It’s all coming back, it’s all coming back to me now…
The pack weight, the soreness, the “hiker hobble,” the hunger, the smell, the complete exhaustion, the spam wraps and tuna tacos (topped with CheezIts, of course) and the complete and total joy of being enveloped in the best scenery nature has to offer.
Despite all the familiar pains and tedious tasks that come with thru-hiking, I still feel like I’m falling in love all over again. Over the past few days, it’s like we’ve been walking through a painting, and time is measured in miles once more.
It’s been seven days since my amazing friend, Lauren, drove us from her home in San Diego and dropped us off right at the Mexico border near the small town of Campo, CA. Since then, we’ve hiked 109 miles to Warner Springs.
We left Campo last Friday in a slight drizzle meanwhile carrying far too much water. Our new ultralight backpacks were reaching
an uncomfortable state with 7 L water and 5 days of food pushing the load capacity of 35 lbs. I guess we over prepared for the 20 mile dry stretch to the next water source, but we’d rather be safe than sorry. As we walked, we quickly started noticing differences from our last thru-hike.
I’m sure I’ll write a more formal “Appalachian Trail vs. Pacific Crest Trail” article at a later date, but my mind can’t help but compare the two. So far, the most notable differences are the relaxed grade of the trail itself and the views, views, views. See for yourself…
Over the first two days, we experienced a lot of cloud cover, some rain, and even a little hail which was a bit of a surprise when you’re expecting a full blown desert. But we’ve noticed a big change in weather and environment as we climb up and down the mountains.
While we are loving the steady grade of the trail and the beautiful views, the new challenges so far have been water and exposure. Since we began the trail seven days ago, we’ve already walked through two 20 mile stretches without water meaning we are carrying more water than was ever necessary on the AT. We’re still figuring out exactly the right amount to carry. A good rule of thumb is 1 L per 4-5 miles of walking. With water weighing in at 2.2 lbs per liter, no one wants to carry too much. Of course, carrying too little could lead to emergency situations.
Exposure is our second biggest challenge. While the lack of shade provides incredible views, the sun pours down on us heavily. Surprise, surprise it’s pretty freakin hot in the desert. But we came prepared in our delightfully nerdy outfits that mostly cover us from head to toe..
One of the biggest changes we made for this hike was going ultralight with our gear. It was definitely an inve$tment, but had been totally worth it so far. The physical difference a lightweight pack can make is incredible. (Check out our full gear list here.)
Despite some of the struggles, we are moving right along and are really feeling the groove of life on the trail once more. I guess I’ll just let the pictures tell the story this time. Bottom line, it’s beautiful, hot, sweaty, smelly, and really the only place I want to be.
Here’s to another 2550 miles on the PCT!