Kennedy Meadows

Kennedy Meadows is a small town, with a general store where all the hikers hang out. The Kennedy Meadows General Store allows PCT hikers to camp behind the building for free, and caters to the hikers. This is where everyone sends their resupply packages and bear canisters. Lingo and I each had a box of food and a new pair of shoes to pick up. The store has a large deck with lots of tables, chairs, hiker boxes (where hikers leave items they don’t need for other hikers to have,) and a grill where you can order burgers, sandwiches, etc. The staff at the store was very nice! The store lets you open a tab and pay before you leave. This was extremely convenient but also dangerous since most of us ended up racking up a large tab with trips into the store to buy beer, ice cream, burgers from the grill, more beer, and more ice cream. “Just put it on #55!”

Arranging our bear cans

Arranging our bear cans

My shoes

My shoes

Lingo's shoes

Lingo’s shoes

Lingo, Topo, Hog, Rasberry

Lingo, Topo, Hog, Rasberry

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Hiker boxes

Hiker boxes

Hanging around Kennedy Meadows was really fun because we got to hang out with a lot of our friends. We met knew faces, most of which were really nice. A few hikers had a different attitude than the hikers we had been around most of the trip. A hiker stole our friend’s six pack of beer from the cooler one night, and the next day people were jumping the line-up to put their clothes in the dryer. I had heard of some hikers having an “entitled” attitude, but this was one of the first times I really saw it. It was disappointing. Our friend that had their beer stolen was very forgiving and said to me, “It’s okay. This trail’s all about love.” These kind words echoed through my mind the rest of my time spent on trail.

Yummy snacks from a trail angel and her children

Yummy snacks from a trail angel and her children

Line for the grill!

Line for the grill!

There is a trail angel named Tom who lives in Kennedy Meadows. He has his place set up with computers and outlets to charge electronics. He has hiker boxes and even a frisbee golf course. It’s known as “Tom’s Place.”

Tom's Place

Tom’s Place

One of the great things about hanging around the store was watching Rocket Llama open her package of goodies sent from her dad. He sent her a pack of animals, stick on mustaches, pink hair extensions, and lots of other silly things. I really liked playing with the animals. Rocket and I even hid the animals in our friends’ backpacks for them to find later! Sneaky Rocket tricked ME and hid the gorilla in my pack. The gorilla was snuck from pack to pack the rest of the trail and ended up making it to Canada a few weeks ago!

Rocket slightly disgruntled about how many boxes she received.

Rocket slightly disgruntled about how many boxes she received.

Rocket opening her package

Rocket opening her package

Hanging out

Hanging out

Animal's around the "water hole"

Animal’s around the “water hole”

These couple days were spent laughing, eating, and resting our feet. Our German friends Princess and Mr. Sandals had a German film crew meet them for an interview. They had their interview while indulging in much deserved burgers! At night a group of us sat around our tents and confessed our “guilty” items we’ve been hiking with. Items included things like a taser, kite, electric razor, and more. Here we all tried to save weight with light items but then ended up packing extra comfort items that weren’t really a necessity. It was funny!

Princess and Mr. Sandals

Princess and Mr. Sandals

None of us had a bottle opener. I guess an ice axe will do!

None of us had a bottle opener. I guess an ice axe will do!

My burger

My burger

We all practiced arranging our backpacks with our bear cans (which take up basically the whole pack!) Our friend Estero gave us tips and tricks to get everything to fit. He advised us to put our sleeping bag in the bottom of our pack, then our bear can, and stuff all of our clothes around the bear can. I practiced a few times before bed. We all hiked out the next morning as a group.

Estero, Fence, Acorn, and Lingo

Estero, Fence, Acorn, and Lingo

Bring on the Sierra Mountains!

Bring on the Sierra Mountains!

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Almost to Kennedy Meadows!

