250 miles later

Hello dear friends!! I have been very negligent in posting on this blog!! Somehow 250 miles have slipped by and we are now in Wrightwood, CA at mile 369. So much has happened since the last post in Warner Springs, it’s overwhelming to think about trying to recount it all. I’ll try to keep it simple, and perhaps brief, as the Wrightwood Library computer is giving me a 30 minute time limit.

Wow, where to start? This has definitely been an adventure so far. It is an incredible opportunity and experience, but it has its fair share of challenging moments. I find I need to remind myself every day that we are CHOOSING to be here and that I should probably stop complaining about my heavy pack, hurting feet, or the boiling (or freezing) temperatures. The past few hundred miles have seen it all: high points and low points (both emotional and literal), 100 degree days and 25 mile waterless sections, snow and freezing temperatures, idyllic mountain towns, barren stretches of desert, and endless mountains. We’ll finish with one mountain pass just to round a bend and see that another awaits us, or finish descending 8,000 feet into a desert basin just to see that another, larger climb is next. The terrain is constantly changing and is constantly up and down. I have moments where I get pointlessly frustrated and mad at the trail, the rocks, the trees, even the little lizards that frequently dart in front of me. Why are we out here walking all day, anyway? What what will we gain from it? But, amidst the frustration, there are so many moments in each day that make it worth it. We’re seeing SO much of the West Coast, and we’re still only in Southern California. The beauty of our surroundings is overwhelming. All we have to do is walk each day, and that affords so much time for thinking and reflecting. It is really an incredible gift. And, we are meeting so many unique, interesting, and amazing people along the way.

After Warner Springs, we hiked about 70 miles through some of the hottest temperatures to Idyllwild, an extremely cute little town nestled in the San Bernadino mountains. During these days, I developed horrible blisters on the tops of both my big toes, and one blister started to get infected. We decided to take a day off in Idyllwild to give the infection some time to heal, which it did (thankfully!!). After Idyllwild we hiked about 5 days to the town of Big Bear (mile 266). AAHHH unfortunately my time on this computer is running short! I will illustrate the rest of this post through pictures. Sorry for the short post! I’ll try not to let so much time pass until the next one. Next town up is Agua Dulce, mile 454, where I think we’ll take a day off. I miss all of you dear friends and family members, and hope everyone is doing well. Thank you ALL for your support and love!!

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Beautiful evening light hiking out of Warner Springs

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Desert and mountains, mile 130ish maybe?

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13 miles of the trail was closed due to a fire from last year, forcing us to do a very boring 30 mile detour

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Phil hiked to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto, the 2nd highest peak in southern CA at 10,800ish feet. It had SNOWED the night before.

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Phil with Mt. San Jacinto in the background

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COLD. Stark contrast to the stifling heat the day before.

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Dinner stop during a huge descent from the San Bernadino mountains, post-Idyllwild

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Trail magic with SODA (I am obsessed with soda now) under the Interstate 10 overpass

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SO HOT THAT DAY. Also hiking in sand is not fun.

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Too hot to walk uphill

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Beautiful evening, the night before getting into Big Bear, with San Jacinto in the distance.

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Yet another beautiful evening. Right outside Big Bear, CA (mile 266).

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Huge rattlesnake, chilling right on the trail in front of us. We waited a full 5 minutes before he decided to move and let us pass.

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SIGN TO MCDONALD’S. HAD BEEN DREAMING OF THIS FOR THE PAST 5 DAYS. Seriously. At mile 342 we cross Hwy 15 and there’s a McDonald’s and a gas station 1/2 mile from the trail. Micky D’s is pretty much the ONLY thing anyone talked about for the 5 days from Big Bear to this point. I’m not normally a big fast food lover, but my meal there was pretty much the most amazing thing ever. We had contests to see who could eat the most calories (I called it good after about 2,500)…

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After spending 5 hour at McDonald’s it was still 100 degrees out (literally). We gathered under the Hwy 15 overpass, where it was very cool and pleasant.

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Phil is fueled by his McDonald’s meal and ready to take on the 15-mile climb that is awaiting us.

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In Wrightwood, where I had Brooks Cascadias sent to me!!!! I had been wearing my trusty Mizuno running shoes, but they were done for at this point. I’m making an intense face because I ordered them in size 10.5 and they look like man shoes. My feet are swelling to humongous sizes…

The first 100 miles…

Here I sit in Warner Springs, CA at the community center, which has graciously set itself up to welcome PCT hikers through April and May and offer showers, laundry, meals, and supplies. Amazing!! I am surrounded by vagabond hikers, many young like me and Phil, most looking semi-homeless and haggard (like me and Phil). We’ve made it to mile 110, after about 6 days walking through the desert, mountains, and canyons of southern California. It feels like we’ve been in the wilderness so long, yet it has barely been a week, and we still have 600 miles of desert to cross. The thought is overwhelming… not to mention the thought of traversing 2,650 miles. So far it has been challenging, inspirational, fun, meditative, hard, hot, sweaty, DIRTY (I’m pretty much taking my dirtiness levels to new heights), exhilarating, and extremely beautiful. The beauty of the desert is always there – you kind of become numb to it after a while, especially when you’re hot and tired and out of water and still have another 10 miles to go to complete your 22-mile day. Over the past 4 days, we’ve done over 20 miles each day to get to Warner Springs, crossing the San Felipe Hills (they seem more like mountains), sandy canyons, and chaparral-covered hills. We started last Thursday and only did about 10 miles a day for the first few days. We stopped at the annual Kick-Off party at Lake Morena (mile 20), which was a wonderful, informative party celebrating PCT hiking and gear and full of this year’s hikers, former PCTers, and old veterans just coming to soak it all in. There was a makeshift post office (we sent maybe 10 lbs of stuff home to lighten our packs), a film festival, forums throughout the day on topics ranging from snow to stealth camping to water, and a handful of gear companies there. We met many new friends, several of whom we’ve seen along the trail and are here in this room with me.

On Saturday, after some time at the Kick-Off, we headed north to continue our trek. We made it to our first resupply spot, Mt. Laguna Lodge, on Sunday afternoon. Even after just a few days on the trail, opening that box full of food was like Christmas. The Mt. Laguna area was so beautiful – wooded, high up in the mountains, and more lush than the stark terrain we had just come from.

It feels so weird to not be at work. I think about my co-workers all the time, wonder how they’re doing, check my watch and imagine what they must be doing at that time, think about the deadlines coming up and wish I were there to help. Just so all of you at the Symphony know – I miss you guys so much!!

Now we’re here in Warner Springs to pick up resupply box #2 (fetched this morning from the post office – a second Christmas), and in a few minutes we’ll head back to the trail to continue our quest for Canada. We plan to take it pretty easy today, then resume 20-mile days until we get to Idyllwild, our third resupply point (mile 179). I’ll write again there! For now, we hope everyone at home is doing well and we love you all! 🙂

At the Southern Terminus in Campo, CA, with the Mexican border right behind us. Ready to go!!

At the Southern Terminus in Campo, CA, with the Mexican border right behind us. Ready to go!!

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Near Mt. Laguna

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Eagle Rock, just south of Warner Springs

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Being an eagle at Eagle Rock

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Mid-afternoon siesta

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I found a funny camo hat and some interesting sunglasses

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Creative set-up for our YAMA Mountain Gear tent on night #2. It is SO spacious and light. We get compliments on it every day from fellow hikers. Thank you YAMA!!