From Campo to Idyllwild: The ultimate 14 Days Free Trial Phase
Forget about Instagram coaches and sketchy online courses that promise to share the secrets of success in life with you as long as you are willing to spend money for their completely overprized rates. Go, take a walk on the Pacific Crest Trail instead! It’ll be tough, but a real life changer and if you like it, you can extend your stay beyond 14 days – FOR FREE (at least kind of)!
But first, the numbers!
By now, I hit the two-weeks-in marker and have 169 miles under my belt, including two zero (= no mileage hiked) and two nero (= little mileage hiked) days, meaning I made it from the Southern Terminus at the Mexican border up to the beautiful little town of Idyllwild. I felt like a champion with only four blisters so far, but gotta admit that I had to upgrade my shoes already once and am now part of the Altra family (a.k.a. looking like the average thru-hiker now and went up from a Women‘s 9 to a Men‘s 10 – obviously the shoes are way larger than my actual size to allow room for swelling, but still: can my feet please please decide not to grow any further?! Thanks!). Next to that I saw total 5 snakes, including two not so lil’ rattlers, and have ever since ruminated about how horrible your existence must be if everyone’s always scared or just wants to avoid you. Dear little danger noodles, I promise to try to be as polite as possible with each of you that I encounter in the future.
I spare you any details on my number of catholes, but am happy to share that I had 10 snickers in two weeks (and am about to hate them already) and 0 notable sunburns. For those who know me in person: I also tried to keep record of the times I cried, but gave up on that information a couple of days in. But hey, it‘s keeps my face skin hydrated and having an amazing glow, I guess!
HYdrate or DIEdrate: The constant fight with the elements
Once you are out there, Mother Nature‘s got you in her hands. Oh, and how tight she will hold you from time to time! Particularly the first couple of days welcomed us with a lot of sun, little shade and temperatures around 28 degrees Celsius. One thing you’ll learn in no time is stretching your water supply from source to source and keep good track of your level of hydration. I think I have never participated in a peeing competition, but we shared some good laughter about the amount of times we had to go to the loo (which is a good sign of …hydration, CORRECT!). Conditions changed a bit after a couple of days, temperatures lowered, winds came up and made me look like an idiot multiple times while trying to stake my tent properly (ugh – not to forget the secret superpower of finding the right tent spot. I forgot how many nights I’ve rolled off my sleeping pad because I had chosen a skewed area … AGAIN!). Besides the enormous amounts of snow that are yet to come, the PCT thru-hiker is normally blessed with sunny, dry weather. Except on my day seven where I hit the 100 miles marker, but also completely soaked in five hours of rain and wind – and suddenly needed to find ways to stay warm and avoid hypothermia while a few days earlier I struggled to stay hydrated. New day, new surprise – either way, it doesn’t get boring, for sure!
Take a ride on the rollercoaster of emotions … and another one … aaand another one!
Okay – this paragraph may not apply to every thru-hiker out there, at least not yet. Since I am the biggest emotional sponge out there anyhow (I soak it all in, then get squeezed by whichever circumstances and you can watch aaaall the emotions pour out of me in the most beautiful ways), I was not surprised to be uber hyped for the first days, amazed by everything I saw and experienced, which was then followed by a first day of doubts and questioning if I am doing the right thing out here – realizing it was a breakfast burrito that gave my stomach nightmare cramps, the exhaustion of the first week (and no zero until then) together with a badly done food resupply that annoyed me after two days already, made it more bearable and the thoughts vanished after a day (reuniting with some of my trail mates I met in the first week of the hike played a major role as well). However, when I thought I couldn’t become a bigger crybaby anymore, the trail proved me wrong: I am crying. Because the mountains are beautiful, because my guyline broke, because I got an encouraging text from a friend, because I almost killed a butterfly (by accident!), because of a song in my playlist, because flowers. Lucky enough, most of those moments are connected to happiness, gratitude or pure awe. But damn … I hope that shit gets better with time, otherwise this will be another record year for me on that aspect.
Where is the love? HERE is the love!
The Pacific Crest Trail is spectacular – the landscape, different terrains, the views. It is breathtakingly beautiful, but that was somewhat expected. The real magic though can be found in the numerous little moments that every thru-hiker will encounter in their own unique way: the trail magic in shape of a trail angel called Bad Santa who pulls up at Mount Laguna campground and provides your group with fresh fruits, candy and a cold beer on a sunny afternoon, your first trail mates and the funny but also sometimes scary situations that you live through together, the sour calves once you reach camp after your first 20 miles day, going to bed at 6.30 PM and sleeping straight until sunrise, the way instant loaded mashed potatoes taste after you hiked uphill all day … there is a bazillion little things coming to my mind, but all I can say for now is: 14 days trial phase is over and after a zero day in Idyllwild, I already feel gravitating back towards the trail again.
And what one lucky lil’ thing I am: There are another 2.481 miles of type 2 fun left to discover…
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