We never originally planned on going into Lake Isabella, but we did. We even took a zero day due to the weather. A storm was rolling in, and we had a hotel room. The whole hotel was full of hikers, and we stood outside together and watched the dark clouds and rain over the mountains. The next day was even worse, but Lingo and I were getting restless. More and more hikers were entering town and rumor was that the “herd” was coming. By the time our package arrived it was close to 5pm. Lingo, Rocket Llama and I went out to the road and stuck out our thumbs. The goal was to get out of town and back on trail, not necessarily make decent miles (after all, it was already 5pm!) We were standing at the entrance to the freeway, wet from the rain, and car after car passed us by. One car in particular was full on “murder mobile.” It looked creepy, with duct tape holding it together, and no door handles. Rocket Llama was doing her Rocket Llama dance, hopping on one foot, thumb out, smiling. Her dance is silly and normally get rides, but we didn’t want THIS ride. “Not this one Rocket!” said Lingo. Too late. The car stopped. “What do we do?” I asked. We took the ride, and guess what? We didn’t die! He only took us half way, but we caught another ride that dropped us of at the trail. (We later found out that if we had hitched out the NEXT morning we would have gotten trail magic from Yogi doing a pancake breakfast at the road!) But we didn’t get trail magic. We instead hiked only 4 miles and camped with our trail friend Topo under some trees to avoid all the rain.

Heading into the storm

Heading into the storm

Lingo in the rain

Lingo in the rain

At night Lingo and I noticed the rain stop and the clouds disperse. We rolled up a door on each side of the tent to avoid condensation inside our tent. Unfortunately our tent still got condensation, which got our down bags and all our things wet. We would have been drier sleeping outside. Topo and all her belonging were soaked too. Lingo was really angry all day about our tent. It was a cold and cloudy morning, but when the sun came out we took an early lunch break and laid out our sleeping bags and tent to dry. The weather couldn’t make up it’s mind that day. Sometimes the sun would peak out, and it would be so pretty. The clouds would move in quickly though, and you would hear thunder overhead. We took an afternoon break to filter water and make coffee. There were bees flying us while we filtered the water. It was cold out and drinking coffee was nice. By the end of the day, Lingo, Rocket and I caught up to Hog. He was sitting with another hiker. We scoped the area and set up our tent. We then all sat in a circle and had dinner together and talked about our day. The sky was getting stormy again. Rocket Llama doesn’t like to use her tent, so she set up her mat and sleeping bag. “Here’s my plan guys! If it rains.. Im getting up.. and Im hiking out of here!” she said to us. Well as if the trail gods heard her, it started to rain. She didn’t get up and hike out. I threw her stuff in our tent until she set up her own tent. I fell asleep to the sound of the rain (and this time our tent worked. We woke up dry!)

It was very windy in this spot.

It was very windy in this spot.

Lingo

Lingo

A beautiful view!

A beautiful view!

The next day we were getting closer to Kennedy Meadows. Kennedy Meadows is a big achievement. It’s the start of the Sierra Mountains! We’d be done with the desert (for now,) and hiking in the beautiful mountains, at high elevation, with plenty of water! I hurt my foot/ankle this day. It was the top of my foot, and it hurt with every step. I don’t even know how it happened. Perhaps it was because I was trying to walk really fast and stepped funny? That day I also was able to see a “Mojave Green” rattlesnake. I thought we were too north to see any, but there one was! Rocket was listening to a podcast about tattoos and set the snake off. She didn’t even notice him! She managed to have passed the snake, leaving the snake rattling in the middle of the trail, with us stuck behind it. “Whoops! Sorry guys!” she chuckled and kept hiking. This snake was very angry. We heard that Mojave Greens can lunge and are more aggressive than other rattlesnakes. We ended up having to hike off the side of the mountain to pass it. By the time we caught up to our friend Hog he had set up his tent near a river. We camped with him again that night. We were very close to Kennedy Meadows, about 3 miles short. Rocket pushed on that night but my foot was aching.

"We're getting closer!" Lingo

“We’re getting closer!” Lingo

We hiked the last few miles the next morning and hit the 700 mile marker! We arrived at Kennedy Meadows around 8am, just in time for some coffee!

Sugarpine feeling proud of 700 miles!

Sugarpine feeling proud of 700 miles!

