I’m not exactly sure how 300 miles zipped by so quickly… i apologize for being “off the grid” for so long! Here’s an update, I’ll try to keep it concise!
These 300 miles gave as much as they took. I climbed over 60,000 feet- I’m getting stronger but I still trudge uphill on big elevation days. They’re slow, I’m can be cranky about the thousands of feet left to climb, but the summit is always satisfying, the ridge line view is always worth the sweat and tired legs.
My days are feeling more routine, this transient hiker lifestyle is become more familiar and “normal”. We spend our days walking, eating, talking about where the next water source is, and hiding from the sun. The sounds of traffic and trains are weirdly alien to me, the sounds of insects and rustling leaves (and water, if I’m lucky!) are more familiar and comforting.
The desert has been kind to us; we’ve been gifted with overcast cool days and strong breezes, dependable water sources and relatively mild weather. It’s surreal to think we’ll be finished with this section in 140 more miles, a mere week. Campo (my starting point) doesn’t feel 566 miles away, but when I stop and reflect on HOW much I’ve seen, climbed, camped, and ate, those miles seem more tangible and real.
Since I’m covering so many miles in this post, I won’t belabor what I saw and did in great detail, but there are a few special places and days that I’ll share.
The Deep Creek Hot Springs: About a day and a half after leaving Big Bear Lake, the PCT runs right past some natural hot springs. I arrived at about 9 am, intending to rest for the hot part of the day, then hike another 10 or 15 miles. After a loooong 23 mile day the previous day, my feet, knees and everything else lovedddd the hot water. The spring gushed out of the hillside at about 106 degrees (say the locals). After a long soak and lunch break, my friends and I decided it was probably time to hike on. We slowly gathered our things and put our shoes on, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to put our packs on. We realized we didn’t haveee to leave, and acknowledged that we had plenty food to make our trek to Wrightwood, even if we stayed. After debating whether we should stay or go for about 30 minutes, we proceeded to take our shoes off, unpack our things, and simply enjoy the magical oasis of the hot springs for the rest of the day. We met some eccentric locals, chatted with some day-trippers kind enough to share snacks, and relaxed in the hot springs of Deep Creek. I slept SO well that night, my feet and body felt great the next few days. It was definitely the best decision.
Night Hiking Cajon Pass: After resting and waiting out the heat at an interstate gas station and McDonald’s (and eating my weight in McFlurries and hashbrowns), my pals and I decided to night hike a 22.5 mile waterless section to avoid the heat and make climbing 5000 feet more manageable. We set out around 7:00 pm and hiked without headlamps for a few hours. It was cool, the sunset was beautiful, and it was SO pleasant. We hiked about 8 miles, found a flat (enough) spot and cowboy camped for a few hours. We got up at 3:30 and continued in the dark, snagging a great sunrise moment and pushing as many miles as possible while it was cool. Night hiking is the best way to enjoy otherwise extremely hot stretches. You don’t need as much water, or breaks as frequently. And it’s fun! You see the landscape in a different way, notice different things…it adds some variety to the relatively stark desert.
Hiker Heaven and Casa de Luna: We hit a couple of notorious, special trail angel houses near Agua Dulce. Hiker Heaven is exactly what it sounds like…heaven. An immensely kind family opens up their home/yard each year to hundreds of hikers, providing showers, laundry and even mail service out of their garage. It was great to have everything we wanted/needed at our fingertips. It was amazing to see SO many hikers filter in and out, like an ant farm of smelly nomadic people bustling around. Just 24 miles past Hiker Heaven is Casa de Luna, an earthy, hippie version of Hiker Heaven. Old sofas, pop up tents, a painting table, and outdoor shower mame for a great hiker landing zone. The family is kind enough to provide dinner and breakfast for hikers (taco salad and pancakes, respectively!). Their back woods are sprinkled with campsites abd painted stones left by hikers; it was surprisingly magical and cozy. The folks that run these pseudo, seasonal hostels are some of the most generous, patient, and attentive people I’ve met. It’s seriously the sweetest luxury to have a soft place to sit, a shower, and a ride to/from the trail.
Hitting 500 miles!: I was SO ecstatic to hit 500 miles! It felt like SUCH an accomplishment and makes hiking to Canada seem more tangible and realistic. We had many dance party moments featuring the song “I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)” by The Proclaimers. It was awesomeeee! One of my favorite, most fun and silly moments on trail!!
There are countless moments and views I wish I could share with you. Each day and section brings a new set of challenges and accomplishments. Some days it’s physical, other days it’s mental (ex. relentless biting flies for 20 miles!). But its all fun and pretty crazy amazing.
Lessons from the Trail:
– Cars are so fast. It’s truly amazing at how quickly you can get places in a car.
– Where there are wind turbines, there is windddd.
– Water is immensely heavy…but such a luxury, and the weight disappears quickly.
I will (most definitely) post again soon! Only 140 miles left of the desert! Keep sending the good vibes and word of encouragement coming! I love every one of ’em! New photos on the photo page!!