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! 🙂