Kennedy Meadows

Kennedy Meadows

Lake Isabella

Lake Isabella

My friend Nic saw a picture I put up of the town, and he commented “Wow, you guys are… OUT THERE,” which we totally were! This town was something else. I don’t want to bad mouth a town, but man I swear 75% of the people there were on tweak. Our retro family owned motel was like a beam of light shining down onto the hillside.

The hotel was really cute, and operates by a husband and wife. They even cooked all of us hikers dinner one night, and oh boy what a feast! She made us tacos, soup, potato salad, the works! It was so sweet of them, and very appreciated by all of us!

We also enjoyed some town food with our hiker friends Topo, Hog, Rocket Llama, Teddy Rose, and Rei.

While we were in town, a storm rolled through, leaving more snow in the Sierra Mountains right ahead. The whole town was dark and stormy. We looked at the mountains in the distance where the trail is, and it was frightening! It really made us rethink whether or not we needed micro spikes for the snow. Our German friend named Rei (he thought the outfitter REI was pronounced “rye”) was shocked that we didn’t prepare for the snow. “You have NO micro spikes? And you mean to tell me that you have NO mountaineering experience?!” All of us hikers at the motel were debating what to do. We ended up calling Backcountry, and ordered micro spikes along with more comfortable sleeping pads, and silk liner for the sleeping bags. They were wonderful and overnighted us the items for free!! Thanks Backcountry!!

We left the next day after we got our package. It was raining when we got our hitch back to the trail.

Lake Isabella was a last minute decision, but a really great one! We left feeling rejuvenated, and confident with near gear for the Sierras.

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“D” is for Detour

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I really wanted to love this section of the trail. All I had been hearing from previous hikers is how it was horrible and they wanted to get done with it as quick as possible. 

“How could someone dislike a whole section of the PCT?!” I asked Lingo our first morning in the section. Well my question was soon answered. Detours, road-walks, long water-less stretches, poodle dog bush, and nights of hiking miles and miles passed what you wanted to hike, in search of finding a spot to camp. I really tried to stay positive during Section D, but it was tough!

We started Section D at Cajon Pass. We had just left McDonalds around 3pm, and we were feeling pretty great. A handful of our fellow hiker trash friends were getting a hotel that night to “prepare” for the climb out. The way they talked about the climb, and how it was hot, hard, and exposed sounded scary! We just wanted to get it over with so we left in the afternoon. Our belly were nice and full with a days worth of indulgence at Mickey D’s, I had my I Pod blasting a mix of Metallica, Godsmack, and Queensryche, and I powered my way up that mountain! Leaving in the afternoon was a great idea because most of the trail was in the shade. But it was steep, windy, and long. Once we got towards the top there was a jeep road that we were able to take as our first detour around the poisonous poodle dog bush! We got on the jeep road, and the sun was starting to set. We found a perfect spot to camp off the road where we could see the city below. Normally city lights aren’t my cup of tea, but there was something beautiful and comforting about them that night. We slept warm and cozy all night, and woke up to a beautiful sunrise. Day one of Section D was good. 

The next morning we covered up, like we had been told to do, so that we wouldn’t touch any of the poodle-dog bush. Poodle dog is a plant that takes over in burn areas. It makes you itchy, and has an outbreak similar to poison oak. I’ve heard nightmares of hikers who have walked through it, or camped in it at night, and had to be hospitalized! So we wanted to be covered up since we heard it was in this section. Well, day two had hardly any poodle dog bush! It did however, happen to be blazing hot starting at 7am, with no wind, and no tree coverage. I had on my long sleeve shirt, and long pants. I felt like there was a rain forest in my pants I was sweating so much! I finally changed after 12 miles or so, when we had hardly seen any of the dreaded plant. We hiked through Mountain High Resort, and it was covered in green grass where the snow usually is. It was really neat walking through it! We hiked 17 miles by 3:30pm, and ended at Highway 2 Angeles Crest. There were some other hikers there on the road waiting for a ride into Wrightwood. They were going to stay at the Pines Motel, and the owner was on his way to pick them up. He zoomed into the parking lot in a little red rice rocket. We asked him if he had any more rooms available. “Only one. Big room. Two beds, two couches. Sleeps 8 people. Usually $120 but for you $99… $89! You can stay for $89!” He left and told us he would be back in 20 minutes with his bigger car. When he came back, he was driving a Dodge conversion van, and it came screeching into the parking lot, bass thumping, Rhianna blasting. We got in the van. The windows had curtains, and tvs on the back of the seats. “Sunflower seeds?” he asked Lingo, and pointed down into the cup holders, both driver and passanger cup holder filled with seeds. “Dill flavor.” he added. The highway might have well not have had a line down the middle, because the van was going all over the place. I felt like I was in a scene of the Hangover, with Chow driving us around. We pulled up to the motel, and it was full of our hiker trash friends! It was so exciting to see faces we hadn’t seen in the last week! We split the room with our friend Glitter (formerly known as Rob,) and Rocket Llama. The funniest part is that since there was only 4 of us splitting a room that sleeps 8, the motel manager and his wife kept asking if we could fit more hikers in our room since all the motel rooms got booked!

