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!!


Near Mt. Laguna



Eagle Rock, just south of Warner Springs


Being an eagle at Eagle Rock




Mid-afternoon siesta




I found a funny camo hat and some interesting sunglasses






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!!


5 thoughts on “The first 100 miles…

  1. Hooray!

    Just so you know, all of us at the Symphony are thinking about you too! In fact, Jennifer and I were starting to get worried because we hadn’t heard from you in a while. Ness kept telling us to calm down and that everything was okay. I guess he was right. 😉

    Love the photos, love the stories — keep ’em coming.

    And keep on trucking…. you can do it!

    Love to you both!

  2. I love it when the cactus are in bloom; such a vibrant yellow. Julia we all miss you so much too! And I know that all the time I stop and wonder…where are they now on their mighty trek. Just to keep you informed Jessika had her baby. His name is James, he is adorable. Rest of us are hanging in. Love you, and of course Phil too. Loved you reading under the shade of a scrub. Jb

  3. Julia and Phil! I’ve been checking this blog every single day, and was so excited to see an update. You can imagine how I think about you, too, from my 11th floor office perch in New York City. When its around 9:30 am here (6:30 am your time) and I’m walking through the traffic and high rise apartment buildings, I think about how you’re probably already on the trail, tramping through the dust and cacti, and how the sun must already be getting hot.

    Julia, the sunglasses and camo hat are amazing finds. I love the photo of your afternoon siesta. You look so at home there, lounging in your desert living room. What gear did you decide to send back? Now that I’m officially obsessed with the PCT, I’m looking at everyone’s gear lists on their trail blogs.

    Your photo at Eagle Rock also looks suspiciously like some I’ve seen of you as a velociraptor.

    All my love,


  4. Team PJ-
    Thanks for bringing geography alive this past week for Marina who is learning the names, spelling and location of the western United States. We talked about your route and looked at your photos!

    That certainly was a precarious perch for your tent. Was it comfy? By the time you reply this will be so out of date, so 100 miles ago!

    Keep the wonderful photos coming,

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