nice shade of misty mountain purple for the first hour of walking. Best part of the morning is still seeing the dusting of the milky way galaxy!

From 6 am- 9 am the hiking temperature is perfect and I can accomplish about 7-8 miles. I don’t want to stop for a rest because I know my period of sweet hiking temperature is short and I will need to rest for hours soon. It’s funny to think a week ago I would sleep in till 10 and now I’ve been hiking 10 miles by 10 day after day.


The Siesta:

Doing nothing proved to be harder than I thought. Under a sliver of shade from a large bush a tall rock or an actual tree if I made it to some sort of water source is where I’ll spend my afternoons. Take a nap, read Lord of the Flies, eat lunch, maybe nap again or talk to some hiker if I’m at a spot big enough to host two people in the shade. Adjusting from real life to trail life lead to feeling odd while I did nothing for hours. The urge to keep pushing on was always there but the moment your skin touched the sun you knew sitting down was the only valid option.  11- 3 or 12-4 and then I’m back on trail to finish out the day.

The Night:

Finally crank out some more miles. Even if the sun is lower it still would be hot till 6 since the day has just been roasting for hours. I’ll kick some sand into my shoes, apply sun screen over my dirt covered legs again, and enjoy the beautiful garden of desert flowers. At where I’ll call home for the night I throw my sleeping pad on the floor lay out my sleeping bag and ‘cowboy camp’, this is where you don’t sleep in your tent and just lay under the stars. I’ll lay facing up watching each individual star wake up in the darkening sky while I wait for sleep to come over me. And repeat.


Shout outs of gratitude!

Magic man: a man who has now twice been at a trail road crossing handing out cold drinks to us hikers! Love trail magic love a cold soda on a hot day or any day.

Becky: A trail angel who let me and four other hikers sleep in her yard shower and do laundry at her place as well as drove us to trail at the early morning hiker hours.

Moms pie shop in Julian: Love a free slice of pie! strawberry rhubarb of course

And last but not least of course thank you to my own Mom! Sad to be on trail on Mothers day and not be able to spend it with her. She is my number one supporter on trail, mailing me gear, forgotten items and sending love and support all the time. Love you from Mexico to Canada


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