What I’ve learned so far

Three weeks of hiking the PCT has taught me some lessons already!

Lesson 1 – Finding a good camping spot

I started out full of energy and excitement and had no thoughts other than enjoying myself and living fully in the moment. It didnt take long to meet up with some same day starters and we hiked out enthusiastically from the Southern Terminus.

I kept thinking I should pinch myself because it all still seemed unreal. My dream was finally coming true. The first few iconic milestones gave me goosebumps and I could feel the adrenaline propelling me forward.

Mile 1

My first night camping was anything other than ideal. I set up on a small spot behind a big boulder where the ground was soft and with a bit of a slope.

Although my tent is small, it has a larger footprint requiring ample space to stretch out the guy lines for a good pitch.

I made the best of the space I had and promtly fell asleep. During the night, in my struggle to stay on the air mattress, I had unknowingly bumped the tent stakes and this caused the tension to loosen and the whole tent collapsed on me, poles and all!

I did manage to get it to stay up for a few more hours but I packed up in a hurry and was back on the trail at first light.

Since my first night camping I have learned to search for less sloped spots and anchor my lines with rocks if the ground is soft.

I have also learned to embrace cowboy camping (no tent required) which I much prefer, especially when there is wind.

Lesson 2 – You will deal with the elements very early on

On day 4 we camped in a beautiful spot right up on a mountain and squeezed our tents inbetween a tiny creek that was flowing close by.

During the night the wind began to blow and although my tent was standing strong the wind was whipping it so hard I kept thinking it would lift from the ground and take off like a parachute across the California desert, never to be seen again.

My two hiking companions seemed quite unperturbed by it and thought it prudent to get up as planned and hike on whereas I felt we should hunker down and hide from the nastiness for the day.

As we hiked out the wind was cold and wet and the gusts sometimes lifted me and my pack off the ground. I am not usually one for the dramatic but I did frequently visualise myself being lifted by a gust, flung over the edge of the mountain, backpack and all tumbling down into oblivion (the desert floor).

The thing that humbled me however was a young guy we met running up the trail, into the wind with nothing more than a light hydration pack and some flag tape that whe was using to presumably find his way back! He smiled and said that it was less windy on the way down.

I realised I was tired and grumpy from not getting any sleep, but I couldn’t shake the thought of just quitting the trail to not have to deal with these less than ideal hiking conditions.

My hiking companion, later fondly known as Snow Angel, was way more positive and encouraging. She never let the weather get her down and I probably annoyed her with my bad attitude but she was kind enough not to show it.

Snow Angel

Lesson 3 – You have to look up sometimes

As I was trudging through the snow on the down slopes of San Jacinto, carefully placing each foot in the holes that hikers had made before me, I was reminded that I should sometimes look up and enjoy the view.

I am amazed at how quickly I have become focused on getting through the miles for the day and counting how many more hours I have to reach the desired campsite.

Only three weeks into my hike and it has already become a task, a job, a goal to accomplish.

However, this hike is so much more than just a goal to reach or a mountain to conquer.

I realise that the big picture is right in front of me, everyday.  And that needs to be appreciated for all its beauty.


I am open to learning more lessons as I continue on my journey and am grateful for these incredible views.





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