Week Two on the Pacific Crest Trail

In Pacific Crest Trail Journal, Travel by Nikita5 Comments

We’ve been on the Pacific Crest Trail for two weeks now. TWO WEEKS. 14 DAYS. It feels like a lot longer than that, but somehow not that long at all- time no longer holds any relevance to me.

This week felt like we were getting the hang of things. While the pain of non-stop walking is still there, it’s starting to become an aspect of everyday life, and less of a problem. We’ve gotten into the the rhythm of trail life, and I was wide awake today before 7 AM even though we weren’t hiking.

At one with the trail. Ok not really.

At one with the trail. Ok not really.

Here’s a little overview of what the trail has revealed to us this week:

Cows

Bet you didn’t see that coming. I didn’t either.

Actually I did, because there has been cow poop for MILES, but we finally encountered our first cows this week.

We turned a corner to find this beauty staring us down. And chewing. Staring and chewing, the life of a cow.

We turned a corner to find this beauty staring us down. And chewing. Staring and chewing, the life of a cow.

They’re awesome and cute and I want some.

Strange Weather

Guess what happened while we were in the desert? A rainstorm. Lots of rain (so much that a lot of our stuff was soaked inside the tent), in the DESERT.

The clouds fast approacheth.

The clouds fast approacheth.

Bringing in the rain was a lot of wind. Constant wind with 35-45 mph gusts that would hit you as you turned the corner, nearly blowing you over. As we walked I watched ants on the ground, moving slowly as they clung to the sand and getting blown away in big gusts.

This lasted for hours as we worked our way along the narrow trail, winding through the foothills. It sounds terrifying, but I didn’t feel scared at all. It was completely exhilarating.

Rain at lower elevations meant snow at higher elevations. Many other hikers were having a *great* time up in all that white stuff.

Rain at lower elevations meant snow at higher elevations. Many other hikers were having a *great* time up in all that white stuff.

For the hikers just 1-2 days ahead of us, the trail progressed through higher elevation and many of them were waylaid in almost a foot of snow.

So, snow and rain in the desert. It happens.

Trail Legs, Trail Feet

Last week my biggest pain was these friggin’ blisters, man. This week? They crusted up real nice like, and I have a feeling that in the next couple of weeks they’ll be sharp enough to use as cutting tools.

Me, pinky-whipped.

Me, pinky-whipped.

I’ve learned that all of the pain, tiredness and swelling in the feet can be healed with a little rest and elevation- basically not stomping out 20 more miles for a day. At the same time, here I am complaining about 3 blisters that I had, and a trail friend of ours is basically breaking in new hiking boots with about 7 on each foot. And he did more miles than me. Oh well. I’m done comparing myself to other hikers and their miles.

While I seemed to crack immediately on the trail, I think Nikita is just beginning to. He found blisters to call his own, and says that it feels like he is “walking on bruises.” This is the most I can get out of him. Stoic.

Overall I think our feet feel less tired. We can go a bit further each day without feeling like our feet are going to fall off. We may be finally getting our trail legs, as they say.

Mileage

Our miles are on the up!

I was hiking so fast right there.

I was hiking so fast right there.

The first week consisted of: 8, 12, 17, 4, 6, 12, 13. After that we took a zero day, and by the end of the first week, we had taken two near-os* and a zero**

The second week: 0, 12, 11, 18, 20, 13, 0. The 12 was a half day, and the 11 was a day so besieged by rain that we stopped in the early afternoon just to get away from the cold and wet. If you’ll notice, we hit our first 20 this week, and the 13 we actually did all before 1pm- the fastest we’ve hiked yet!

We also hit the 100 mile mark this week. It was much too cold and rainy for us to fully appreciate the accomplishment.

We also hit the 100 mile mark this week. It was much too cold and rainy for us to fully appreciate the accomplishment.

Right now, we’re taking a zero in the extremely hiker-friendly town of Idyllwild. Coming into town we saw a lot of familiar faces we thought had passed us for good by mid last week. Initially we were so stressed over how slow we thought we were going, it feels good now to see that we’re not really falling behind as much as we had thought. Everyone moves at different speeds, and has to stop to take zeros at some point or another.

*a near-o is a hiking day that consists of very few miles. I’d say less than 10, but every hiker has their own opinion

**a zero is a day where you don’t hike at all. No miles, but your feet will thank you!

Pooping

If you’re interested, pooping in the woods isn’t the freak out-inducing act it’s cracked up to be. It’s actually kind of… nice. And though having weeds tickle your butt and feeling like a wild animal will stumble upon you at your most vulnerable, squatting down to poop is 1 million times better than sitting down chair-style to do it.

I could go on, but I think many of you have already reached your threshold for horror, so I’ll leave it at that.

