A Kansas City Girl Thrives in Southern California Part I: Avoiding the Sun

Guys- the desert is surprisingly wonderful. There are many redeeming qualities in the desert that make up for the heat, such as scenery, flowers, lizards, the splash factor (for ladies going #1, there is no slash back because you are peeing in sand), and an absolutely beautiful night sky. It’s only been 4 days, but every mile has had views for miles around. Yesterday was my first day seeing what I like to call mountain layers; when you can count the various shades of blues separating mountain distances. And while there are many ways to avoid heat exhaustion, my favorite way is the siesta.

Don’t hike between the hours of 12-4:30.

On day 1, I hiked 20 miles, many of that during the prime sun time. Although I didn’t get ill, it became immediately apparent not to hike when the sun is at its hottest points. Its truly miserable to place one foot in front of the other when the sun is constantly glaring at you. Instead, I’ve been getting up around 4-5am and hiking until noon. For today, that was 15 miles. I arrived at camp around 12:30 and sat under a tree. My hubba hubba ground sheet made a nice little tarp for shade. I stayed in and around that’s tree in the shade until I could stand up and walk around without wishing to be back in the shade. I could’ve done another 5 or so for a nice evening hike, but opted to stay at camp with my quickly forming friends. The siesta is a time to sit in the shade, take your shoes off, eat snacks, socialize, and most importantly hydrate! Even in the mornings though, the sun can still get hot.

Keep your head in the shade at all times.

I knew to do this before the hike because otherwise I’d burn to a crisp! I ran into many other hikers who had heat exhaustion partially from not having shade. There have been rescues since I’ve been out here of people with severe cases, and stories floating around of other instances. For example, my buddy couldn’t keep down water due to heat exhaustion and dehydration. The most popular choice for constant noggin cover that I’ve noticed is a light weight umbrella from Gossamer Gear. Fellow hikers strap it to their packs and bring shade wherever they go. They can also sit under them or stick them in a tree for optimal shade during siesta. Since we have such good views, it’s easy to spot another hiker on trail because all you need look for is a shiny, metallic beacon bobbing along in the distance. In fact, the umbrellas could double for a distress signal when rapidly opened and closed – it’d be impossible for another hiker not to see. I, however, somehow missed the memo and have been sporting a SnapBack with a sarong draped around it. It’s definitely one of the more unique looks around here, but I’m not sunburned or sick!

Other updates:

I started the trail with a good friend who I hiked the last 700 miles of the Appalachian Trail with last year. On day three, she knew the PCT was not for her and I have been since flying solo. I wish her the best!
I have no pct trail name yet, but some of the hikers have started to call me Lizard.

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