150ish Miles Trekking Along the PCT

Hello from 150ish miles! The trail is challenging and wonderful and monotonous and exhilarating, all at once.

First things first, a proper introduction – I’m still just Katherine, but I’d like to introduce you to the newly christened Treebeard, who shares many admirable qualities with the venerable Ents.

Trail names are a big deal.
Sean is henceforth Treebeard.

No two days on trail are the same, but most days follow a general pattern: we wake up sometime around 5:00 or 6:00am, breakdown camp, and get moving. This 30 minutes is the hardest part of my day: my sleeping bag is warm, my legs are sore, and my self doubt is loudest. Treebeard and I usually sip our coffee as we walk along the first few minutes on the trail as we lackadaisically warm up our legs. After that, the entire day is spent walking, with a few snacks/new friends/shade siestas/water breaks along the way. We usually have a mileage plan in mind, based on some combination of water sources, food, and exhaustion. Once we’ve stumbled into our campsite for the night, we undo all the morning’s work: we unpack, set up camp, eat dinner, read, journal, and then we’re asleep by 8:30pm.

Almost everyday has been great. The scenery is varied and beautiful, the people are awesome, and I feel liberated to be out on the trail. One night hike was tough; it felt like we were moving straight uphill at a snail’s pace, it was 85+ degrees, and it was pitch black before we reached camp. Most days are hot, but the last 40ish miles have been a varied mess of clouds, mist, rain, and wind.

Scenes from a tent.

Hiker hunger hasn’t set in, but I feel like my gas tank is almost always on E. I don’t feel hungry all the time, but I feel empty, which is hilarious considering how much food I’m eating. I kept a food diary on a random, sixteen mile day. Here’s what I ate: coffee, oatmeal with walnuts, green juice and chocolate protein powder, vitamins (B12, turmeric, omega, cranberry, and a multivitamin), a banana, a can of V8 juice, many handfuls of dried fruit/walnuts/almonds/pistachios, half a snickers bar, a glorious Oreo, gummy bears and energy chews, rehydrated mushroom risotto, a pack of almond butter, rehydrated pad thai noodles, and last but not least, Girl Scout Tagalongs.

Highlights from the First 150ish Miles

1. The town of Julian, CA (a quick and easy hitch from the highway crossing at mile 77) is awesome. We crawled to the highway crossing after 10 hot desert miles, and within 15 seconds a trail angel picked us up and drove us to town. We got complimentary slice of Mom’s Pie, plus an ice cold root beer that I’d been dreaming of for 20+ miles. From there, we stopped by 2 Foot Adventures gear shop and then made our way to the brewery for beer (cold beer!) and bbq.

Beer = excellent hiking fuel.

2. The trail gods smiled favorably upon me and gave me not just a new Taylor Swift album, but also a random spot of WiFi with which to download it.

3. The trail community is amazing. Trail angels are incredibly generous people, who out of the goodness of their hearts freely give their time, food, beer, and homes to wayward hikers. Some accept cash gratuities, some only want hugs, most want you to someday pass it along. Trail angels are amazing, as are my fellow hikers. Everyone you meet on the trail is weird, happy, creative, and generous. I feel kinship with every hiker I meet, and many a time over the last 150ish miles I’ve looked around at a random group of mostly-strangers and thought to myself ‘ah, my people.’

Lowlights from the First 150ish Miles

1. The desert is HOT (except when it’s freezing) and the water can be uncertain. The heat is a daily struggle exasperated by long stretches without water, so your pack is extra heavy carrying (hopefully) all the water you need. I’ve had a couple of afternoons that I had to ration the water I was carrying, which is an uncomfortable place to be. The heat is unforgiving, the water is indefinite, and I’m humbled.

A supposed water source on the FarOut guide.
There have been several days when we’ve had to carry enough water for 20ish miles.
Filling up at a water cache. A joyous event.

The desert is tough, but with it comes vibrant pink cactus flowers. I am dripping in sweat, but I am as happy as ever. And after the sun sets and the heat starts to wane, desert twilight has a calm serenity to it. The birds that shelter during the heat come back out for a final chirpy lullaby.

Desert beauty.

2. Rattlesnakes (“Danger Noodles”). Just as the desert sun was setting somewhere around mile 83, I saw my first rattlesnake. It rattled at us from about ten feet ahead, and it wasn’t budging from its perch on the trail.  Two other hikers were ahead of me on the trail and we had a terrified traffic jam as we all hid behind hiker California (so named for his deliberate pronunciation of his home state). We gingerly made a wide circle off the trail to circumnavigate our foe, and we carried on. I have always been afraid of snakes. It’s one of the many qualities I share with Indiana Jones. I’m able to find a silver lining with the desert heat, but not snakes. Fuck those guys.

As always, my current books for Emma: I just started John Green’s The Anthropocene Reviewed, which is insightful and funny and makes me sad. Up next is a re-read of The Lord of the Rings. I also recently finished listening through Leviathan Wakes, and next is A Short Walk Through a Wide World by Douglas Westerbeke.

 

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Comments 1

  • Dad : May 1st

    Still just Katherine? But, She forgets her roots. You were born KTBug, and shall always Be. Wear it with pride!

    Reply

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