PCT Week 1: Campo to Julian
Well at mile 77 I’ve officially surpassed my previous longest trip, which was the High Sierra Trail at around 71 miles. This past week of hiking has been full of lessons, beautiful views, snakes, and lots of Skurka beans. I definitely haven’t dialed in my blood sugar strategy yet as you’ll see in the graphs that look like elevation charts but I’ll figure it out eventually!
Day 1: Campo to Hauser Creek, 15.85 miles
After a lovely evening staying with a friend that lives by the terminus, my husband and dog drove my brother and I to the start of the trail. After goodbyes and picking up our PCT hangtag, we set off!
It was a hot day but the desert was full of lilac bushes and all sorts of blooming flora. Water sources were surprisingly plentiful and unseasonably flowing.
I stupidly ignored hot spots forming on my toes (rookie move and I know better!) and thus hobbled into camp at Hauser Creek in the evening after some extra mileage thanks to a couple wrong turns.
Day 2: Hauser Creek to Kitchen Creek, 15.38 miles
We woke up early for a cool climb out of camp. This 1000ft + climb would be brutal as soon as the exposed slopes started getting sun so we were glad to knock it out in the morning.
Later that morning we made it into Lake Morena and paid a visit to the Oak Shores Malt Shop. Yes please to a cheeseburger and shake for second breakfast!
That afternoon we encountered our first creek that required shoes off under the highway.
We continued climbing through the afternoon and made it to a campsite above Kitchen Creek. We took an amazing dip in the falls before turning in for the night.
This was a…fun night. I hadn’t staked my tent super well and it collapsed on me in the middle of the night. Then once I was asleep I was awoken by beeps to see that I had gone low. Then because I fell back asleep in my stomach, I had a compression low (when the sensor falsely thinks you’re low) and all my devices screamed at me. But still loving being out here and wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Day 3: Kitchen Creek to Mt. Laguna, 13.84
Today the baby blisters all decided to quickly mature into fully grown adults. But it was ok because we were going to stay the night in a real bed in Mt. Laguna!
We hustled our way through the increasingly less deserty hills and finally made our way into pine trees.
Once we rolled into town, we hit up the Pine House Tavern for a well earned cheeseburger and beers. Then we settled into our tiny house next door for the night and performed minor surgery on our feet.
Day 4: Mt. Laguna to dry campsite, 18.47 miles
This was not a happy foot day but OMG hello views! We had almost non-stop sweeping views of the Anza Borrego desert, rolling chaparral hills, distant mountains, and our future giant San Jacinto.
We had a long water carry spanning that night’s camp and not too many campsite options so we ended up doing a pretty long day. My feet progressively got more painful, with the blisters somehow still multiplying. The views helped propel me though and I slowly hobbled into our camp for the night looking like my dad before he replaced both his knees. Nothing mac and cheese couldn’t fix!
We saw a huge silver snake! Not a rattler though.
Day 5: Dry campsite to dry campsite, 13.86 miles
We got a late start out of camp as I nursed my oozing feet. We had a couple long water carries but ultimately wanted to camp as close to scissors crossing as possible so that we could grab an early hitch into Julian.
Despite the foot pain and soaring temperatures, it was a beautiful day full of flowering yuccas, wildflowers, and desert views.
I knew that this level of foot and blister pain was not sustainable and resolved to do SOMETHING about it in Julian…after Mom’s Pie of course.
We hiked the whole day with Hummingbird, who we named based on his love of sugary electrolyte water and gummies, and the three of us camped among boulders. Since we were trying to conserve water, we opted for a pop tart dinner.
Day 6: Dry campsite to Scissors Crossing and Julian, 3.91 miles
It’s town day!!!! We quickly hiked the ~4 miles to the highway and fully expected to wait awhile for a hitch but a trail angel was waiting there to give rides!
Our first stop was the post office for our resupply box, then the gear shop where we both ended up buying (gasp) Altras to give our swollen, blistered feet some room to stretch out. My feet have already gone up a couple sizes! Eek!
With hours before check in at our hotel, we hung out at the brewery and got some cold beers and snacks. The break for our feet was welcome and we saw a bunch of people that we’ve leap frogged with the last week. I even got a chance to finally paint a bit.
Overall, we are having a blast. The people are amazing and the trail is just absolutely beautiful. We’ve had our share of trials and errors, but we’re learning and that’s what it’s all about! My homemade breakfasts have been INSANELY GOOD. Ready to get back on trail tonight!
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