Chapter 1: Desert Crust and Burnt Hands

Day 1 (20.0mi) Mexican Border to Lake Morena State Park.

(The Southern Terminus)

What a day. Mom and my Aunt Terry sent me on my way around 7:10 a.m. After the first few miles I ran into another Terry. This one is an army ranger from near Franklin, NC (which I zero’ed at during my AT hike). We leap frogged a ton throughout the 20 mile day.

(1 down, 2,651 to go)

It was amazing how many ill prepped hikers I saw today. One dude with his knee split open badly. Two groups of women who had the packs laying all over the trail (bad hiker etiquette for sure) gear everywhere. Gigantic packs. Around 1/2 the people ran out of water too. Also met “Wolverine” from Australia who did the AT in 2010.

(My scenery, for way. Too. Long.)

For me, the day was a weird mix of brutal and easy. I went through a number of hours wondering why I’m here and not more excited. I went through many moments thinking how much less steepness there is versus the AT. A million thoughts. Hard to focus.

(First trail magic. Easter day.)

Knees seems to be pretty good. Legs aren’t as sore as they could be. So much salt stains on the clothes out here. Basically the water evaporates from the sweat before it can wash away the salt. So you just accumulate salt on your face, arms, legs, etc. Recipe for chaffing! I’m becoming Desert Crust.

(First climb, from a distance)

I’m glad I made it too my goal. Shooting for Long Canyon Creek tomorrow. Water water water. 17.8mi should be doable.

Day 2 (17.8mi) Lake Morena State Park to Long Canyon Creek.

(Because there aren’t enough hazards out here already…)

Tougher than expected day. It was all uphill for the most part, with not too steep of a grade. The heat is what is unexpectedly tough for me. I’ve always preferred hiking in cold weather. Hot weather. No bueno. The sun is relentless. You don’t “feel” hot, cause you don’t sweat much. But you do feel just as drained. My arms and hands are sunburnt way bad. I’m going to need to swap to long sleeves and pull them over the backs of my hands (which are what is most burned). Legs and knees are still also somewhat achey. Guess all that training paid off.

There were way less people on the trail today than yesterday. Already a ton of people dropping out. Mostly due to lack of water. It’s amazing how quickly you drink 5L in the heat while hiking. I’m camping at a creek tonight. First one I saw all day. Totally different than the AT. I’m really considering a pack over haul in Warner Springs when I hit my bounce box. Especially considering going stoveless like I did on the AT. Cooked meals aren’t appealing in the heat. We’ll see…

(Is there such a thing as SPF 1,000?)

Need to resupply in Mt Laguna tomorrow, so it may be a shorter day. Hoping to make it to Penny Pines Point Faucet. Unfortunately a better water source up the trail is a no-go. So’ll I need to fill up here for another dry stretch.

(More rocks and mountains. Shocking right?)

Day 3 (14.8mi) Long Canyon Creek to Pioneer Mail Picnic Area.

Made it a few miles past my Penny Pines Point Faucet goal. Even though this was my lowest mileage day so far, I did better than expected since I needed to resupply 5 days worth of food to make it to Warner Springs by the weekend.

While resupplying, I was hoping to find some sun gloves at an outfitter in town. My hands are extra crispy. Unfortunately the outfitter went out of business a few months ago. So now I’m wearing a long sleeve shirt and just pulling the ends over my hands. Don’t want to use duck tape. Afraid the skin my come off with the tape.

Water sources are dictating everything for me out here. Unfortunately a ton of them are dried up. Guess that 16 feet of March snow in the Sierras hasn’t made it to the Majove yet. It’s been forcing me to camp “dry”. This is completely new to me, and makes me a little uneasy. Oh well, thru-hiking rule #1: roll with the punches.

Looking forward to hitting my bounce box in Warner Springs this weekend. Hopefully I can get there when the Post Office is actually open. Need to ditch some weight. Way way way weighed down.

Day 4 (17.8mi) Pioneer Mail Picnic Area to Tent site.

Tried waking up an hour earlier (5am). Really helps with the heat. I look pretty fashionable with my black thin winter gloves on in order to stop the sun.

(Tried that whole hike at sunrise thing. Way less toasty.)

Speaking of sun, it was a beast today. I landed oddly between two water caches and was forced to do a 2 miles dirt road walk to a spring since another source was dry. Water dictates all

(Almost falling like a crusty desert fool.)

Starting to feel the aching in my legs now that I am 70.4 miles deep. I remember on the AT it took a few weeks to get my “trail legs” and this is just my 4th day out. The grading on the PCT is so much less than the AT. In fact, it’s boring to hike. Boring to a point that my brain is starting to feel like I am wasting time. I’m not sure if that’s a dark rabbit hole I need not worry about, or if I just am bored with this because I’ve already done a much harder thru-hike 6 years ago. I think too much, haha. Time to go to sleep and think some more.

(Yep. It’s as big as it looks.)

Should be posting again around 110 miles in at Warner Springs sometime this weekend. Assuming I have service.

2% out!


  1. When you did your road hike to the water source I saw your ping leave the trail and there was a piece of me that thought you had been picked up by some Anton Chigurh type. Good to know you weren’t lost or dead.


    1. I’ve chosen to aim for entry into The Sierras around early June since they got 17ft of snow in March. Originally I was arriving in mid-May. So, I’m ahead of schedule. Gotta slow it down haha.


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