It’s day 6 and we have made it to our first town!
So how has it been out here in the desert? Well, it’s a roller coaster of emotions for sure but in a wonderful and satisfying way.
To start us off, Our friends drove and camped with us near the trail so we could get an early start on our first day. That first day was beautiful and flat, with a lot more vegetation than we pictured. Our excitement was knocked back a bit at our first rattlesnake encounter as we remembered the realistic dangers of this trail. It was the first one we had ever seen so close, but after rattling it slithered away leaving us feeling better. Later in the day I came about 5 feet from another rattlesnake that was just as shocked to see me as I was to see it. I jumped back and warned the others I was with. Apparently I really pissed it off because it continued rattling for about 5 minutes without us even in sight. Since it was only a foot or so from the skinny trail without room to go around we stood dumbfounded. After a bit, our friend Robert took a stick and pushed it away from the trail so we could get around. Phew. We camped at 15 miles and after we set up about 7 other hikers came to join. We had a social buzz with it being the first day and all so it was nice to meet some new people.
Day 2: The morning was great, again with more lush vegetation. We stopped mid afternoon for what we have named ‘halfy hour.’ That includes a nice mixed drink of electrolytes.
I was not so gung-ho for the second half of the day as it felt so hot without any shade. We wanted to stop at the falls but we ended up missing the side trail where they were. Then we met a couple who said there was water nearby and said there was no way we would miss it. Well… we did. We ended up backtracking only .5 and saw a steep trail down to luxurious looking water. We were pooped for the day, but ate a yummy Pad Thai dehydrated meal that made us feel better. On top of that we soaked and bathed in the water, cleaning the layers of dirt that had already caked on our legs.
Day 3: One of my favorite days, weaving in and out of what reminded me of Colorado hiking. It had big pine trees with the sun shining through so we took many breaks enjoying the views. We met a couple hikers that we hiked with into Mt Laguna with. There we got a lemonade and coffee and enjoyed resting our feet.
Later that night we found a nice camp spot about 5 miles from town and ate some chicken tortillas.
Day 4: I woke up in the middle of the night, feeling exhausted and a little down. Though, when I stepped outside to pee I looked up as saw the most beautiful sky and t immediately changed my mood for the better. I felt great hiking in the cool weather in the morning. We met some of the friendliest hikers, Sam and Chris along with Zach and ‘Hypo.’ We were strategizing our water plan for the next 20 miles since there were very few reliable sources along the way. We carried 5 liters and saw a fun sign telling us only 2600 more miles to Canada!!
We got our first trail magic, icy cold Gatorade… Yes! Then we hiked through these steep cliffs with graffiti on the cliff walls, it was a nice change of scenery.
Day 5: Mentally felt great, using humor to get us through the feeling of our bodies falling apart. We are getting accustomed to either carrying lots of water (5 liters) or walking a chunk off trail to find some. On this day we figured that we would walk the mile off trail to fill up because it’s a long and iffy stretch of hot desert to come. So after 8.5 miles we got to the road crossing where a few hikers were napping in the shade. One of them was an older man that we had previously given water to because he was nearly out. He seemed confused about where to get water and had none left so we offered to fill up his 2 bottles as well. A quarter of the way down I realized I forgot my water filter so I ran back up to get it then met Jake at the bottom. It was a steeper mile than I had thought and it took a bit to figure out where the water was. It was hot and exhausting knowing those miles weren’t even ‘trail miles’ in the right direction but on this trail I’m just pleased to have any water option. We treated ourselves with one of the mountain house meals and that my parents so kindly bought us and that boosted us up. It’s hot the majority of the day so we figured after our meal we would keep trekking and get to camp early. When we got to camp it was windy as we were on the top off mountain but our feet were on fire so we figured it was worth it. In the middle of the night we woke up to the tent whipping us around. The tent walls were slapping us in the face and we were holding it up with our hands. We decided to get up and hike at 330 am just as we heard a snap on our tent. I’ve never packed up so quickly. The 5 miles down we had to work hard not to blow off the trail.