And So It Begins

I’m five days into my journey on the Pacific Crest Trail. Five days in and I am taking my first zero, a zero that is incredibly welcomed. I’ve been pushing some big days to try to get to Julian before the big rainstorm hit the desert. Luckily I have had the support of a trail family in the making to help push these 20+ mile days.

Day One

Campo to Lake Morena

So many emotions were felt this day. I made it, I’m actually here! This is going to be my life for the next four to five months and I’m so excited. The sand was nice to walk on and the switchbacks were welcomed. After hiking in the Northeast for the entire winter, it was a nice change of scenery. I’m cruising along, at about 3 mph (I track my speed and distance on my beloved Coros Apex watch), and I realize another hiker and I keep leapfrogging each other. This is where I officially met Tommy Hawk: another strong, fast hiker from the Northeast. We decided to keep hiking together and come up with a plan for night one. The goal was Lake Morena. We made the 20-mile trek into Lake Morena and set up camp before the sun went down. After we set up camp we went to the Malt Shoppe and got some dinner and I got the vanilla milkshake I had been thinking about before our Hauser Canyon climb. Throughout our travels on this first day we met many hikers, two of whom we would soon find out would be pushing the biggest day so far into Julian with us: Trip and Ian.

Day Two

Lake Morena to Mile 37.5

We woke up with a late start, still trying to get used to a new routine on trail. It was a beautiful, cool day passing Boulder Oaks and Kitchen Creek along some of the most amazing ridgeline I have ever walked on. Tommy Hawk and I came up with a plan for the impending storm: push big days to get to Julian, take a zero and rest up.

Day Three

Mile 37.5 to Mile 56

We woke up on day three to wet tents and cold temperatures. It was a struggle to leave my sleeping bag. We ended up getting started on trail again around 8 a.m. I was in my puffy and my hard shell for the majority of the morning as winds were pretty strong on the ridges just past Mount Laguna. Tommy Hawk and I had our first town experience and dove in on some breakfast at the Mount Laguna Café. (I highly recommend the Spanish omelet and Cathy is amazing!) We broke the 50-mile mark this day! A big milestone that was celebrated between Tommy Hawk and me. Pushed it to mile 56, where we set up camp in this beautiful canyon to hide from the winds. There was one other tent there and who emerged? Trip! We hadn’t seen Trip since Lake Morena! We told him our plan to push to Scissors Crossing the next day and he was in.

Day Four

Mile 56 to Scissors Crossing

This was our biggest day so far. Trip and I got started around 6:30 a.m. and were welcomed on the ridges by one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen. Tommy Hawk eventually caught up about an hour later. About 45 minutes later, who did we run into? IAN! We hadn’t seen Ian since he blew by us at Lake Morena, and we were all very excited. All of us stuck together trying to get to Scissors Crossing. It seemed like we were gaining a lot of elevation this day, but it must have been the exhaustion. We were descending into the valley when we all started to hurt. It was brutally hot (I don’t know how all you May starters do it); it was a huge water carry and our legs and feet were definitely feeling the big miles. A zero day the next day was very appropriately planned. We made it to Scissors Crossing and easily got our first hitch into Julian, where we checked out 2foot Adventures, Julian Beer Co., and the local liquor store. We hunkered down for the remainder of the night, had some well-deserved cocktails and watched The Voice. (Yes, I forced the boys to watch it.)

We are about 33 miles or three days away from Warner Springs, the first big resupply spot. Hopefully the rest of the rain holds off in our favor but if not, we will do what we have to do to stay safe.

I am so amazed as to how beautifully diverse this trail is; from desert sand to huge pine trees and patches of snow around Mount Laguna back to the desert and the land of chollas. The ridges we have been walking have been a dream come true and I can only imagine what is to come.

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Comments 17

  • Avatar
    Bryce Maki : Mar 10th

    Go Stef!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Blaze : Mar 12th

      Thanks Bryce! 🙂

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Stephen p. Ward : Mar 11th

    Good for you!! I’m 63 yrs. Young and planning my own trip. Stay healthy and safe on your journey.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Blaze : Mar 12th

      Woohoo!!! Congratulations! Happy Trails 🙂

      Reply
  • Avatar
    minda bramer : Mar 11th

    You’re amazing! My friend and I are planning to hike towards the end of April from campo to Julian. We are only able to do a week. This is our first hike like this. I’m so excited! Any words of wisdom in advice?

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Jennifer Ann Miller : Mar 11th

      Let me know if you and my brother ever cross paths. He is a couple days behind, but may catch up at some point. Name is Justin. Good luck. Enjoy the beauty and eat and sleep well.

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Blaze : Mar 12th

        Thank you Jennifer! Will do 🙂

        Reply
    • Avatar
      Blaze : Mar 12th

      That’s awesome Minda! So exciting! Just be prepared for the heat. I cant imagine how you late starters do it. It was pretty hot for us day one and day four. And make sure you let all your expectations go out the window! It’s a beautiful place, look at the little things like all the flowers!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Gregory Goldstein : Mar 11th

    Stephen: how exciting for you to plan the trail hike at the age of 63 young! Will you be trying to hike all the way?
    I am also 63 years young, but cannot imagine attempting your upcoming effort.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Blaze : Mar 12th

      Never say never!!! 🙂

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Just Bob : Mar 11th

    Pushing big miles at a fast pace…………

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Blaze : Mar 12th

      Oh yes, trying to beat the rain as much as we can!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    whistlinjack : Mar 11th

    I turned 62 this January and planning to start section B this April. Had a awesome experience with section A and can’t wait to get on the trail again. God speed to all you PCT explorers.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Blaze : Mar 12th

      Woohoo! We start section B today!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Jerry : Mar 12th

    You’re almost there and don’t even know it! Happy trails Steph!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Blaze : Mar 12th

      Thank you Jerry! 🙂 trying not to rush it too much, I dont want it to ever end!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Barbara : Mar 12th

    I sure wish I could do something like this. I’m 85 and I have to use a walker. So wish I could just walk. So enjoy walking. We take it for granted that we can walk and for get there are some of us that can’t. So I enjoy your letter about your walk. Keep it up. [email protected]

    Reply

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