Saturday, April 4, 2015

Day 1: Trail Angels on the First Day

Campo to Lake Morena
20 Miles

My alarm went off at 5 am this morning but I didn't need it. I was wide awake with anticipation. How was today going to go? Could I handle the heat? Would Cori be OK (she was full of nerves)?

We reached the Mexican border at Campo around 7:15. It was 34 degrees outside but the sun rising overhead made the cool morning bearable in my shorts and sun shirt. A few other hikers were already at the trailhead, excitedly strapping on their packs and preparing to head north.

We walked over to the southern terminus PCT monument whose light grey pillars stood out against the tall rusty panels of the Mexican border. Streched out in front of me was a seemingless endless stretch of shrubby green wilderness crisscrossed by by dusty dirt roads which were occupied by the occasional passing border patrol trucks.

After signing the register and taking a few photos at the border we were off.

I was heavy under the weight of my pack. The first 20 miles of the PCT are waterless, so I was carrying six liters (roughly 13 lbs.) of water to get me to Lake Morena, our intended final destination for the evening.

The trail meandered slowly along the edge of a small neighborhood and the eventually turned slightly west bringing us deeper into desert. Our climbs were gradual which was nice and the weather remained relatively cool until 11:00 when the heat started to become unbearable. Around 11:30 we took refuge in some shade to let our feet air out and to let our bodies cool down. This became our routine for the rest of the afternoon. We would hike for about two hours, find shade, air out our feet, snack and hydrate.

We made to Hauser Creek which is a dried up creek bed at mile 15 around 4:00. The was a small water cache in the creek that some nice soul had left for thirsty hikers. We didn't need to utilize it since we started off prepared to make it to Lake Morena but it gave us an opportunity to stop short and camp if we wanted to. After some discussion we decided to push on.

The climb out of Hauser Creek was long, hot, and exposed. I began to question our decision to push on as my heart pounder in my chest and me feet began to throb beneath me. We took it slow, drank plenty of water, and stumbled into Lake Morena Campground around 7 pm.

As we made our way towards the ranger station to check in and pay for a campsite a woman came running over to us. "Are y'all PCT hikers? Yes ma'am" we replied back. "We have plenty of food. Why don't you two come on over and get something to warm to eat. Save your dehydrated stuff for another night." Her name was Cheryl and she was camping with three of her friends. They all worked in the education system and were there relaxing on Spring Break. I was in heaven and no longer regretted our decision to move forward. As we made our plates they also offered us to the chance to camp at their site for the evening which was already paid for.

It was a perfect ending to a tough day.

1 comment:

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