Blog Archive

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The End

Day 152 11/12
Mileage 11

That's all, folks. We woke, we walked, and we finished. We took a nice long break in Campo, a mile before the end, reluctant to be done. As we walked up the hill to the border, I felt like I was in a dream. It really seemed unreal. But there, on the top of the hill, stood the terminus, illuminated from behind by the afternoon sun. Then, we were there, and it was over. I'm going home.

Winding Down

Day 151 11/10
Mileage 20.7
Camped at mile 11.36

So, this is it. The end. Tonight is our last night on trail. Even as I write this, I don't believe it, even a little bit. This journey that has been years in the planning a goal that has stuck with me no matter what, is over. Having direction is so easy when that direction is as simple as "south". There aren't any trail markers for what comes next. No maps, no Halfmile app for my life. Life on trail is immediate. Your concerns are food, water, and miles. There are no looming deadlines besides those determined by your goals and your supplies. There's nothing on the trail that I "should" be doing. I just walk, just because I want to. It's simple, and the trail provides. The trail has taken on a personality to me, becoming as much a guide and companion as another person. It meanders through the topography of the landscape in familiar and predictable ways. The trail pushes me, never taking the easy route, presenting challenge, adversity, and pain, but also joy, beauty, and fulfillment. By the last few months of the hike, I could feel instinctually where the trail was going. After dark, when I struggled to see the trail and often couldn't figure out where it went by sight, I found that my feet already knew, with no input from my thoughts, and led me on, never doubting their course for a second. The trail really has a way of tempting you to just go and see what's around that next bend. It seems almost playful in a way. After tomorrow, my trail will be harder to see. Sometimes it won't be there at all. The PCT brought me this far, and now I'll continue my hike wherever my feet choose to lead me. I'm blazing my own trail now.

Anyway, we slept in today, until 6! Luxurious. Easy hiking to Lake Morena, and I savored every step. Except the ones through the deep sand, I won't really miss those as much. The scenery was lovely, golden mountains with just a little haze about them. We stayed up pretty late (it's 8:30!) talking about life and stuff, watching the meteors. Tomorrow is the last day. 11 easy miles to the border and that's it. "Reality day", as Jake aptly put it. Now that the end is here, I'm not so sure I'm ready for it. I am ready for consistent access to a couch, though. It's bittersweet.

¿Por que no?

Last campsite

The Last Push

Day 150 11/9
Mileage 30
Camped at Fred Canyon

Today was our last big push. Out of camp at 5:45 to a pleasantly green section of the trail. There were splendid views all day, as we were traversing some pretty steep hillsides. We filled water from a spigot in a picnic area around 9 miles in. The leaves there were in the last stages of yellow and had mostly already fallen. It looks and feels like late fall. The season's change is visible everywhere, besides the daytime temperature. It's still very hot, though I'm told it'll be cooling soon. The trail paralleled a road, with numerous picnic areas, so we saw a lot of people today. It was weird seeing all those outsiders in what now felt like our home. They all recognized that we're almost done and were all enthusiastic and encouraging. We reached Mt. Laguna, ate a pie, sodas, chips, dip, and two pints of ice cream, and loitered for a while. The second part of the day was nice and vegetated, and the scenery was very nice. The views to the south began to open up, and we caught our first glimpses of Mexico! Wow. It's the first time on this trip looking south into mountains we won't be climbing. We talked for a while about what we'll miss most about the trail, how to balance the trail and our other lives, etc. The hike ended with a game of trail jeopardy. Tomorrow, we only have 20 miles, 10 the day after that, and that's it. I have some thoughtful and sentimental things to say about that, but I'm too exhausted to continue righting right now.

We like pie


We walked, it was hot.

Day 149 11/8
Mileage 30
Camped at mile 61.51

Today was another difficult day. We had a total of almost 7000 feet of climbing over our 30 miles. It was noticeably hotter today, with afternoon temps (during the day's biggest climb, go figure) soaring up to an astronomical 97 degrees. We stopped at scissors crossing for lunch and blissful shade under the freeway. Then, we blazed up our last big climb of the trail. It felt surreal. But it got real quickly after dinner as we hit one of the steepest climbs I've seen on the trail, and I felt like I had been suckerpunched in the gut. The day ended on a plateau of sorts, with short shrubs providing a bit of shelter at our campsite. The lights of a city are visible below us in the distance, so far removed from us. I'm trying to savor this feeling of being so removed from civilization.

You love to see that

Trolling the bridge

The Desert-now pointier than ever!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Last Resupply, Gee Whiz.

Day 148 11/7
Mileage 28
Camped at Third Gate Water Cache

Our last resupply was easy. There sure wasn't much in Warner Springs to distract us from hiking. After getting back on trail, we crossed some wide-open prairie-like grasslands and stopped at Eagle Rock, which really does look like an eagle. As it got dark, we stopped for dinner and continued another 7 tough miles, which were hard mostly because I was so darn sleepy. I do love the desert at night, though. The moonlight changes the feel of the landscape dramatically, making it feel otherworldly and mysterious. The moonlight was again absurdly bright, and at 8:30, we stumbled down, half asleep already, to the awesome water cache where we're sleeping tonight. The admirable people who stock this cache pack in gallons upon gallons of water three miles uphill so we can stay hydrated. Wow. Just wow.

Last box!

Lovely Oaks

I think it looks more like a kestrel...

Just plain walkin'

Desert Moonhiking

Day 147 11/6
Mileage 30.5
Camped at mile 118.6

Last night's wind calmed down this morning, and we awoke to the very first rays of the sunrise. We hiked quickly over this morning's rolling hills, which really felt like the desert. Cacti, agave, and yucca dotted the landscape. Large boulders punctuated the vegetation every few hundred yards. Thanks to Arctic Fox's keen ears, we narrowly avoided an unfortunate encounter with an enormous swarm of wasps. Dodged a bullet there. The trail turned gradually uphill, and we followed the contour of the mountain as we slowly climbed. We grabbed water to last us to Warner Springs at trail angel Mike's house. To our left, the moon began to rise, full and yellow, over the mountains. When it got dark, we stopped to eat dinner, and continued our hike by moonlight, which was more than enough to see by. Last resupply tomorrow. What?

No, that's not the sun

The Road to Paradise

Day 146 11/5
Mileage 20
Camped at mile 149.05

We managed to tear ourselves away from Idyllwild this morning, somehow. After coffee, we headed on down the road to bypass the Mountain Fire trail closure. It was dirt for a while, which was nice, and turned to pavement, leaving my feet and legs in quite a state. You can just feel your legs wearing out when you walk on pavement. However, it was all worth it when we arrived at the legendary Paradise Valley Café, lauded as having the best burger on the entire PCT. I am inclined to agree. It was a friendly, delicious place, and it too was hard to leave. I find myself really dragging my feet as the end looms nearer. We have less than a week left, which really blows my mind. Anyway, back on trail (no matter how much I don't want to leave a town stop, I'm always happy when I get back to walking) we played some games, laughed a bunch, and arrived at our planned campsite before we knew it. It's now 5:30, dark, and I'm down for the count.

Walking that road