Worn Slap Out

A first week celebration was not in the cards for my mom and I. We had to push on! After finishing our seventh night camping at the Pioneer Mail Picnic Area, we had one major thing on our mind. Getting to Julian about 24 miles away.

The Strength of a Woman (aka my mom) 

My mom had a strange rash all over her legs. I was all for getting her out of there because we thought it might be an allergic reaction. “No, I’m fine I want to keep going. It’s not hurting.” My mom insisted. I didn’t argue back, this was her journey as much as it was mine. 

When we woke up on the morning of the eighth day the rash did look a bit better. So continue on we did. The incline out of the Pioneer Mail Picnic Area took us up on a large mountain. The view from the top was stunning with the early morning rays of light glistening from the sandy stone. 

View from climb out of Pioneer Mail Picnic Area

Once we reached the top we found a small pull-off parking area and people heading out on day hikes. It was such a weird feeling to see people that were only going out for the day. They had on small packs with probably a few snacks and a bottle of water. They had no concern about their next water source or where they would shelter for the night. Meanwhile, all of those things were playing through my mind.

What a person will do for a town day…and pie!

After hitting the incline early in the morning we were exhausted, but determination helped us press on to the next water source. We took a siesta with some other hikers under desert shrubs and drank our fill at the next stream. We analyzed my mom’s legs and determined that what she had must be heat rash. I had started to have the same thing coming up under the sock line. Who knew two girls from Texas could be affected by the desert heat? This was more so from hiking almost 12 hours a day in the desert! 

That afternoon we both decided to press 6 more miles, so we could make it to Julian the next day. We were ready for town and needed a break from the heat and dirt. This would be our longest hiking day yet at almost 14 miles. Those 6 miles proved to be one of the most challenging parts of our hike thus far. We went up and over several more mountains, panting with exertion at each climb. I genuinely wondered at one point if we could do it, but our spirits were high with the idea of making it to town the next day. At one of our breaks I went ahead and booked with the Orchard Hill Inn for three nights! Excited was an understatement. 

Our last incline of the day…I think!

After a large drop into the valley we looked up at the road we had to climb to get back out. It was steep and would hopefully be our last climb of the day. My mom and I kept going and after reaching the top we took a short break. “How much further?” She asked. I had been checking the FarOut app (navigation tool) constantly as the sun started to slowly fall below the tops of the mountains. Dark was approaching. “Just a mile and a half more!” That doesn’t sound like much in the scheme of things, but it was the longest mile and a half of my life. I hiked ahead to go ahead and set up camp as my mom crested the hill. 

After we cleaned up and changed into our night clothes we both passed out. Nothing could have woken us up that night. 

Onward to Town!!

The next day was full of excitement as we packed up early that morning. It was going to be an easy day! We were dropping several 1000ft in elevation since Julian sat much lower than the mountain we were on. 

We took off at 6:30AM and really enjoyed the views as we descended. 

Town was on the horizon! And food which we needed very badly since we still hadn’t been eating. The “easy” descent turned out to be lots of down and some challenging ups. The PCT can never make up its mind, but one thing I know for sure is it’s never going to be a nice, flat trail. 

The sun on this portion of the trail going into Julian was brutal and it was the hottest day we had experienced so far. We could see the road in the distance as we finally hit a spot on the mountain that was all descent. Our skin was burning, and I had just ran out of water. I checked the FarOut app and saw we still had two miles. We hit the desert floor in a rush of quick breaths and aching feet. It was flat from here to the road and we made some major time. 

We reached the road around 3:00PM. We were completely exposed to the sun as we attempted to get a hitch into town. There are lots of portions on the PCT where the only way to get into town is to try and get a ride. Stick the thumb out, smile, and hope for the best. There wasn’t much traffic at this time of day and no one was stopping. One lady finally pulled over, but she just asked if we wanted an orange and then drove off. Finally, seeing the predicament we were in with no water and burning up in the sun, I called the adventure store in town for a ride. “Be there in 20!” They said on the other line. We pulled out our sleeping mat to try and block the sun as we waited on the roadway. 

Within the hour we were at our inn taking showers and drinking in as much water as our bodies could carry. We hadn’t eaten all day, but getting clean and cooled off took priority. Once we made it out to the lobby we were met with a huge charcuterie board laid out. “It’s complimentary during happy hour from 4:00-5:30PM” said the woman at the bar. There were stars in my eyes as I loaded up a plate with meats and cheeses. You also get two free drinks! I was dazzled at this place. To go from stinkin’ filthy in the desert with no water, to this beautiful little inn was mind boggling. 

A Little Rest and Relaxation

My mom was leaving in the next two days, so we used that time to explore the little town of Julian and refuel our bodies. This was the most perfect place to spend a double zero. Breakfast at the inn was amazing and the food in town was just as good. 

A caloric masterpiece!

It wasn’t long before our time in town came to an end. I woke up anxiously on the last day, knowing it was time for my mom to leave. I was lucky to have gotten to start this amazing journey with her and we had a blast. Everyday was exhausting in a new way, but when you get to town you start to reflect on everything you have been through. The positives always win out and I felt ready to get back on trail! I am sad to be doing it alone this time, but I know my mom will be taking great care of my puppy back home. 

Parting ways

After meeting so many great people on trail, I think my mom knows I am being left in good hands on the PCT. I got some much needed rest and now it’s time to go back out there and make some more memories! 

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Comments 1

  • Claire : May 14th

    Keep it up Riles! So inspiring. This gets me through my gym workouts-I figure if you can walk up and down mountains I can do a leg lift, lol.


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