Ten Percent Complete, Many Miles To Go
As I hiked the short morning miles to Highway 18 to Big Bear, I felt a sense of peace and belonging wash over me. I realized I am exactly where I am meant to be – on a journey both wholly my own and shared with so many others.
After 265 miles, the Pacific Crest Trail has given me new experiences in scores.
My first night “cowboy camping,” a phrase that refers to sleeping under the stars without a tent, was a bit more exciting than I bargained for. Just as it got dark, my friend Chewy spotted a tarantula heading out for its evening stroll a couple feet from our sleeping bags. After much squealing and debate over whether to move spots and even a quick google search of “are southern California’s tarantulas venomous?” we scooted over a few more feet and called it safe. In the end, I slept like a log, and at least to my knowledge, neither of us had a furry arachnidian cuddle buddy.
The idea of no tent walls protecting me from outside was quite far out of my comfort zone, but I’ve come around to love the ease of set up in the evening and take down in the morning. The best part, however, is the unmarred views. From ridges overlooking fire-scarred valleys to riverside embankments with 360 degree views of the starry night sky, we’ve been rich in nocturnal beauty.
I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity for new and slightly scary experiences as a backpacker, especially with so many miles back east under my belt. With the vast ecological diversity our country has to offer, I’m thrilled knowing I can have even more new experiences no matter how “pro” I become.
While climbing up the San Jacinto range above Idyllwild, I started to feel nauseated and weak. I had altitude sickness. The miles upon that range were some of the hardest I’ve experienced in a very long time. The illness, coupled with some very long and heavy water carries, absolutely killed my usually speedy pace. I had to take breaks far more often than I was used to and started to doubt if I would ever make it to my intended campsite. Morale was low.
My dear friend Dirty Mike, a member of my 2021 Appalachian Trail tramily who has joined me for the first portion of my PCT journey, became my proverbial life raft. He hiked with me, keeping a slow but very steady pace, and never complained about all the breaks I needed. At times, I felt like a stubborn toddler being dragged along by a patient but determined parent. In the end, we made it to our goal campsite below the spur trail to the peak of San Jacinto just before sunset. Camaraderie, compassion, and mutual support are always to be found on trail, just when you need it most.
The huge amount of support from locals around the trail has been incredibly appreciated and slightly staggering. On other trails, it was pretty common to be in a town only a couple dozen miles from the trail and have the locals look at me crazy when I said I was hiking nearby. Out here, it seems everyone knows about the Pacific Crest Trail and are willing to do whatever they can to help. In every town, hitches have been immediate. In Julian, a trail angel let us camp on her property and use her shower and laundry. In Idyllwild, our cabin rental came with loaner clothes. In Big Bear, I was even put in contact with a local woman with a sewing machine that she brought to my motel so I could tighten my hip belt! Best of all, there have been tons of water caches along the trail in dry sections. I feel truly cared about and cheered on in my journey. While I can only complete this trail on my own two feet, it’s the support from family, friends, and strangers that I believe will get me to Canada.
While I’m only ten percent done with this journey, I’m so wildly fortunate and thankful to have done and seen all I have in the past 17 days. If the next 2,385 miles hold just as much abundance of experiences and teachings, I will be the richest woman in the world.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.
Wow!! I just realized that as I sit here in my kitchen, drinking delicious cranberry vanilla tea with honey, that you’re hiking the PCT…RIGHT NOW!!! Like I said, “wow!” I’m not a hiker, hell, I don’t really like to walk. But something draws me to the idea of hiking the PCT…the notion returning to me again and again, each time more obsessive. But, then again, so does the idea of an Alaskan cruise with midnight buffets…YUMMMMM!
Pipen. Thanks from the heart 💚 Perhaps you should add WRITER to your bio? So inspiring for this old guy. Well written! And the PCT “Forget to live” was a real, needed punch in the gut. This PCT day hiker is so happy to have subscribed.
I am saving in my email to read a few more times.