I could barely sleep at all last night. I was so nervous! Chas and I didn’t finish getting everything put together until a little after 11pm. We checked our packs to make sure we had everything together, then double and triple checked. I finally fell asleep around 1am, and then woke up at 4am to start our very first day hiking the PCT! Chas made me a breakfast sandwich, and we drank our coffee while stretching in his mom’s kitchen. We left to pick up Matt around 5am, and it took about an hour to drive to the Southern Terminus at the Mexican border in Campo, California. We all had butterflies the whole drive. Once exiting the freeway, we had to take dirt roads, winding through what felt like the middle of nowhere. We went up a hill, and saw the monument in the distance. We were almost there. The sun had just started to rise when Chas’ mom dropped us off. She took all our photos, hugged us, and watched us hike onto the trail. I was so happy she was there to send us off.
Once we hit the trail the butterflies went away. It felt like we were supposed to be there. We had to hike to Lake Morena, 20 miles away. It was a hot day, in the 90’s. We met some other hikers along the way, and they were all really friendly. The first 15 miles were decent. The trail went up and down, in the sun, and some parts in the shade. It wasn’t an easy hike, but we were so full of adrenaline that the first 15 seemed to fly by. We took a few breaks where we sat down, and removed our shoes and socks to let our feet air out. We brought lots of snacks, like Snickers, fruit gummies, and Clif bars. The last 5 miles however, were long and brutal. We got to Hauser Canyon, and it looked very intimidating. We hiked down a long steep decent in the shade, and it hurt my aching knees. My legs had started to chafe, and hurt with each step. By the time we got down to the bottom of the Canyon, we were ready for a little break to catch our breath. A hiker popped out from behind some trees. “We’ve got a nice shady area over here!” he yelled to us. His name was Twice, and he and Ed had their pads laid out and were taking a nice long break. They were waiting for the blazing sun to go over the mountain more, so the hike up the canyon would be less treacherous. We decided to join them. We all sprawled out under the big trees and took a nap for about an hour. It was a little after 4pm, and we figured we should get going.
The hike up had no shade covering, and it was a long climb. At first we were okay hiking up, but once we got closer to the top of the canyon, Matt and I weren’t feeling too well. I took out my sun umbrella and gave Matt one of my trekking poles. We took lots of water breaks, but the temperature was still in the mid 90s. Chas had white stuff all over his face and body. It was salt! We were covered in sweat, and very dirty. We met two more hikers on the way up. One had a sun umbrella too, and the cutest gaiters with whales on them. He later introduced himself as Rob. The other hiker, Chance. Once at the top of the canyon, we felt relief. We were closer to Lake Morena! The last few miles felt like eternity. When we finally turned the corner and saw the lake below we all got so excited! We were skipping down to camp (well, more like a limping skip, haha.)
Once we got to camp we were greeted by a hippy girl with dreadlocks dancing. She introduced herself, Rocket Llama. Rocket Llama is a “trailebrity.” She hiked last year and was stranded in her tent in the snow for over a week. Look her up, she’s amazing. At Lake Morena there were about 11 of us. I felt relieved when everyone felt the same way we did. Some hikers never even made it to camp that night. We were all so worn out, but fell so proud of ourselves. We set up our tent while the sun was setting, and we sat down and cooked our dinner in the dark. Chas and I smashed a whole bag of tortillas with rice, beans, and Tapatio. We made 4 little burritos each. So good! Matt crashed hard as soon as he set up his tent. He fell asleep on top of his sleeping bag he was so tired. After dinner Chas and I walked to the camp bathrooms. I noticed a shower, so I hopped in. The water was freezing, but whatever. It wasn’t until I went to turn off the water that I noticed I was able to make the water hot! Haha oh well I was already clean. I fell asleep soon after getting in my sleeping bag. It was a long, but awesome first day!
What a great start to an amazing adventure!