Our plan was to stay that night and do our resupply shopping the next morning, and leave in the afternoon. Leaving town is always hard, and we felt like taking a full zero day would allow us to get too comfortable. We can’t get too comfortable and get sucked in! In the morning we went to an awesome bakery where I bought I cinnamon twist pastry, a fresh from the oven most delicious chocolate croissant of my life, and a peanut butter and chocolate muffin (I packed out the muffin for breakfast the following day.) Lingo also got a cinnamon twist and an apple turnover. The food was seriously amazing.

We got a hitch out of Wrightwood back to the trail that afternoon. We hiked up Mount Baden Powell, which was named after the first Boy Scout leader. It was a Saturday evening, and there were quite a few day hikers there. Its a very popular trail, and reminded me of Cowles Mountain, except this trail kicked my butt! It was 4 miles up to the top of constant switchbacks. The locals were friendly though and asked if we were “thru hikers,” which when we told them we were, they thought was “so cool!” The mountain summitted at 9,407 feet, and had snow towards the top. The view, along with the altitude, was breathtaking. It was cold up top, and the sun was going to set soon. We ate dinner at the summit, and pressed on for another mile or two until we found a spot that leveled out enough to camp among some trees. We must have found the only spot.. There was hardly anything since we were on a ridge, and the wind was bone-chilling and strong. Another hiker, Blue Yonder, was also camping there. We all watched the sunset, and went to sleep. It was a cold night.

The next day we hiked only 16 miles to a trail camp. That day was weird. We hiked our normal length of time, but didn’t make our normal amount of progress. We hiked the first road-walk of this section. It was a detour around an endangered toad. Poor toad. We also encountered lots of day hikers over the course of the day. There was even a “meet up” of hikers at one of the trails. There must have been around 60 of them. When we passed them I felt anxious. They were loud, and I heard multiple conversations. They smelled too! The smell was so strong. It smelled like laundry detergent and clean people. I had gotten used to body odor and stentch. When we got to the trail camp we were exhausted. We wanted to get more mileage in, but it was almost 6pm and we were discouraged and tired. There were a few other hikers there, including this cool older hiker named Raspberry. He felt like he had been hiking all day too without going his normal hiking distance. It was nice to know another hiker felt the same way we did. We ate dinner and decided to camp there that night.

The next day was full of poodle dog bush. It was everywhere. The trail had the bush to the left, to the right, and even in the trail. Big poodle dog, little poodle dog, and incognito poodle dog hiding within other plants! We had to do the “dance” around it the whole day. Our hiking speed plummeted. We had to keep focused with every step we took. It was mentally and emotionally draining. We ended up hiking our longest hike that day though, so go us! We did 23.5 miles, mostly due to looking for a spot to camp, but everything was overgrown with, you guessed it, poodle dog bush! We hiked to the Mill Creek Fire Station since that was the closest water source and we were almost out of water. It was about 7pm. The station was closed, and we decided to just stealth camp there for the night. We walked around the back of the station and a couple hikers were there set up! They said a woman who worked at the station said it would be alright to camp as long as we were gone before the firefighters got there in the morning. It was windy and cold so we set up our tent next to a trailer for the hot shots, and there storage. We tried to be stealthy, but when the sun set a street light came on directly over us. Stealth camp fail!! Rocket Llama showed up and set up next to us. We all slept with our buffs over our eyes to block the light. It was awful, but we were too lazy to move the tent.

