The Beginning of a Long Walk

2 weeks on the Pacific Crest Trail

I’m writing this post from Idyllwild, CA, 2 weeks into my hike, looking back and reflecting on my first few weeks on trail. It feels as if I’ve been out here for a lifetime already.

My dad and grandma dropped me off at the southern terminus, right at the border wall separating Mexico and the U.S. It was surreal to see the monument- something I have thought and fantasized about seeing for so long, coming closer and closer into view. When I stood at the wall, about to start my journey, my grandma said to me, “It’s good you want to do something like this,” and I said to her, “I am doing this.”

At the southern Terminus with my Dad and Grandma.

There’s been so many times that I catch myself with a big grin on my face, smiling to myself, thinking about how happy I am. I am doing this. I’m on the Pacific Crest Trail. This is the dream.

I can’t believe this is SoCal!!

The days seem to follow a routine- pack up camp for the morning, quick breakfast on the go, and then start the walking. A few breaks here and there throughout the day to filter water and snack- a long, shoes-off break for lunch. Then some more walking. Set up camp and make dinner. Then off to bed most nights before 9pm.

Campsite view above the clouds on mile 168, on the side of San Juacinto. Overlooking a sea of clouds on one side and a view of Palm Springs on the other.

There’s a focus on the essentials out here. Drinking enough water and eating enough food (and force-feeding yourself if you don’t have an appetite for the first 10 days like me). Sunscreen and chapstick- essentials. Taking care of your feet, stretching your legs. Taking care of your body.

First night cowboy camping under the stars.

It’s incredibly rewarding to have your feet take you miles and miles and miles. It makes the views even better, more rewarding. I mean, I just walked 150 miles across Southern California and I get to walk so many more miles so close to home!

I’ve heard before that it’s the people that make the trail experience worthwhile. And so far, that is an incredibly true statement. On trail, people look out for each other. People grow close bonds and friendships and we learn each others true authentic selves- there’s nowhere to hide out here.

Some friends at Julian Beer Co. enjoying a drink and some dinner before spending the night on the back porch of the American Legion.

The communities surrounding the trail provide. Complete strangers offer food, rides, places to stay, all kind of support- trail magic, it’s called. And they don’t ask anything from hikers. They’re just people who want to help hikers out, who love the trail, and want to take care of its people.

Trail Magic! These amazing folks stopped me with ice cold drinks and homemade snacks for the trail.

I’m looking forward to the coming weeks, and the continued challenges and rewards they will bring. Life is different out here- it’s tough and challenging but so rewarding and beautiful. I’m loving every minute of it.

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Comments 1

  • Val vitols : May 13th

    Hi Darby, how about an interview on the Hikers Dream Show when you get a break?


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