For those who want a short summary of our trek so far:

Chapter 1  This isn’t so bad… WHAT IS THAT AND WHY DOES IT HURT

Chapter 2  How essential oils, turmeric, stretching, and prosciutto saved my life

Chapter 3  So this is the desert

Chapter 4  If we hike 47 miles in the next 30 hours we can sleep in a bed

Chapter 5  Why I would never recommend the PCT to someone I love

Chapter 6 The countercultural movement created by the PCT

To those who want more detail:

Chapter 1  This isn’t so bad… WHAT IS THAT AND WHY DOES IT HURT

The day started rainy, the misty kind of rain that keeps you cool but not uncomfortable.  Passing stream after stream I began to wonder why I had 8 liters of water in my pack and was glad that our other water bag got left behind.  The unseasonable wet spring Campo, CA was recieving made the landscape many shades of green and vibrant flower colors instead of the dry yellow I was expecting from the desert.  Ten miles into the hike and 100 pictures later we were feeling strong and young.  However, after charging up a steep mountain with too much water weight I thought I had broken my knee and dislocated my hip.  Setting up camp 400 feet above Lake Morena we found an incredibly comfortable campsite surrounded by mountain brush to protect us from the wind and provide leaf cushioned bedding.  Setting up the tarp in the enclosed space was a challenge and then realizing our synthetic quilt was a little two small for absolute coverage was kind of sad.  Relizing it was going to be a cold night was very uncomfortable.  Hearing the tarp, our only protection from the outside world, russling with the wind sounded like someone or something curiously pulling up the tarp to maliously look inside was scary.  Feeling every joint in my body falling apart and burining from missuse was demolarizing.  That night, due to sleep delerium or a cumpilation of all the uncomforts of cold, inflimation, change, and unkowing, I realized we were going to bail out of the PCT after day one.  We hiked 18 miles today.IMG_6491

Chapter 2  How essential oils, turmeric, stretching, and proscuitto saved my life

It took alot of time to leave camp, we had to stretch, warm up, utilize essential oil therapy, and try to eliviate aches through massage.  Everything still hurt, Jade was starting to feel a little discomfort in her hips but mostly from tossing and turning all night.  I handed over my water weight to Jade who had a lighter pack weight and we started depending on water reports of the trail up ahead limiting how much water we were carring in between sources.  We were hiking at a pretty good pace and really enjoying the landscape and weather, the sun was breaking through the clouds and there was still alot of green.  We reached our target campsite, next to a valley spring and ran into some PCTers we hiked with half of the first day.  The mentioned that this area was supposed to be a really cold place to camp and they were going to push on to be closer to a town outside of Mt. Laguna.  We had a hard time the first night sleeping because of the cold so we decided to keep going… and going… and going.  It seemed the wind had picked up and the temperature had dropped another 10 degrees from the night before.  It might have been borderline dangerous for us to try to sleep in the conditions as unprepared as we were.  We ate homemade prosciutto, it was great. Next thing we knew we were a couple miles from town and most importantly, lodging.  The promise of a warm bed was irresitable.  I think of myself as tough and durable and independent.  It was all a rouse, I love comfort, I love depending on technology, I love being fragile.  Finaly we got into town.  Everything was closed.  No bed, no post office, no warm food.  It was 10 at night.  We walked through the dark town and the dark attached to us.  We returned to the trail, hiked another mile, found a better campsite and used our tarp as a wind block and went to sleep.  We hiked 25 miles today.IMG_65953ACFCEFF-91F6-4F06-8EB5-0465A2640050

Chapter 3  So this is the desert

We have been drinking as much water as we wanted, at times our back up water was as low as 1 liter because of so many springs and streams.  The fill ups were going to start becoming 7- 10 miles apart.  We filled up at Pioneer Mail Picnic Area out of a horse trough warning that the water source was not potable, we used our steri-pen.  Directly afterward a man headed the opposite way on the PCT stopped us and made sure we filled up and warned us it was going to be in the 90s the next couple days.  We aimed to hike to mile 68, we got to 65 and slept on rocks.  It was the second hardest night to sleep. We hiked 22 miles today.

