Greetings from Julian, CA, 80 miles up the Pacific Crest Trail! We are taking a much needed rest and recovery day away from the trail in this sleepy little town.
So, remember that solemn realization post I mentioned I might write from the desert?
Well, here it is- a summary of my week 1 on the Pacific Crest Trail:
The Dirtiest We’ve Ever Been
We’ve been able to take more showers that I imagined (3 in the first week), but our dirt tans deepen with each day.
The dirt finds its way into our socks, coating even the tips of our toes. The dirt is in our pores, our nose, the lines and crevices of my hands.
We also smell pretty horrible, but I won’t go into that.
In less than a week we’ve forged friendships with other thru hikers. Strong bonds form quickly on the trail, as hikers rally together in the midst of a shared experience.
So Many Pains
Despite my ample weekend hiking experience, adjusting to walking full-time, all day, everyday has been a pain- literally. Make that: pains.
So many pains, with each day a new part of my legs and feet complaining. It’s had us dipping into our “emergency” med kit far earlier than we ever thought we’d need to.
The SoCal desert is no joke. Just a few hours and 6 miles into day 1, I was rocking back and fourth, head in hands and vomiting onto a nice, big rock. The splitting headache was making it pretty hard to think about anything, but one thought kept going through my head, What have I gotten myself into?
Heat exhaustion, that’s what. Not the way I’d imagined my first day on the trail going.
To top it off, I’m fairly certain that my favorite new piece of gear, my ExOfficio SolCool Hoodie, is partly to blame for it. I’m a freak of nature who barely sweats, so my skin wasn’t able to wet the shirt and activate its supposed cooling properties. Instead I baked inside of it until I was dizzy and sick.
Luckily, the sun was close to going down, and I was able to make the last 3 miles to our campsite and reset the next day.
But that’s not all!
- Blisters: My hiking nemesis; I kept these watery pillows of pain at bay for only 15 miles, and ever since they’ve been stabbing me on every step. And we’ve been averaging about 26,000 steps a day to put it into context. I found solace in the fact that other hikers have them too, and that no new major ones have formed.
- Knee pain: Ugh. This showed up after our first high mileage day. “No, thank you,” said my knees.
- Ankle pain: This began on the morning of day 5, and is the reason we’re taking a zero after a near-o in Julian.
Seasoned hikers have implied that all of this will subside gradually over the next few weeks and the next couple of hundred miles. Yes, multiple hundreds of miles.
We’re at mile 80 right now.
“Smiles, not miles,” a thru hiker from last year told us stragglers. Basically, go slow now, or you’ll be sitting out with a more serious injury later down the trail. I sure hope you’re right, hiker man.
But enough of that.
Beauty and Majesty, Straight Up
Aside from my lower appendages begging for mercy, the trail has been an awesome experience and hasn’t disappointed in terms of wildlife and natural scenery.
We’ll let these photos do the explaining: