Final steps in the Southern California section (Miles 267-702)

Adjusting to life on the trail came easier than getting used to my trail name. “Sprinkles, what do you think?” someone would ask, and I’d think, Sprinkles?? Oh wait, that’s me! But now, I confidently introduce myself as Sprinkles. Embracing trail life was smooth and hiking as daily job felt naturally real quick. Especially with the FarOut app for navigation and all my gear on my back, walking through Southern California was quite a breeze, and now I’ve begun the Sierra Nevada section. Time for an update on my experiences!

Snake sightings 

Encountering snakes on the trail became routine, and they no longer scared me. One desert day, though, I saw a snake in an odd position. On closer inspection, I realized it was eating a lizard! It was a cruel yet fascinating scene, and I felt like being in a documentary narrated by David Attenborough. After an hour of observing, I continued my hike, more cautious than ever for snakes.

Rest in peace lizard

Sleeping in a cave

Rain is rare here, quite the contrast from the Netherlands where I’m from. One evening, it did rain, and I remembered reading about a large nearby cave where people had slept before. Perfect timing, I thought, so I didn’t have to set up my tent in the rain. Excited, I ran through paths to find the cave. By the time I arrived, the rain had stopped, but I decided to stay anyway. The cave offered beautiful views and a stunning sunset, making it a memorable night.

Views waking up in the cave

The LA aqueduct

A well-known section of the PCT is the LA Aqueduct, often tackled at night to avoid the heat and reduce water carries. With a group of 8 hikers we planned to leave in the late afternoon and hike through the night to arrive sometime after midnight at the next water source. I’d never hiked in the night before, aside from early morning mountain climbs. The night started beautifully with a sunset and great company. The last miles were tough, and the next day, with little sleep, I was the slowest hiker ever. I prefer sleeping right after sunset, realizing I need a lot of sleep for an energetic day. So I guess night hiking isn’t for me, and I’m glad I didn’t face extreme desert heat. 

Crew for the LA aquaduct 

The kindness in Tehachapi 

Trail life has been a reflection of the kind of person I aspire to be, and meeting people along the way has been inspiring. A great example is Rachel, a trail angel in Tehachapi. I posted a request for help with an interview for a PhD in the Tehachapi Trail Angels Facebook group. I was amazed by the community’s response! Rachel was one of the people offering to help, and I stayed with her for a weekend. She provided more than I could have hoped for—a bed, a laptop for preparation, great discussions, wise words, and delicious food. She even helped me resupply and welcomed my injured hiking friend. 

My new friend Rachel! 

Realizations on trail

I would like to end with a few realizations I had about myself while hiking in Southern California:

  • Face recognition struggles: I’m terrible at recognizing faces. Many hikers greet me and know my name, and I struggle to place them. Thankfully most hikers wear the same outfit every day, which helps a bit.
  • Clumsiness: It’s a miracle I’ve walked so many miles without injury. Nature distracts me, leading to clumsy actions and falls. The wind is also a major reason for falls, and once, the urgency to pee caused my clumsiest fall. Grateful no one saw that, or I might have earned a different trail name.   
  • Overthinking: I overthink decisions. Seeing others choose alternate routes or wait to enter the Sierra Nevada makes me second-guess my choices. It’s the most stressful part of the trail for me.
  • Enthusiasm for writing: Before starting this blog, I only wrote book reviews for myself and scientific reports for my studies. Writing about my decision to hike the PCT and my preparations ignited a passion. Now, I love reflecting on my experiences and writing about them, even on the trail. I’m already looking forward to sharing my adventures in the Sierra Nevada high mountains. So stay tuned for more updates from Sprinkles on the trail! 

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Comments 1

  • jhony : Jun 9th

    I sure I am glad I followed your blog. So well written and interesting.
    Thank you, and glad to be following vicariously — I am learning lots.

    Reply

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