Hello my name is Otter.
Photos were uploading so I’ll try to add em later.
So I got a nickname. Surprise. The thing about having an out there name is that people nickname you in a hot second. I like my name, but it definitely poses problems for people I meet. By the end of Day One, I was dubbed Otter. Obviously because of the beanie baby I am carrying, so kinda had that one coming. I dig it, it works, and everyone has been calling me it since. Dunno when I’ll hear Linnea again. Linnea to Naya to Tarzan to Otter. Yup.
Day One: Lake Morena, Mile 20.
The crazy thing about the PCT is you hike more than you ever have in a day your first day and then you do that again and again and again. We crushed out 20 miles the first day and rolled into Lake Morena with our head lamps on around 8:30pm. My feet hurt like a mofo and I was starving. Hiker hunger on day one. The worst. The scenery was a lot of wild sage and snake holes. Which we would come to find out would be the scenery for the next week. And that those snake holes are actually tarantula holes. Mmm yummy.
Lake Morena is a boonie town with a lake and two people. One of whom has a beautiful peacock tattoo, minimal teeth, and really had the hots for one of the people I hiked with. So much that she bought us a half gallon of ice cream and invited him to a shower back at her place. Luckily Wilder, because said lady said he looked like Gene Wilder, decided to stay with us and our tramly (trail family) was born. We only ate the top layer of ice cream after a FAT sandwich from the diner and then pitched our tents and passed out.
We got a late start – took an hour and a half to pack up and then hiked through the day, in the heat, to Long Canyon Creek. We passed Kitchen Creek, which was deep enough to submerge ourselves in and holy lord did that feel good. I had a nasty rash the week before I left and had three biopsys done (skin taken to look at under a microscope) so I had three sets if stitches on my left side. Meaning I technically couldn’t get that side wet. One of the people in my tramly, Pony Express because she delivers, had bandages that would prevent any water from getting in. So I got to go full dunkage. I cannot tell you how gratful I am for these people. Pony is this wonderful Australian who is constantly helping people. She carried a puffy for 43 miles to deliver it to its owner.
The other people in our tramly are two more aussie girls, Fire Ant and Dandilion who are two-thirds of a Three Stooges type group. Freaking hilarious. Then we have Roller, who decided to bring a foam roller for the first 43 miles, and Wilder. And we have hiked together all the way to Warner Springs. I love em. And at some point, probably soon, we’ll split up but right now their company and conversation has made this first week unbeatable. If I have to leave the trail because of an injury or whatever, they made this first week amazing. And you get to know people stupid fast out here. Within five minutes you have their life story and then you jump right to putting chafing cream in their armpits, helping them with their blistered feet, accidentally walking in on them taking a dump, the nastiness goes on. We take care of each other and I couldn’t have asked for a better first week.
We hiked through Mt. Laguna and had a killer breakfast at a cafe and stopped at their awesome resupply store. Gear is so addicting. I got a shake down, meaning someone goes through your pack saying what you don’t need to lighten your load. I definitely have one of the heavier packs. People are so into ultra light now. But I begrudgingly let some things go and got three pounds off my base weight. I am carrying WAY too much food…so gotta eat more. Darn. By now I had about ten blisters between my two feet and they were swollen from walking so much. There is so much pain that goes into this but man do I love this lifestyle. Eat, sleep, walk. It is so easy to get into the rhythm of it and at this point not moving is harder than moving. Everytime we take a break and start walking again I have to relearn how to walk. It’s like watching little kids waddle in ski boots. I have to think really hard about putting one foot in front of the other, then you get used to the pain, and power on.
So I forgot to mention that hot headed me refused to put on sunscreen because, “I’m Italian and tan really easily”. As a result, I got a well-deserved blistering sunburn. Idiot. Total idiot. It has since turned into a pretty spectacular farmer’s tan and I have switched to a long-sleeve shirt. Learning the hard way.
