- PCT Update: May 10, 2014
Let me just start like this: nothing is like I thought.
The PCT is a completely different ballgame from anything I’ve previously hiked or experienced. It’s beautiful and nuanced, and hiking these first 152 miles has really humbled me. I’ve changed my gear setup and my strategy, and I’ll break it down a bit day-by-day.
Note: I’m having a tough time fixing the image display issue from the trail. Clicking an undisplayed image will still open the gallery for viewing.
I got off the train to San Diego at 1:15 AM, and immediately made my first hiker friend. His trail name: Legend. He was carrying a small satchel and wearing a leather cowboy hat. He’d hiked the entire PCT last year, and this time around he was going ultra ultra light. No sleeping bag light. All this next to my 40 pound pack (before food and water.)
I invited Legend to crash for a few hours in my motel room, but he was determined to sleep at the train station before our 7:38 AM train to El Cajon. Long story short: I slept about 4 hours that night and barely caught the train in the morning. At El Cajon I found myself boarding the rural bus to Campo with seven other hikers, all determined to hike to Canada. All of them with ultralight packs. Oops.
We made it to Campo two hours later. Still about a mile from the southern terminus of the PCT and the U.S. / Mexico border, Legend and I were quick enough to hitch a ride with some hikers from Bellingham (and avoided an extra mile of road walking.)
With an 11 AM start, we were hours behind the thirty-or-so other hikers who started that morning at 7AM or earlier. I set foot on the well marked trail and met wildlife only two miles later: my first rattlesnake. It hissed, rattled, stood tall, then slithered into the brush. Turns out snakes are just fine not eating people.