First 5 Days on the PCT

Wow wow wow I can’t believe I’ve already been out here for 5 days! Minus some minor aches and pains, I’ve been loving every second of it and having the time of my life. The scenery, the weather, and the people have all been truly amazing and I feel forever grateful for this experience.

Let me start from the beginning. My best friend, Karen, so generously agreed to hike with me for the first two weeks. We flew into San Diego and had two days to hang out before venturing on our trek. Despite lots of advice to check out the zoo, we bummed a surfboard from our Airbnb host and went surfing in La Jolla instead (sorry Grandpa and Aunt Wendy). We spent the next day getting our food supplies organized and getting logistics in order. All day I was experiencing feelings of nervousness and excitement, excitement and nervousness. Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow!

I woke up the next morning with my stomach in a wrench but my heart so full of joy it could explode. Our Uber driver, a hiker himself, talked the whole way (I mean the whole way) of tips on hiking the PCT all the way to the southern terminus in Campo, CA. “Ehh you’ll be fine,” he said, “at least you know more than that girl in Wild.” And just like that, he dropped us off at the Mexican border. Walking up to the monument of the southern terminus was surreal. I’ve been dreaming of this moment for so long. It’s finally here. I took my picture, signed the registry, and then started my first steps on the PCT.

The first day was everything I anticipated. Hot, elevation gains, interesting people. I loved every second. That night, we camped at a tent site with about 10 other thru hikers. As we ate our dehydrated dinners, we made good conversation as we all have something in common. We all are crazy enough to undertake something like this (except for Karen but we’re trying to convince her to stay!).

The next day was a little bit rougher. The soreness and the overuse aches and pains started to kick in. You start to question every single item in your pack. Maybe I could get a toothbrush half the size and cut down .001 ounce and THAT would make this pain in my left shoulder go away right? After a while, you forget about that, and the reality of what you’re doing sets in. I get to be outside every day! I get to hike every day! I get to camp every night! I get to meet new people every day!

The unexpected shops and cafes along the way have also been life-giving. Some may say we have not done enough research to know that there were breakfast burritos on day 2 and hamburgers on day 3, but I like the spontaneity of it all. Don’t worry Dad, we have enough food to last till the next resupply. Trail angels and trail magic have also been a godsend. Finding gallons of water randomly in the dead heat of the day makes you appreciate all the little joys in life.

We have met some good buds along the way. My favorite is this guy named Doc. His pack is more full of herbal medicine and teas than food and he has lived in like 8 different countries. We made a goal to do 10 push-ups everyday day during our rest breaks (we’ll see how long that lasts).

Day 4 was my favorite. The whole trail followed a ridgeline along the mountains of Anza-Borrego State Park. Around every corner was another spectacular view. Morning of day 5, we hiked 9 miles to the crossroads to either keep going or to hitch into Julian to resupply. We originally planned to keep going to the next resupply, Montezuma Market, but a trail angel told us the market burned down literally that morning (no one was hurt thank the good lord). How lucky are we to have found that out at the crossroads to Julian? We had no other choice than to hitch a ride into town, resupply, take a shower, do some laundry, eat some free pie from a place called Mom’s and sleep in a real bed.

I have no idea what to expect for the next 2,576 miles but if it’s anything like the first 77, I am so stoked to find out. Here’s to taking in every moment, appreciating all the little joys in life, meeting awesome people, and embarking on a journey of a lifetime.

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Comments 9

  • Brad Spencer : Apr 19th

    Emily, this is so cool. I hope that you carry a small piece of Canterbury with you on the trail. I imagine you have many supporters.
    Best wishes,

    Bras Spencer

  • JhonYermo : Apr 19th

    Way to go. Well written. Simply had to subscribe. Especially since I am an Ex-Bombinghamian ! Looking forward to al your postings thx in advance

  • Just Bob : Apr 19th

    Good story so far! LOVE Mom”s in Julian !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Wendy Walters : Apr 19th

    So cool! I forgive you for not going to the zoo 😉

  • Ralph and Debbie : Apr 20th

    OOHH!! You’ve caught my attention! Dreamt of doing this trail for sometime. Would love to follow along. Be well and safe.
    The Crandell’s

  • Ralph and Debbie. Canada : Apr 20th

    OOHH!! You’ve caught my attention! Dreamt of doing this trail for sometime. Would love to follow along. Be well and safe.
    The Crandell’s

  • Robert crane : Apr 21st

    Just retired three years ago thinking of the wonderful times on the trail!
    Am considering it myself!

  • John Scott"Dishdog" Campbell : Apr 23rd

    I hiked the PCT in 1998. I hiked from Campo to Central Oregon. I had a solar panel on my backpack and recorded 28 hours of digital video. Perhaps the first ever to do so. I never really did anything with the video. Someday I’m going to make some sort of independent film. But of course I’ve been saying that for 25 years lol


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