Atmospheric River Survivor
Campo-Mount Laguna (Mile 0-42)
Yes, this is a dramatic title. BUT yes, I am in fact an atmospheric river survivor.
(Side note: I did not know those even existed until I was starting the PCT on March 21…)
Despite unusual conditions, I caught a break in the weather just enough to get out there and start this adventure of a lifetime!!!
Towns: Campo, Lake Morena, Mount Laguna
Day 1: Mile 0-7 (Campo, CA-Tent site)
Day 2: Mile 7-20 (Tent site-Lake Morena, CA)
Day 3: Mile 20-Mile 31 (Lake Morena, CA-Tent site)
Day 4: Mile 31-41 (Tent site-Mount Laguna, CA)
(Advice/pertinent hiker information in no particular order)
-You will experience multiple water crossings. Stay safe, cross bigger rivers with other hikers. If you feel even slightly unsafe while attempting a water crossing, wait for another hiker to arrive (someone will eventually).
-There are TONS of people out on trail. If you are worried about being alone (like I was), you will find others;) Trust the trail.
-Most hikers anticipated the SOCAL desert to be hot and dry. The PCT class of 2023 gets to experience the trail in a whole new way (green and rainy)!!! How exciting! Lots of new water sources that sparkle in the sun as they fall down the rocks!!
-Get some food in Lake Morena! It was delicious and the campground was a great place to stay.
-In Mount Laguna if all the lodging is full, the owners of the Pine House Tavern let us sleep on the floor overnight! It was lovely, warm, and they were very accommodating.
-If you are brand new to thru hiking (like me) don’t fear the water filtration/gear logistics/stoves/or anything else like that. You will get it a couple days in and it will become second nature! There are lots of people out here who will be willing to help as well.
-The stretch leading into Mount Laguna does in fact have snow, so be aware of that.
-Take your time these first couple days. I personally am in no rush to get to the Sierras. Enjoy yourself, take long lunch breaks, talk to new people, and HIKE YOUR OWN HIKE!!!!!
-We are all in this together (cue the high school musical soundtrack;) and we are all here to help each other. Ask questions, learn, and be teachable. We all have so much to learn from each other!!!
(Stories of my experience during this section in no particular order)
-Seeing the “PCT” trail signs along the way makes my heart skip a beat every time I see one. It’s quite surreal.
-People ahead on trail wrote us cute notes in the mud like “.5 to camp” and “Smile” and “You’ve got this!!!”
-I tripped while crossing a river at Mile 3 (embarrassing I know…), and my hiking boots have been soaked ever since, which has created many blisters and an extremely uncomfortable situation. On the bright side, when I came across that river, there were some other lovely hikers there who I ended up camping with during the storms on nights 1 and 2.
-Because of all this rain… the wildflowers have been INCREDIBLE!!!!!
-Water crossings up to my waist are much more enjoyable with new friends!!!
-While sitting in the Pine House Tavern, a lady offered to pay for another hiker’s meal. The community surrounding the trail is fantastic.
-Trail Magic!!!!! SO INCREDIBLE! We were about 6 miles in on day 3 when we came across some trail magic with drinks, tacos, and lots of happy hikers congregated under a tarp to escape the rain. The sun even peaked out for a moment and we all rejoiced! Witnessed a fellow hiker taste Dr. Pepper for the first time!!!
-My trail name is officially… “Mini Chimi” (Ask me for the story anytime;)
-Once I reached Lake Morena, I took a side trail which accidentally led me straight through someone’s campground. I emerged from the words, absolutely spooked the campers, said hello, and went on my way. This whole thru hiking thing is hilarious.
-There are so many people from other places out on trail! I have met people from all over the globe and it’s such a beautiful thing to hear all their stories and see how this one trail has brought us all together.
-I am already LOVING the simplicity of this lifestyle. The simple joys of a warm meal after a long mileage day, laughing with new friends, making connections, and braving the trail with all these people. Simply looking around and realizing that all these years of dreaming of this experience is FINALLY here is such a wonderful feeling. I am already loving this. Updates coming soon!!! Happy hiking;)
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