Week 1: Cold Feet

Week 1 was full of literal and figurative cold feet.

Literal Cold Feet

The first couple days and nights I was plenty warm, with arms or legs or toes out of the sleeping bag at night and easy shorts weather during the day. The first cold feet came with the knee and thigh-deep river crossings. Sounds more exciting than they were – flow wasn’t too fast so I just switched into sandals, unbuckled hip belt, and waded across. Good, safe intro to the crazier crossings that will come in the Sierras.

The next night was a cold one. My inflatable sleeping mat had recently begun deflating overnight and pre-trail I had patched it, hoping that I’d found and solved the only leak. I was wrong. The cold ground seeped up into my body wherever the deflating pad let my body touch the ground. Fortunately, I was still getting supported by my mom! So, I hopped into the rental car and spent the rest of the night sleeping in the front seat where the seats absorbed and held my body heat instead of leaching it away.

Bright and early the next morning my mom and I took off down the road to Julian, a town that I knew for sure would have thru hiker friendly gear to replace my mat and add a warm later to my kit. The night after, since it was supposed to be even colder, I stayed the night at a hiker hostel in Mt. Laguna. The neighboring restaurant is run by a French pastry chef (or chocolatier? It wasn’t super clear) so I ate well, and polished it off with a chocolate mousse for dessert!

Chocolate mousse from the Pine House Cafe

Chocolate mousse from the Pine House Cafe

Since then, I can positively say that there have been no more night time cold feet – but there have been lots of day time hot feet. For those of you unfamiliar with my feet, they sweat a lot. I blister quite easily because of that. So, my current blister count is two small popped blisters, one quarter sized mambo, and one penny sized blood blister. Since I’ve had worse, and pain is relative, I’ll live. And no, I’m not going to immediately switch shoes – every pair in recent history has given me some kind of blister at some time or another. I am trying out mole foam (as opposed to moleskin) and it seems to be sticking around the mambo, so that’s a win.

Figurative Cold Feet

Looking down from my window seat on the flight from Seattle to San Diego, I could track where over the PCT I was. In 2 hours I flew almost the entire distance that it will take me 5 months to walk. This seemed fairly ridiculous and I couldn’t help but wonder who the heck came up with the idea of hiking it all in one go, and even more, why I thought that it was a good idea. Thinking about it on the plane, I decided that my “why” I’m hiking has different aspects to it, but the idea I have kept coming back to is that there is beauty everywhere, and you just need to be there to see it. So, even on the parts of the trail that don’t feature epic mountain views or lush river valleys, if you take the time to be where you are, with your eyes open, you get to see the tiny little white flowers emerging from the sand, or the fun little California Thrasher dashing across the campsite. So, despite the fact that I question what I am doing at least once a day, I can always come back to those small little good things.

Good Things

Day 1: The yucca flowers are in full bloom and are pretty awesome. As their enormous flower stem grows, it looks a bit like a giant asparagus stalk, so I dubbed them asparagus flowers before I learned what they actually are.

Asparagus flowers are actually yuccas!

Asparagus flowers are actually yuccas!

Day 2: I think due to the wetlands and Lake Morena, my mom and I saw tons of incredibly colorful birds.

Day 3: I got to meet more PCTers today than any other day I think. Lost of folks doing it again, one triple crowner, and a guy who did the CDT last year. That seemed like a crew that is going to crush miles early.

Day 4: Walking up and into Mount Laguna, the pine trees reminded me of the east side of the Cascade Mountains in Washington state, and since I’ve spent a bit of time there, it felt like a little taste of home.

Pine cone of unknown species

Pine cone of unknown species

Day 5: Trail Magic! A couple of lovely trail angels were set up at a parking lot where you have to filter water out of a spigot as your water resupply. Instead, I got to grab not only my water, but also a cold apple juice and a donut and chill in a camp chair for an hour.

Day 6: In camp, I only had one neighbor and, she had a snake fall out of her sleeping mat when she was setting up camp. Not a great thing for her, but since she knew it was a feather boa, not a poisonous species, she called me over to pet it. First time I’ve touched a snake in my memory.

Day 7: The generosity of Julian is amazing! We got free pie at Mom’s pie, a free cider at the cider mill, and easy hitchhiking to and from town from our campground.

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Comments 5

  • Mimi Bertram : Apr 23rd

    I’m wishing we’d had pie for breakfast that day in Julian. Love your trail tales.


  • Irene : Apr 23rd

    Love from Irene and Peggy! Fun fact, yucca are in the asparagus family so you were right on!

    • Heidi : May 13th

      Wow, I’m kinda proud of myself for seeing the similarities then!

  • Maggie Buzzell : Apr 24th

    My grandson (Hornet) and his lady (Flotus) started the PCT on 4/21, maybe you will run into them.

  • Isabelle Bertram : Apr 24th

    Oh man! I just dug up (read: Dan just dug up) a bunch of yucca plants in the back yard. They spread like craaazy! Excited to read more, take care of those feet! <3


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