Starting the PCT “Aggressively”
Make sure it’s cold, wet, and raining!
I woke up on April 22, at 4:22 at base camp near the Southern Terminus (the start of the PCT). Honestly, I woke up sick to my stomach. I don’t know if my stomach hurt because I was nervous or just the fact that I absolutely despise mornings.
The original plan was to hike 20 miles into Lake Morena. Most of the research I had done said the water was pretty scarce. Fully prepped for no water, we started out our day. After a few moments it began to rain… and it never stopped. The trailside bushes had been slightly overgrown, drenched with water, hiking through them was like our own personal car wash.
We did 10 miles before 10 and attempted our first break to rejuvenate. As I sat down all I could do was shiver and think how bad my nipples hurt from the cold. Naturally, as most cold hikers say, the heat is in the hike, so we trudged on to stay warm.
Magic Man greeted us with a big smile and cold Gatorade at around 2:30. He also gave us directions for the campground and sent us on our way for my birthday milkshake!!
When we got to our campsite we talked to some hikers for a bit, but the mist was so heavy, we receded into our tent and watched the new Winter Soldier instead.
Overall, the rain had a big part in us being able to finish our first 20-mile day.
Obviously, 20 on day one is pretty gnarly. With that in mind, we slept in till 7 and listened to what our bodies wanted to accomplish today. It was weird: Guthook made it look like we were going up all day but I could have sworn the day was overall FLAT. Maybe my expectations were skewed due to the vast ups and downs on the Appalachian Trail, maybe the endorphins are taking control of my logic.
Made it to Kitchen Creek around 1 and spent 30 minutes wading around in the deliciously cold water to cool off. Some jokes were made about surrounding mountains. We would point to them and say that we’d go straight up them if we were on the A.T. We finished 14 miles and made plans to roll into Mount Laguna the following morning.
I love seeing the cacti bloom, I think to myself while I’m packing up camp at 4 am. I also love toilets! Thus far I have not had to poop in the wilderness. We are calling it brown blazing. Now If this already a phrase I apologize to the first person who coined it but man there are a lot of toilets in the first 100 miles!
When we got to the outskirts of town there was trail magic set up with hot coffee, breakfast, and snacks for the trail. They were super friendly and welcoming, as soon as we got to the real town I did not get the same vibe. I think Mount Laguna is growing tired of hikers.
We hiked 18 miles today, and we are finally starting to see more hikers. The biggest trend I’m seeing thus far amongst hikers is the want to push miles to stay with other people. If I can share one insight, it is that in the beginning figure out what works for you and your body not for others. Pushing too hard is what causes people to get injured and get off trail early.
All in all the first three days were amazing and horrible just as they should be. That type two kind of fun that you talk about for life. I look forward to being more miserable and having more fun further down the trail!
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