Cindy and I began our thru-hike attempt on Tuesday, April 14th. One week later we were picked up in Warner Springs to return to San Diego and attend the kickoff at Lake Morena before resuming the trail. Here's the trip report for that one-week, 110 mile walk.
We made it to the trailhead in Campo at about 7am. The forecast called for 20-30 mph winds later, but it was calm in the morning.
After taking photos at the monument and border fence, and saying our goodbyes, we started walking north on the PCT. It was strange and exciting to actually be walking the trail after so many months of preperation.
It didn't talk long for me to make my first dumb decision. We both began the walk wearing our Vibram Fivefingers KSOs, planning on switching to our shoes after several miles. We've been wearing our Fivefingers a lot lately and we feel like they are really good for our feet, so we were hoping to use them often on the PCT to give our feet some occasional relief from shoes.
Well, I got carried away and wore them for 11 miles, ignoring some pains that developed. What I got for this was matching blisters on both feet between my big and second toes. Arg, I hadn't gotten a single blister in training since switching to Injinji socks many months ago. We both switched to our trailrunners and walked on.
The weather was perfect for walking and we made it Lake Morena with no further issues. That climb out of Hauser Creek is kinda brutal, though! First day, 21 miles.
After registering at the Lake Morena CG, the weather rolled in. The forecasted winds arrived, along with some rain, and we got an early test getting our tarp up in adverse conditions. The tarp (MLD Grace Duo) went up and stayed up and we settled in for dinner.
We met our first other thru-hiker when Pi, an AT thru-hiker, showed up and began wrestling with his tarp. Pi was hiking southbound from somewhere north of Warner Springs. He was going to Campo tomorrow where he'd turn around and begin his thru-hike. We'd see him again 6 days later.
Day two was very windy, but we were treated to some great views. We put in 14 miles and camped in a nice little nook in the chaparral that offered great protection from the wind.
It must have been a cold night, as ice formed on the bivy, but we were cozy in our bags. That was reassuring.
On day 3 we hiked the 9 miles to Mt. Laguna and called it a day. The last couple miles into Mt. Laguna were a pleasant surprise, as the desert scenery and rocks turned to pine forest and soft trail. It was just what we needed.
Day 4 took us 15 miles and definitely back into the desert. We found a nice creek running just off the trail that was not listed in the guides and were able to avoid a 1 mile detour for horse-trough water.
On the fourth night we had quite a bit of condensation in our double bivy, as we would for every remaining night this week. It was never enough to lead to a cold night, but we just can't seem to get it under control. We're going to try switching to the Tarptent after Warner Springs.
On day five our good luck with water ran out and we were forced to drink the frightening water from the Rodriguez Spur water tank. Unfortunately I had read a hiker's blog who had been at the tank a couple weeks earlier when they had pulled dead rats and mice from it. Ick!
Funny video from the water tank here!
With 9 miles to go to Scissors Crossing and no water, we had little choice, and after chemical treatment and filtering we did our best not to think about it!
We hiked to the Scissors Crossing water cache, which had over 100 gallons (Thanks trail angels!) and made camp about a 1/2 mile up the trail for a 19 mile day.
On day 6 we hiked the 11 miles to the 3rd gate water cache and called it an early day. Pi caught up to us, and we hung out at the cache with several other hikers.
The morning of our 7th day, we met a thru-hiker going by the trailname "Stinkybutt." He had left Scissors Crossing with his non-thru-hiking friend Scott, but Scott hadn't made it to the cache that night. Stinkybutt expressed concern over Scott's pack-weight, which was apparently, uh, really heavy. We said we'd keep an eye out.
We made it to Barrel Spring mid-day and settled in for a long break. After a couple hours a slightly bedraggled but very nice Scott showed up under a giant pack.
It turns out Scott lives in San Diego, where we were heading after Warner Springs, and we gladly offered him a ride which he gladly accepted. As I was struggling with shaving using soap and cold spring water, Scott pulled out a huge aerosol can of shaving gel!!! Awesome!
The three of us hiked the remaining distance to Warner Springs, the last hour in the dark, to complete an 18 mile day and the first week of our PCT thru.
We'll be rejoining the trail this Tuesday. We're posting updates daily via whatever technology necessary on our blog at walk2650.com if anyone wants to follow along!