We’ve done enough pooping in the wilderness now that it’s no big deal. There are so many more things on the trail that require getting the hang of besides pooping. Sleeping, even.

So uh yeah, pooping. Check.

Becoming a Thru Hiker

This week we successfully hitchhiked to town 3 times. It was our first time hitch hiking and was not at all the scary murder trap society makes it out to be. 2 out of the 3 times we were picked up by local women who have been routinely giving hikers rides into town this season.

Even off trail, people are warm and giving.

Trail Names

We have trail names. Most thru-hikers acquire a trail name over the course of the Pacific Crest Trail, unique names given by other hikers that describe you or what you do a lot on the trail. So without further adieu…

I’m Chunks, pleased to meet you. “Chunks” because I threw up on the first day. Lovely, I know. I resisted it for the first week or so, but it grew on me, and as no other name presented itself, I have accepted it as my trail name. I’ve learned that it’s actually quite popular, and when I introduce myself I get, “Oh you’re Chunks?” For better or for worse, Chunks.

Nikita is “Indiana,” after Indiana Jones, who shares a similar phobia of snakes. He really is quite scared of them, and we’ve only seen 6 snakes in our 2 weeks.

Chunks and Indiana it is.

Trail Magic

We’ve finally been on the trail long enough to experience trail magic: the unexpected gifts and graciousness bestowed on hikers, just for being hikers. At the end of this week, our water stop for the day turned out to be a trail angel’s* house, where beans, chicken and pancakes were being served. Free of charge.

This doesn't look like much, but it made our DAY. We were able to dry out almost everything we had, and emerged from the desert rainstorm, rejuvenated.

This doesn’t look like much, but it made our DAY. We were able to dry out almost everything we had, and emerged from the desert rainstorm, rejuvenated.

In the small community of Warner Springs, residents provided rides to the post office, hotdogs and hamburgers and homemade apple bread to hikers. We even occupied a gazebo for a few hours to dry out our stuff. It wasn’t much, but it was complete rejuvenation for us. Magic, basically.

*a trail angel is someone who helps hikers by providing rides, food, a place to stay or by maintaining water caches along the trail, all for free and out of the goodness of their own hearts

More Scenes From Week Two

If we hadn't taken a zero day in Julian we would have never stumbled upon this gang of FIVE Golden Retrievers. Ahhhh, life.

If we hadn’t taken a zero day in Julian we would have never stumbled upon this gang of FIVE Golden Retrievers. Ahhhh, life.

*Cue that Beatles song!*

*Cue that Beatles song!*

Hiking through the wonderfully flat open stretch before the community of Warner Springs.

Hiking through the wonderfully flat open stretch before the community of Warner Springs.

Free hotdogs and hamburgers = trail magic.

Free hotdogs and hamburgers = trail magic.

The trail abounds with grasshoppers, which apparently the Surrealists used to symbolize rebirth in their art. They have surprisingly positive connotations in cultures across the world. They literally fly around the trail. They also have some pretty awesome camo.

The trail abounds with grasshoppers, which were coincidentally frequently used by the Surrealists to symbolize themes of “rebirth” in their art. They have surprisingly positive connotations in cultures across the world. Grasshoppers of all types literally fly around the trail. They also have some pretty awesome camo to boot!

Lizards, lizards, everywhere. Some of the species we've seen have beautiful patterns, but also a knack for skittering away right as you're about to snap a photo.

Lizards, lizards, everywhere. Some of the species we’ve seen have beautiful patterns, but also a knack for skittering away right as you’re about to snap a photo.

 

We’re heading out of Idyllwild tomorrow morning at 8:15 AM (late in hiker hours) and I have a feeling that we’ll be pushing for 15-20 mile days and ending up in Big Bear by the end of the week. Until then, happy trails!

Until our next update!

Until our next update!

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Comments

  1. A great blog. I am so o enjoying your adventures. The pictures are very good. Do you have plans for a video later, or too early to tell? Enjoy every mile and please be safe.
    Mike.

    1. Hey Mike, thanks for reading and enjoying! All photos are done by Nikita and you can check out more of his photography from off the trail in our Photography section.
      We have taken some video so far but are planning on ramping up soon. I would like to set some of the awesome sites and scenery to music, as well as record some of what it’s like living out on the trail. So, can’t say when, but definitely in the future. Stay tuned!
      Thanks again!

  2. This is the post I was waiting for. I knew you could do it. You’re my hero.

  3. I love reading your blog. I have a son who started the PCT at Campo on May 5th, but he is not the blogging type. I love hearing about the journey! Blessings!

    1. Thanks, Teri! Glad to hear you’re enjoying the blog so far. Maybe we’ve run into your son on the trail!

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