My stay in San Diego with Kristin was absolutely wonderful. She was happy to host me, feed me, let me use her shower, and then drive me out to the trail Thursday morning!
We chatted Wednesday night away about all kinds of things we are both into, including hiking of course. She told me about her volunteer gig as a search and rescue person for the San Diego area, we talked about books, she told me about all the fun things I need to do and I told her about all the fun things she needs to do.
Kristin, THANK YOU SO MUCH! You made this incredible thing that I’m doing so much more amazing. So, thank you, again. And to Tony, who found Kristin for me, thanks again!
I started the trail about 9:30 on Thursday morning. (I switched shirts before starting walking cause that blue one is my camp/town shirt). The first day was full of bliss. I love the desert, and, even though this isn’t anywhere near as grand as the Grand Canyon or as dramatic as Death Valley, it made me happy.
At mile 1, I ran into a guy named Morgan who I spent a decent amount of time with. Haven’t seen him since day 1, but we talked about his job as a government contractor in terrorism information for a bit as we passed each other back and forth through the day.
A few miles later, around mile 5, I ran into Kathy and Joe and Betty. I spent the next 2 miles walking and talking with Kathy. Kathy is from Canada, and is hiking about a month of the trail to see if she wants to quit her job next year and attempt the whole thing. We talked about all manner of outdoors activities, including about her very real crush on Alex Honnold.
At mile 6.9, I realized that I did not have my phone on me.. I remembered having it at a stream crossing at mile 4.4, but never after that. I also remembered putting it, not so carefully, in my shoulder strap pocket right around there, and then proceeding to gleefully jog about 500 feet because, um, I don’t know exactly. I think because I had seen someone sitting on a rock up the trail a ways and I wanted to catch up to them, probably.
Anyways, I dropped my pack at 6.9, jogged backwards past Joe, and then Betty, and then Morgan, none of which had seen my phone. I got all the way back to 4.4, and, sure enough, there was my phone, sitting upside-down in the dirt. No harm done, besides adding an extra 5 miles of trail running to my first day. Suddenly, getting 15 trail miles in seemed a bit more daunting.
Which ended up being totally fine, as I happened across a small camping area with 3 tent sites that already had a Kathy and a Joe with tents set up. It was only 3:30, but 11 miles with a pack on, plus 5 miles of trail running added up to an exhausting day. I decided to stay the night with them. Betty showed up a bit later, and two more groups passed us by before nightfall. “Spacious” (the first trail name of the trip), a girl from Berlin, Germany also ended up squeezing in with us that night under her tarp. We mostly chatted about our walks that day, and Kathy and I continued some of our conversations we had gotten into earlier. I rehydrated my first batch of quinoa and beans (cooked and then dehydrated for the journey) and ate a few other snacks. When Joe started snoring around 6:30, we all decided to hit the hay.
Day 2 was probably a bit ambitious. I decided I wanted to get to around mile 30 or so, which meant 19 trail miles to cover. And, keeping with my brand new tradition of adding miles to my journey, Kathy and I, after leaving camp together that morning missed a turn and added 4 miles to our walk, this time with packs on. Ooph.
We met Ruby when we got back on the trail, though! Ruby had left us numerous smiley faces carved into the mud with a trekking pole the prior day. She ended up being the youngest of the Bennet family, a family of 8 + a doggo. They are planning on trekking the whole way to Canada together! GO BENNETS!
We started on a big uphill soon thereafter, and I took off, leaving Kathy and the Bennets behind. The rest of the day was spent hiking mostly solo. Here are some pics, the real reason you’re here, I know.
Filtering some water before leving camp in the morning.
A campground outside of Lake Morena that cruised right thorugh (after using their PCT hiker port-a-potty).
The trail around what used to be the Morena Reservoir since destroyed by massive rains that took out the dam many years ago.
Resting my feet, and my eyes midway through the day. 8 miles still to go to get to camp at mile 32.
Some wetlands at the bottom of the valley had some green grass!!
..and a cool bridge, with my first creek crossing!
Second creek crossing required a little more effort than the first that I was able to jump over.
When I finally arrived at mile 32, I was exhausted. The last couple of miles were full of yelling and grunting and much trudging. 25 miles, with the 4 mile add-on, proved to be a bit much for me..
Luckily, when I arrived in camp, there were two super friendly gentlemen, Paco and Hernandez. Hernandez offered me a couple of still warm burritos and Paco shared a few gulps of his tea. That lightened up my mood a bit. And then.. I popped my sleeping pad. I accidentally put some weight on it when it was on the ground and it ended up with a nice 2 inch gash on the bottom side. Oops. I tried my best to patch it up with the kit that came with it. We shall see tonight if that worked. I didn’t test it last night.
But, the good news! I was totally warm even though it got down to the mid 20s, even without the sleeping pad (typically an essential layer of insulation between me and the ground). I hope that means I’ll be OK for the coming week or so of cold weather.
This morning of day 3, I ended up covering around 11 miles I think to get to Mount Laguna. The scenery this morning was the best yet!!
Leaving the lowlands behind for a bit.
The plants here are so wonderful, and year round!
All the way up to almost 6000 ft of elevation for my first snow!
I snagged a burger and fries at Pine House Cafe and Tavern. The burger was you’re average burger, but the fries were just a vat of salty goodness. Guess I need a bit more salt in my diet if I was able to eat that whole pile.
When I got up from the table to head to the restroom a few minutes ago, I relized just how much my feet hurt. I plan to head down the street to the lodge to pick up a package from Emily back home in Brooklyn. It’s my sun hoody, and boy and am I happy to have another layer! If, after a quick nap, my feet feel a bit better, I’ll continue on for a bit, but no more than 6 more miles are in my future for today.
Shoutout to Emily, my love, for supporting me while I’m out here doing this. The whole food prep thing, along with some real-world logistics, has been a bit of a full-time job for her the past couple of days, while she’s been recovering from mouth surgery. So, thank you Emily!! I love you, always.
Ta-ta, for now! Wish me luck in the cold!