Rainy Start: Campo to Lake Morena
Miles 0 – 20
Starting the trail was a little different than I had imagined. I arrived at Campo around 7:30 a.m. after being dropped off somewhere on a dirt road by my Uber driver. He said he didn’t want to get his car dirty and that he wasn’t going to drive any farther. When I got out of the car, he offered me some water and said, “Good luck.” My backpack was so heavy. I somehow managed to hoist it onto my shoulders and then got out my Garmin InReach, hoping to find the monument. The dirt roads weaved in and out of the shrubby landscape, but I could see the wall that separates Mexico and the US, so I headed in that direction. When I arrived at the monument, it was eerily quiet and there wasn’t a soul around. I checked the register and confirmed that I was in fact the only person starting so early that day. The sky was gray and promised rain and a chill from the lack of sunshine. It was March 7, 2019, and I knew that it would be a little colder than an April or May start date, but I was secretly hoping that the weather would be forgiving. It was not.
Again, I had to use my GPS to find the trail. Once I did start on the trail, it was surreal. The first part of the trail was mostly washed out by days of rain, and I had to hop from side to side to keep my balance. I felt like a Ninja Warrior at the start of every course when they have to jump from one platform to the next. Eventually, the trail evened out and it was a little bit easier to trod along. The first mile went by in a flash and I passed a tiny stream that slowly trickled across the trail. I suddenly realized that four liters of water was probably overkill. You hear so many stories of people running out of water on the first day, and I didn’t want to be that guy. I must have passed at least five water sources before I got to Hauser Creek. The trail was so lush and green; rocks were covered in moss and wildflowers were springing up everywhere. I knew right away that this was going to be a very special year to hike the PCT.
Around noon I stopped to take a long break and take off my shoes. The sun came out and it was amazing. As I was reclining on a rock I met two PCT hikers and then a third. We introduced ourselves and chatted about the excitement of it all. The three of them decided to camp at around mile ten, so I said my goodbyes and pressed on to Hauser Creek. I would not see them again. I arrived at Hauser Creek around 6 p.m., just as the sun was setting. The last half mile down to the creek was insanely steep and I managed to wipe out once and slide on my butt. Of course, my legs were tired and wobbly after a long first day.
The next day it rained and I was thankful that my brother met me and we got a cabin in Lake Morena. We went fishing and cooked some steaks. I quickly realized that I had way too much food in my pack. Especially after visiting the Malt Shop for a burger and breakfast burrito. My brother took some of the food and gear that I decided to abandon, which was awesome because it made my pack considerably lighter.
I was able to get a few things at the Malt Shop like a fuel canister and some mini liquor bottles (coconut rum and Fireball). Then I was on my way. Off to Mount Laguna on a frozen trail.
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