Chapter 4  If we hike 47 miles in the next 30 hours we can sleep in a bed

After looking at the map and doing so math we realized we could make it to Warner Springs, our first resupply, by Saturday before the post office closed at 1:30 pm.  This would mean we could ship back some unneeded supplies we were carrying and spend half of Saturday and all of Sunday resting our deteriorating joints.  It also meant we would have to travel 45 miles in 34 hours.  We walked 1.2 miles off the trail to fill up at the last place before a “claimed” 32 mile waterless stretch. Then we met the dessert. Ferns were replaced with spiny cacti and brown, dead grass. Someone changed the color contrast down to a dull, mouth drying brown. The wind whipped through while we were in the mountains giving some relief to the burning sun overhead. The sun, no longer blunted by clouds gave out inescapable heat. After climbing down into the valley, even the comfort of wind was taken away. Jade and I were talking less and trying to kill time via podcasts. After 8 miles we came to a laminated piece of paper promising ice cream, burgers, and a swimming pool just 4 miles down the road, in the opposite way we were going. We stood there for a couple minutes wondering and debating. Then stayed on the trail. Another PCTer behind us did the same. Another mile into the PCT and we came upon a water cache that was supplied by the local community. It was wonderful.  We reached our target campsite which we picked because it had water by it.  When we got there we realized the water was 0.6 miles off the trail.  It was 11 pm and we were going to need to wake up at 330 am to get to Warner Springs on time and didn’t want to take the extra time or walk the extra miles to get to the water.  There would be water 10 miles the next day and we had about 3 liters of water.  Walking at night in the desert we picked up a horny toad (actually very soft), crossed paths with a baby rattlesnake (I almost picked it up till I noticed the weird pattern, cat eyes, and pouched mouth), saw what must have been the worlds smallest scorpion, picked up a newt, and saw about a billion fluffy desert mice.  We hiked 28 miles today.IMG_6634IMG_6619

Chapter 5  Why I would never recommend the PCT to someone I love

We were allowed to sleep till 330 am but because of a sudden gust of cold air that didn’t give up we woke up at 230 and started walking.  It was hard.  There was no joy.  The night before I realized walking when your circle of vision is limited to 6 feet and you have no context for where you are, simply trying to stumble foward on a two food wide path sucks.  We had two more hours of this with no sleep.  The landscape no longer inspired me, I hated the pain, the walking, and the stupid heat.  The five mile breaks didn’t seem long enough and were more of a tease.  Passing people on the trail still asleep made things worse.  Who were we competing with and why?  The last ten miles  was the hottest, most painful, and just horrible. “This American Life” is all that got me through it, Jade didn’t have that podcast.  I don’t know how she made it through.  The count down started at 9 miles to Warner Springs.  8, we saw a coyote, he looked mangy and hot.  7, just hot.  6, still just hot, is there really a town out here?  5, break time, after starting again we walk past a spring 100 feet away from where we stopped and couldn’t enjoy it.  4, at least we where under shade.  3, fuck this shade and fuck this trail.  2, Jade thought I said 2 a mile ago.  1, we should see light at the end of the tunnel but neither of us did.  0.  We hiked 19 miles today.IMG_6572IMG_6636

Chapter 6 The countercultural movement created by the PCT

We are staying in the field of Warner Springs community center with about 20 to 30 PCTers at any given day.  PCTers are weird.  They are not all the same but there is a similarity to all of them.  They don’t necessarily relish change but embrace it.  They are open and sharing.  A group of PCTers may be sitting together laughing and telling stories and have just met seconds ago for the first time.  The stories are of adventures on the PCT or some other trail, stories about other PCTers ahead or behind, and stories of current pain and injury.  They are very unjudgy.  There are these things called hiker boxes, they are filled to the brim with brand new shoes and others camper gear that people got rid of for a lighter pack.  And you can take anything you want from them for free.  Some people hike the PCT dependent on these boxes for food and gear.  Today I got a brand new bottle of propane for our stove.  There is so much there.  The community center provides bucket showers, free wifi, transportation, and air conditioned space.  But more than that it provides a meeting place for others PCTers.  Here kinship is developed.  I don’t know if these relationships will remain after the trail or to what level of involment.  But thats not the kind of question a PCTer is concerned with.  The trail runs through geographical space but there are also people on the trail and experiences off the trail.  I’m finding that the PCT is as much about the people and experiences as the hiking and landscape.  It’s a strange but comfortable thing.  We hiked 0 miles.IMG_6535

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