Days 1-4: a tale of extremes

I stayed with a large group of hikers at a Trail Angel’s house, Scout and Frodo. Trail Angels are people that assist hikers throughout the trail. About 30 of us were dropped off at the Southern Terminus at 7am by our Trail Angel host and volunteers. The start of the PCT! 

As we took off, we began splitting into smaller groups, finding people that matched our pace. I am hiking with another lady, Sonya, and we have been leap frogging a few other groups. The first day, we did 15 miles. It was HOT! Over 90 degrees.

Other than the heat, the desert was amazing. There were hundreds of lizards, a few rabbits and even a rattle snake.

Day 2

The second day is always the hardest. My body was adjusting to carrying my pack, the heat, and walking all day. We got up early to make a climb before it got too hot. We made it to Lake Moreno and hung out for a bit. We saw a couple other hikers, but then decided to head back out.

It started to get hot and we began the search for shade to nap in. At Cotton Creek Bridge, we found another hiker napping. There was so much shade! We followed suite, throwing out our ground sheets to lay on and ate some lunch. Then we took a long nap. After packing up, Right and Left (a couple from Colorado) came by. They were stoked to find this excellent spot too.

There were a few creeks that we passed by on our way to camp. It was so wonderful to take our shoes off and walk in the cool water. We found The Swiss Ladies (two Swiss women who started with us) down at a creek that had a few deep pools. We made our way down and hung out for awhile. Then we decided that was it for the day. It was so peaceful .

Day 3

All of us woke up early and took off for the day. It was a much cooler day than the previous two days. It was a little overcast, and all of us took off as fast as we could to beat the heat.

The views were amazing! It reminded me of central Oregon.

I was heading into Mount Laguna to pick up my resupply box. When we got to the the clouds turned darker and the temperature began to drop. After picking up my box of food, I came outside of the store and it began to pour and the wind was howling.

We walked to the gear store, as they were giving beers to hikers. While there, we got the news that there was going to be 3″ of snow and 30mph winds that evening and another 6-9″ of snow the next day. Since it was later in the afternoon and about 20 miles of exposed ridge with higher winds, we decided to camp at the campgrounds.

I had no idea how my tent would hold up to this weather. About 8pm the pole fell, collapsing the tent on me. I got out, kicked off the snow, and readjusted everything, determined to hold up through the storm. The walls kept collapsing on me and every time the wind blew, the condensation rained down on me. I grabbed my rain skirt and jacket to protect my down quilt from the water. “I’m warm, I’m staying as long as I can.”

At midnight, the tent collapsed again. I shouted over the wind to Sonya, who was camped next to me, “I’m calling it!” Quickly I shoved everything into my pack, pulled my stake, balled up my tent and ran to the bathrooms. Once in, I found Mariah (Flame) sleeping in one of the stalls. I threw my sleeping pad on the floor and curled up to sleep.

Day 4

I woke up to other ladies coming into the bathroom. The three of us; Sonya, Mariah (Flame) and myself, debated on taking off. After a pep talk, we geared up and headed towards the trail.

When we got to the trail, the wind was blasting and cutting through our clothes. All three of us were shivering and second guessing this decision. Sonya and Mariah didn’t have gloves, so were wearing socks on their hands. If we pushed forward, we would be committing to camping in soaked clothes, high winds on the exposed ridge, and pushing 20-25 miles. After a silent exchange, where our eyes met, we realized this could be too risky for our gear and our abilities.

We turned around and got breakfast at the tavern. Other hikers were there and the coming storm was all the talk. Many had hid in the bathrooms and showers, as their tents also collapsed. We decided to look for a place to stay the night.

We hid from the snow in a cafe and called every hotel we could find. Everywhere was full. We drank our coffees and planned on dinner at the tavern, before retiring back to the campground bathrooms for one more night.

While eating dinner, the waiters let us all know that they would let us stay in the tavern if we helped clean for closing. It was so great! It was like a hiker slumber party. There were about 28 of us. It was so warm and comfortable.

Long story short, we went from two 90 degree days to rain, sleet, snow and 17 degrees. I slept under a bridge, in a public restroom and on a tavern floor. What a way to start this adventure!


  1. And you didn’t post any pictures of the hiker slumber party? WTH Read! Get it together!

    Sounds like there’s more than a couple angels on the trail. Stay with them as much as possible.

    Love hearing from you!

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