It Begins…

Miles walked: 42

Audio: the first half of the novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Wow. I can’t believe that I’m actually here, on the Pacific Crest Trail! A lifelong dream, and I’m about 1.5% done! The first day I felt just giddy. I did 11.5 miles solo and took a short break in the heat of the day that turned into an accidental 4-hour nap. It was lovely, but a little unexpected. I ate 6 mango fruit leathers from Target. Also whoops. 

I woke up soaking wet the next morning (I forgot to stake my tent and it had collapsed inwards on me), packed up, and started walking. I held my sleeping bag so it would dry out, and I felt like one of those medieval kings with their huge fur coats as I walked. It was an absolutely gorgeous morning, with fog tangled in the trees and the wet sand reminding me of hikes to Oregon beaches. 

After a massive sandy climb and a beautiful sandy descent, I stumbled into Lake Morena (mile 20). Holy. Moly. At the hiker pavilion, there were at least 15 thru-hikers and 2 trail angels. For the first time on the trail, I didn’t feel discouraged or alone. There were other crazy people hiking with me!

I headed over to the Oak Shores Malt Shop and got a freaking delicious burger, fries, and a shake. Geez maneez! It’s gonna be hard for me not to stop in every town and eat a burger. While I was in the restaurant, I sat with an Australian mom (trail name Nightwalker), her son (I’m thinking his trail name should be Crikey), an AT hiker from North Carolina, a girl from France, and a guy who had just left the Army (trail name Lost Dog). 

(From left to right: Charlene (French), Brenden (Australian), Random Dude (Unknown), Jude (New Hampshire), me, and Tanner (Army). Jenni (Australia) took the photo. I think you can see how happy I am to be with other people!)

Following a hearty lunch and a 20-minute nap, the 6 of us were off! We stopped off at a campground 6 miles later and chatted until it got too dark and cold to be awake anymore. I made absolutely sure to stake my tent that night! Here’s me following Jude as my knees and feet swore profusely. 

The scenery is absolutely beautiful. Unreal, even. I completely forget my aching body when I look up from my feet or pause my audiobook / Spotify playlists. Nature is freaking beautiful. Here, on the PCT, I feel at home. 

We woke up, I ate some Idahoan potatoes (sour cream flavor, yum!), and headed off on a hot and hilly 11-mile hike. The views were stunning, and we took a quick break in the sun. 

That night, I discovered 3 large blisters and watched Jenni cook a quesadilla. It is so wonderful hiking with other people. These 5 have fast become my trail family, and I couldn’t be happier. 

The next morning, we hiked a short 4.5 miles to Mt. Laguna, ate a fantastic breakfast at the Pine Lodge (the mixed chocolate berry muffins were honestly to die for), and decided to take a near-o day (almost a 0 mile day, but not quite) because a huge storm was rolling in and the next 14ish miles are on a ridge and the strong winds could easily blow us off. We rented cabins, had a SHOWER, and stayed up until 10 pm having really deep discussions about police prejudice, religion, relationships… we’ve known each other for less than 2 days, but I truly feel like these people are family! We also ate a whole pie, as ice crusted the trees.

We’re taking another 0 day today. Jenni thinks she’s ripped her fascia (under her foot), and we’re all trying to rest our broken bodies, so we ate a leisurely breakfast at the Lodge, resupplied at the general store, and lounged around for the rest of the day. 

So far, the trail has been infinitely better than I expected. I’ve barely begun, but I’ve found a family, made unforgettable memories, and grown so much as a person. The trail really does change you. I’ve got around 2,610 to go, and I’ve gotta be done before August 30th, but I’m not worried about it. This trail is all about growth and the experience, and not reaching the 4 wooden blocks in Canada. I’m so glad I decided to do this, even though my body is in constant pain and the weather is unpredictable. I’m ready for this trail, for whatever comes. 

P.S. Tanner and Brenden met while Brenden was prepared to sit on his pack and die (he went 5 miles in the wrong direction), and Tanner went blasting past him. Totally confidently walking in the wrong direction. At a fork in the road, Tanner realized he was going in the wrong direction, and he and Brenden eventually figured out where the trail began again. Ha. 

P.P.S. I’ve learned a TON of Australian phrases, most of which I can’t repeat here. :). “Ledge” for legend, “crikey” for any and every situation, “sanga” for sandwich, “banga” for a good song, “cobba” for friend, “ceebs” for being too lazy to do something, “derro” for disgusting people, “send up” for a prank/ joke… and wayyyy too many that I can’t list here. What a week I’ve had.

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Comments 1

  • Holly Miller Jones : May 12th

    Anna, I’m so proud of you hiking the PCT! Thanks for keeping a blog so I can vicariously experience even a tiny part of it. I liked your list of Aussie slang. We hear some of these – but not all – in New Zealand!


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