Every Day Is Different: The First Few on the PCT

Day Two: Milkshakes and Contaminated Water

Michael and I set off early the next morning, heading for Lake Morena. It was an easy descent to Hauser Creek but the climb out of Hauser Canyon was no joke. We reached Lake Morena in the early afternoon and got to appreciate sinks and flushing toilets at the campground. However, all the water in the area was reportedly contaminated with E. coli so we made our way to the Oak Shores Malt Shop for water and lunch. I was surprised when I went in and all I wanted to have was a large bottle of orange juice. We sat on the porch of the Malt Shop for several hours, drinking milkshakes and chatting with locals, other hikers, and even met the former mayor while we waited out the heat of the day.

Eventually we moved on to mile 23, where we had a beautiful campsite overlooking the lake. We had an epic sunset but missed out on a hiker party a few miles ahead where some locals had brought out beer and a barbecue for the hikers. This is what’s known as trail magic.

Day Three: Camping with a Nuclear Physicist and a Doctor of Mathematics

Day three started with a fantastic sunrise but we could definitely feel the heat creeping in. We hiked hard, hoping to get much of the climb to Mount Laguna done so we’d have an easier hike into town the next day. I was quite hungry all day so my worries that I’d brought too much food were put to rest. After a long lunch break under some trees near a stream in Fred Canyon, Michael and I headed out into the heat, camping a few miles short of Mount Laguna along another stream.

We were joined in camp by a woman named Blue Monkey whom we had been leapfrogging since day one. Over dinner we discussed what our lives were like before the trail. Blue Monkey was a nuclear physicist doing research at Berkley while Michael had his PHD in mathematics. Despite wildly different ages and backgrounds, the trail had brought us all together so we could eat freeze dried food under oak trees miles from civilization. The trail really is an incredible place.

We had been climbing in elevation all day and the temperature in our little canyon dropped considerably. It was actually the first night that I was cold on trail.

Day Four: Family, Wind, and Injury

It was an easy few miles into Mount Laguna. When I was younger, my family would go camping at Burnt Rancheria Campground, so walking into the area again was exhilarating. I was excited because my family was going to come and meet me for a quick visit and to resupply me later that day. We reached the famous Pine House Cafe and Tavern and joined more than a dozen hikers for fresh baked goods, coffee, and cold drinks.

Michael and I made our way down the road to the general store where he resupplied. We sat on the porch for several hours, hanging out with fellow hiker trash that came through. Eventually we made our way back to the cafe for salad and beer. Shortly after, we were joined by my parents and girlfriend, who brought me the food I had prepackaged as well as an extra base layer for colder nights.

After saying goodbye to my family, Michael and I hiked another six miles that would turn out to be some of my scariest on trail so far. As we headed out of Mount Laguna, the wind began to really blow. We walked from ridge to ridge getting hammered by 50+ mile an hour winds. At one point, my Trek hat flew off my head and toward a cliff, luckily getting caught on a bush. Shortly afterward, I rolled my ankle coming down a steep gradient, which made the rest of the hike to camp quite uncomfortable. However, we knew we needed to press on and find a place to shelter for the night. We finally found a place near the Big Laguna trailhead and hunkered down in some bushes for a windy, rainy night.


Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 1

  • Debbie Kraus : Apr 8th

    Hi Austin,
    I’m following you on your adventure. I’m so proud of you and I’m looking forward to reading your posts. Good luck and stay safe. Mrs. Kraus


What Do You Think?