Let’s Get This Party Started
We headed down to the Southern Terminus on Saturday, March 25th. It was time to start this epic adventure. Since we live locally in Temecula, my husband will join me on weekend sections of the hike until he is off work for the summer. After we arrived at the terminus, we checked in with the PCT volunteers, signed the register, did a shot of Fireball, took our monument picture, and began walking north. The weather was warming quickly. As we were walking, I couldn’t believe all the water that was on the trail this year compared to last year when I section hiked. We had to do our first water crossing at 4 miles. I didn’t want to explore alternate crossing options due to poison oak being everywhere, it was growing taller than me. After swapping out shoes I felt a hot spot on my foot. I hiked 500 miles of the Colorado Trail without a blister and 4 miles in I was feeling the heat. I put some Glide on and we continued hiking until we reached our first campsite at mile 11. We set up camp, cracked open our warm beer, and then watched the hikers arrive. Before we knew it we had 10 tents surrounding us. There were hikers from all over including France, Germany, and Italy.
We woke with condensation on our tent, drank some coffee, ate a breakfast bar, packed up our soggy tent, and started our hike to Hauser Canyon. There was a trail crew working on the trail in the canyon. Thank you volunteers for helping maintain the trail. The water in the canyon was flowing well. We began our hike up the canyon and saw many hikers struggling with the heat and their first climb with heavy packs. One guy even threw up. We arrived at Lake Morena and headed to the malt shop for a burger and a beer. After lunch we headed back to camp, I said goodbye to my husband, took a shower, and played cards with a friend who was joining me for the first 100 miles.
I woke up around 4 am to pee and my tent was completely frozen. At 6 am the ice began to melt and dripped all over the place. I love single wall tents and I hate single wall tents. We packed up and headed north. We heard there was a water crossing ahead that we could avoid by crossing the bridge. Little did we know a mile later we would have a cold, knee-deep crossing that was unavoidable. Shortly after we arrived at Boulder Oaks campground where we would receive our first trail magic. A friend who section hiked with us last year surprised us with beer, wine, soda, and fruit. Trail magic always makes me happy. The day was rather warm, so after visiting, we continued the climb to Kitchen Creek and onto Fred Canyon for camp for the night. When we arrived at camp there were already about 8 tents set up, so we looked for the most level spots, set up camp, and gathered with other hikers in the sun to stay warm.
We woke up without condensation, packed up, and headed to Mt Laguna. Along our way, we saw our first patches of snow. The trail was mostly clear of snow, but there was some slippery mud to try to get through without sliding. I could smell the pine trees as the wind blew through the trees. The sound and smell made me happy. After we arrived at Mt Laguna, checked into our tiny house for the night, and then headed to the Pine House Tavern for a burger and beer. A friend arrived after lunch with pie and cookies and offered to take us to the Laguna store to get a couple of things to add to our trail food options. Take note, the store and Tavern both close at 5 pm, so we had limited time to get things done. There was an option to do laundry, we thought we would take advantage and get the first layer of dirt off our clothes. After we were all clean we headed to bed.
There was a snow storm on the way, so we headed out on the trail to get 11.5 miles in before 1 pm. The wind was strong, we were walking sideways and we were getting blown around with even stronger gusts, around 10 am the rain started. It was cold, wet, windy, and miserable. Since we were close to Sunrise Highway we got on the road and began our hitch. It was quiet on the road with little traffic and to avoid becoming hypothermic, we continued walking. A car drove by and waved at us. Then another car stopped and asked where we were headed and we replied to Julian. She said that was 20 miles away and we were fucked and then drove off. Well, that wasn’t very nice. Finally nearly 1.5 miles of walking the road a car stopped and drove us to Julian. We checked into our hotel, had pie, and then headed to Julian Beer Co. We sat at the PCT table where the Belgium group of hikers had been drinking all day. They couldn’t pour the pitcher of beer into their glass. Please send help. Then a guy shows up and gives them a whole pie with ice cream. They open the box and start eating it like starving PCT hikers would. Then the guy comes back with 4 more whole pies. They open them and everyone at the table had pie. I laughed so hard that my cheeks and my stomach hurt. It was a good night with the people.
I didn’t sleep very well as the snow plow went up and down the road with the flashing lights. In the morning we peeked out the hotel window to see a winter wonderland. Isn’t it spring?! We wanted to head back out to the trail after the snow stopped. The forecast said it would end around 1 pm. As the day went on, it snowed, and snowed, and then snowed some more. We were taking our first zero. We got some more pie, went to the gear shop, played cards, ate lunch, and then headed to Tucker Peak Lodge for the night. Oh my! We had a hostel-type house with a fireplace and pool table. In our room, we had 2 beds, a fireplace, and a jacuzzi tub. Score!
We woke up to sunny skies. Most hikers were headed out to the snow-covered trails, but due to the schedule of my husband joining me again on the trail for the weekend, we took one more zero. We headed to Regulars Wanted for a huge breakfast burrito and then played more cards. I bought Uno Flip back at Lake Morena to help with the downtime on the trail since I was going to only be hiking 10-15 miles to allow my legs to adjust to life on the trail. That afternoon my friend and I said our goodbyes as she headed out on the trail with her sisters and then my husband joined me in Julian. Saturday we would head back to Pioneer Mail and hike to Scissors together. The first week has been adventure. More is yet to come.
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