Learning to Adapt
I survived day 1! Let’s go! I got up around 530 or so and started to pack up camp. Once I was ready for the day, the hiking began. About a half mile into my hike, I came across the camp of a couple hikers, Bonnie and Robin, who had stopped to chat at my campsite last night. We chatted a bit more and then I told them I would see them up the trail. A couple hours later, they had caught up to me and were talking about finding a place to stop for coffee. I told them that I would join them if I caught them. Well, about a half mile later I found them in the shade! I stopped and chatted for a bit with them until we were all ready to continue on.
My plans were to siesta (in PCT terms, it means finding some shade with waiting out the sun and sometimes involves a nap) somewhere along the trail. I had gotten to the top of Hauser Canyon about noon and had begun the last few miles down to the “creek.” The way I hike is not always the best – I tend to just go. I haven’t figured out the art of taking breaks, so it’s not uncommon for me to hike straight through the day without sitting or taking my pack off. Not ideal, I know. It’s hard for me to get going again once I stop. (This is relevant to the point, I promise!)
The hairpin turn from OK to not OK
Once you get to the top of Hauser Canyon, the trail follows a service road for a bit until the trail picks up again. I hit that part of the trail early in the afternoon. 0/10 stars. Do not recommend. As hot as I was the day before was nothing compared to this. It felt like I was standing on the surface of the sun. I grabbed my sun umbrella and that helped quite a bit, but I could still feel the radiant heat from the ground and the sun baking everything. My wish in that moment was for someone to drive down the road and drive me the rest of the way. No such luck unfortunately. As I got closer to the camp sites, I started to hear the voices of some other hikers. It was the fuel I needed to make it the rest of the way. I got into camp at 230 and did 8 miles!
My first taste of trail magic
I strolled into camp and found Bonnie and Robin laying under a tree and was so excited to see them! I asked if they were planning on walking down to the water source (1.6 miles down the road each way). They had said they weren’t sure, but had said that someone had driven down the road a bit earlier. As if the PCT gods were listening, that same person drove past the campsite almost immediately after. Bonnie and Robin ran up to the truck and asked for a ride to the water source to which he agreed. They told me to sit and chill and they would fill up some containers for me! (Bonnie and Robin – if you’re reading this, I cannot thank you enough!)
After taking off my shoes and drinking some water, I plopped down on a log. Not too long after, more hikers started to trickle into camp. I had seen other hikers on trail up to this point, but it was mostly a hello as they passed by me. This was one of the first chances I had to talk to other hikers in a more depth capacity. Having the realization that this pretty much sucks for all of us made me feel like I wasn’t crazy. More hikers trickled into camp and we sat and chatted for a bit more. Most of them were waiting out the sun a bit in order to make the climb out of the canyon not a death march.
Starting to feel myself
The next morning, I got up around 330 to climb out of the canyon. I left camp about 430 and started the climb. I’m not going to lie, the first bit (~.5 mile) was a bit nerve wracking! I had night hiked before, but never alone! I kept thinking I would get attacked by a mountain lion at any moment! Eventually, my nerves subsided and I got into the climb. I moved at a slow and steady pace and it felt amazing! Most of the climb was the best I had felt on trail so far! It’s where I started to feel really good and like I was where I was meant to be! Watching the light start to illuminate the desert was unlike anything I had seen before. It was beautiful!
I made it to the top of the climb around 7 and had two smaller climbs ahead before the descent into Lake Morena. Around 8, Bonnie and Robin caught me at the top of the second climb and we decided to stop for a coffee break. Once we started moving again, the sun was beginning to break over the ridges and we all welcomed it with open arms! After shaking off the chill of the night and embracing the sun, we continued hiking. Bonnie and Robin took off and I told them I would see them in town. The rest of the trail into town came easily. Things felt great! I rode the high of the morning into town!
Dreams do come true (with a milkshake)!
Once I made it into Lake Morena, I made a beeline to Oak Shores Malt Shop where I planned to get the milkshake I had been dreaming about for days! I ordered food and was having a conversation with another hiker when my food came out. I ordered a breakfast sandwich and when I started eating, it felt like a moment straight out of Hollywood – eyes glazed over, time slowed, and I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. Life changing!
Setting the tone for the rest of the trail
They day the trail tests you in ways you could never fathom. I’d say it’s too early to tell, but also “oh yeah. For sure!” I made it to the first stop along the PCT for NOBO hikers – Lake Morena! Woohoo! 20 miles! In those 20 miles, I learned more about myself than I thought was possible. Bring on the rest of the trail!
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