Anyhoo, it was another ballz hot day and we walked through the hottest part of the day again. Water is far and few between in the desert, sometimes up to 14 miles of dry trail, so we were killing ourselves. The we had a ten mile dry stretch and it was not fun. And then the water source was a mile off trail. My knee started to hurt this day, not good, but trying to relax it now. After dorking around by the water, we decides no more hiking during the day. Getting up early, getting in the miles then relaxing.
Day Five: Scissor’s Crossing, Mile 77
We woke up at 4:30am to get the miles in. We were moving pretty fast and then rounded this ridge and saw a spectacular sunrise. And those are the moments you hike for. Everything hurts, but then you remember the people you are with and the amazing things you get to see. It was a classic desert sunrise with brilliant colors and just an open landscape. The picture doesn’t do it justice. It makes everything so worth it.
We hitched into Julian with a ride from Devil Fish who follows PCT hikers and trail angels all the way through. Freaking awesome. In town we were treated like kings. There was free pie, I got apple boysenberry with…wait for it…cinnamon ice cream. Sosososososo good. Uh I died. Then there is this placed called Carmen’s, run by Carmen. She legit closes her restaurant to the public so she can serve thru hikers. Unbelievable generosity. We got to pick from three different brats or a burger and she gave us cold beer, an industrial sink to shower in, and epson salt foot baths. All just because. Even though we are premium dirtbags people want to help us so much. So Much. It has restores my faith in humanity watching all these trail angels drive miles to support us. They do it completely willingly and give us so much. I wish the rest of the world operated like that.
We all just relaxed at Carmen’s for hours. Got our laundry done, I showered in the industrial sink, and then hitched a ride back with Devil Fish again. We camped under a bridge, the most homeless I have ever felt, and fell asleep to a chorus of coyetes howling.
Day Six: Barrel Springs, Mile 101
Twenty-five miles. We hiked 25 miles. Dandilion and me with a bum knee. And it was actually fine. There was a 14 mile stretch without water and the only reason there was water was someone brought three flats worth of gallon-sized Crystal Geiser to the trail. Unreal. We chilled there until it cooled down then hiked the last ten to barrel springs. We got there and someone told us there was beer at an RV for Cinco di Mayo. Well, not only was there beer but nachos and a SALAD (you have no idea what a luxury item fresh vegetables are) and lemonade and cookies and oh my god it was amazing. Trail magic is amazing! And then they made us pancakes the next morning. What? So cool. People are so cool.
I am here now. One hundred miles in. I can’t believe it. My knee still hurts so I am taking a zero to relax it. The tramly is still together. Wilder left last night then showed up again this morning cause it rained all night and he only got two miles down the trail. We mosied into Warner around 10am and just chilled. There are about 40 tents set up under what I am calling Mother Willow cause of the rain and all of us are inside the Resource Center eating cookies, homemade salsa, freah fruit. Life is glorius. My friend came and delivered Panda Express which has never tasted so good. Thank you Kristen!! You’re great.
Life is beyond fantastic, my blisters are healing and my sunburn is pretty much gone. I am surrounded by interesting awesome people and listening to stories and funny trail happenings. My stitches are out thanks to Pony, and now it’s just the knee. We got pumpkin pancakes this morning and homemade salsa right now. Idyllwild is in a couple of days and I just gotta do this 25.5 more times and I am in Canada! This week has been so so great and I hope I can keep myself healthy so I can continue. Until Idyllwild, Otter out.
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No surprise, I approve of your trail name. I expected the feet will toughen as will the muscles and tendons. I read an article about racing an Ironman where the author stated that he can’t think of racing 140.6 miles; he thinks of it racing one mile, 140.6 times. It might apply to the PCT, too. One day at a time, you know.
Your experience so far sounds so SO cool! Everyone back home is so interested in hearing about your trek.
It’s so nice to read your stories and travel along with you! I’ll be waiting for more 🙂
Go otter go!! Me and the girlies are cheering you on. Love these posts!! Keep em up!