Weeks 2-3: The Desert Trials

In the last couple of weeks, my journey from Julian to Big Bear Lake took me through “desert” in all its forms, across what is arguably the most challenging part of this section. These last 170 miles were about more than progress; they were about finding my rhythm and settling into my new life.

So What Does A Typical Day Look Like?

Now that I’ve been at this thru-hiking thing for three weeks, I’ve developed new routines. A new normal.


Every day starts around 6-6:30am without an alarm, unless we’ve decided to leave camp together early due to the day’s challenges. I quickly pack up my tent and gear, grab a protein bar, and start my day.


My afternoons revolve around water sources. Despite the desert, water carries have been manageable, rarely more than 2L. My breaks are frequent, aimed at resting and refueling with snacks like bars, nuts, and tortillas with peanut butter.


By 5-6 pm, I typically wrap up my hike at a predetermined campsite. As everyone in the group rolls in, I pitch my tent, make my “bed”, prepare dinner, and relax. Meals vary between ramen, instant rice with beans, a dehydrated meal, or something fancier packed out of town. I jot down notes about my day before turning in by 8 pm, ensuring I get enough rest for the next day’s trek.

My home!

Some Highlights and Challenges

These weeks have tested me, but also brought great rewards. My mental and physical fortitude was pushed, and I am proud of coming out stronger.

San Jacinto Wilderness and Summit Push

Entering the San Jacinto wilderness was a highlight, with a pre-sunrise start offering breathtaking views of Palm Springs. The climb was tough, full of steep trails, blowdowns, and exposed paths. Reaching the summit of Mt. San Jacinto was exhilarating—a true test of endurance rewarded with incredible vistas.

Views from Mt. San Jacinto summit

Fuller Ridge (aka the Slip ‘n Slide)

The same day as the summit, I faced Fuller Ridge. The trail, slippery from melting snow, proved to be a brutal test of resilience. After numerous falls, none of which hurt much more than my ego, I rested in the sun at a nearby campground, reflecting on the day’s trials.

Mission Creek and the Poop Virus

The section around Mission Creek, damaged by a hurricane, required careful navigation and rock-hopping. To combat the risk of Norovirus which had been going around, our group treated all water and practiced rigorous hygiene, successfully avoiding illness as we maneuvered through this challenging stretch.

Hours and hours of walking on this!

It’s About the People

They say that thru-hiking is about the people, and that statement has felt very true. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself forming bonds with people I’ve barely known for three weeks. When you’re doing something like this, you realize that there’s something deep down that ties you together. Sharing both the struggles and triumphs with fellow hikers has deepened my appreciation for this journey. The community we’ve built supports each other through everything the trail throws at us.

A beautiful bunch I would say

Every day, every mile, every challenge is shared and becomes part of our collective memory on the PCT. I’m thankful for the companionship and look forward to the continued camaraderie as we face whatever lies ahead.

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