F*** You Barbara

Week 1 on the Pacific Crest Trail 

As I walked away from the southern terminus going north, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew I would be facing fears, loneliness, physical and mental strain. But I didn’t know when. Or how this terrain would change me. I still don’t. And not knowing is one of my weaknesses, the fear of the unknown is real. But as of now, I am 77 miles in and it’s been.. interesting.

In the shuttle on the way to the Mexican border, a group of us discussed our shared fear of rattlesnakes. Some advice from a fellow PCT hopeful was that if you name the snakes alphabetically, they become less threatening in your mind.

On day 1, just 4 miles in, I met Arnold.

He had slithered across the trail into a crevice in a large rock where I could not see him. The opposite side of the trail was too thick with bushes to go around the foot wide dirt path. Every step forward was like stepping on an activate button for that awful rattle. I paced for about 20 minutes thinking about going back to the group of hikers I had just passed before I gave in and ran. It was a quick realization that yes, I am out here alone, and no one is going to help me in moments like these.

I have to rely on myself and I have to be fucking brave.

On day 2, I had been scanning the rocky trail all day looking for those terrifying danger noodles. The trail merged with a dirt road and I felt like I had an entire six lane highway to myself. As soon as I let my mind wander from the depths of hell, I was reminded that letting my guard down was never an option. I was surprised and stunned by the loud hissing rattle just to the right of me. I ran across the road and let out a big “fuck you Barbara” at a coiled up, pissed off rattler. I’m sure the snakes are tired of all these stinky people stomping through their territory. That snake didn’t deserve it but I didn’t deserve to see 2 damn rattle snakes in 2 damn days.

I camped alone for the first time ever in my life that night. My sister decided it was a good idea to let my already homesick, anxiety-ridden, helicopter-cat-mom ass know that she almost let my baby escape.  I wanted to go home.

I sat under this beautiful manzanita tree just off the side of the trail as the sun set. Every thought of something coming to get me in the night was immediately replaced by the thought of the small rabbits I had seen hopping around a few hours earlier. I couldn’t let my mind wander anymore.

The days have already begun to blur.

The gist: wake up with the birds, make coffee, try not to get an eye infection putting in contacts, pack up, and walk. I would stop by a stream for lunch and to filter water. Then proceed to my camp for the night simultaneously hoping for other people to join while also not wanting to talk to anyone. I was lonely but too exhausted for new faces. I wanted to set up my tent and shed some tears. So that’s what I did.

I told myself I couldn’t contemplate quitting until I hit mile 50. I hit the 50 but not without encountering Charlie, he was just a little guy but had 3 of us leaping through brush to get around him. I wasn’t ready to quit but decided to reevaluate at 100.

During those first few days, I had met some people here and there but was hiking slower than most, so the thought of a trail family this early on seemed improbable. The hikers that started a day later than me had already caught up and I was beating myself up about it. I knew I needed to start slow with 8-9 miles a day if I wanted to be successful so I was sticking to my plan, even if that meant I had to be alone 90% of the time. The desert was more vertical than imagined during this first week. My left pinky toe is an entire blister and my shoulders feel bruised. But I’m content. The unknown is becoming natural and beautiful, yet maybe even more terrifying.

Things changed after I reached Mt. Laguna. For the worse and for the better.

Stay tuned for my next update to read about facing one of the scariest experiences of my life, a new potential trail name, and the beginning of a trail family.

You can subscribe to my blog below or follow me on instagram.



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.

What Do You Think?