The next day included a road walk up Mount Gleason to avoid the poodle dog bush that took over the forest where the Station Fire came through. It was devastating. We passed the Station Fire memorial, and it was a very beautiful but sad memorial. It got cold that afternoon, and started to sprinkle. The clouds were dark and scary. We hiked another 22 miles that day into the desert towards Agua Dolce. We had trouble finding a place to camp, so we camped on a ridge, that had a little bit of clearing. The sunset was beautiful.

We hiked 7 miles into Agua Dolce the next morning, and ran into Rocket Llama in town. We found some large dandelions and made a wish. She stopped at the cafe for lunch, and we pushed on into Hiker Heaven where we took a nero, and a zero! Finally!

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Day 6

It was so nice waking up in a cozy bed, with our own bed sheets. It was so hard to imagine getting dropped off back outside soon. We all sat in a circle, separating our clean laundry. We packed our bags, and loaded them into the car. Chas’ mom, Peggy, drove us to Starbucks, where we each indulged in a yummy drink and pastry. I got a tall iced double soy caramel macchiato with a little extra caramel, and a slice of pumpkin loaf. Mmm!!!

Our hiker trash friends

Our hiker trash friends

Peggy drove us back to Scissors Crossings, and all of us had butterflies in our tummies again. We were nervous! But why? We were just out on the trail the last five days, feeling fine. But something about the comfort of home and town made us question why we would make ourselves go back out there, with blisters, and the heat, and cold, hiking all day long.

The posse with Momma Lingo

The posse with Momma Lingo

When we got out of the car it was so windy! We hiked under the bridge at Scissors Crossings. At the time we went through there, there was a couch under the bridge. The trail angel who maintains the water cache for hikers there was upset that there was a couch, and refused to refill the water. I have to admit, the couch made it look trashy, and I understand why it would make him angry. However, since it was there, we sat on it while waiting for each other to sign the PCT log book.

Micaela and Rob at Scissors Crossings

Micaela and Rob at Scissors Crossings

Something special happened at Scissors Crossings, Chas got his trail name! Being from San Diego, and also being the silly guy he is, he has some slang he uses when he talks. Whenever he uses the slang, people laugh, and ask what he means. He says things such as “Smashin,” “Burnin,” “Crushin-it,” “Choppin it up,” “Posse Out,” etc. It always makes Rob and Micaela laugh because of all his lingo. So that’s what they started calling him- Lingo! So, I dubbed Chas at Scissors Crossings on the couch, with my trekking pole.

Sugarpine dubbing Lingo

Sugarpine dubbing Lingo

Lingo and Rob

Lingo and Rob

Beautiful ocotillo

Beautiful ocotillo

Yummy pizza lunch!

Yummy pizza lunch!

After that we made our hike up the San Felipe Hills. The Starbucks and clean clothes helped a lot with the first half of our day. We were all pumped up as we hiked the first 10 miles. I can’t even describe how windy it was. Well, let me try to. The wind was so strong that I was scared to lift both my trekking poles off the ground at the same time. We had to use extra force with each step just to make it forward. The wind would then stop, and we would get to hike at a faster pace. But then it would pick up in a second, at full force, throwing you almost off the side of the trail and into the cactus below. We took a lunch break and ate our leftover pizza. The second half of the day though was long, and it felt like we were hiking forever. We only saw one other hiker the whole day, which was sort of weird. When we finally made it to the water source at Third Gate, I hurt so bad. My left knee and right ankle hurt. I had the “hiker hobble” big time. When we arrived at the water source, there were lots of other hikers sitting around and cooking dinner together. We found a spot big enough for our two person tent, but all the spots up there were pretty exposed and super windy. There was old rusty barbed wire around our spot, and Lingo almost fell into it while putting up the tent. We got into the tent, and I cleaned up my chafe. It hurt so bad. We put on warmer clothes and went over to Troll’s spot where everyone was eating dinner. We ate with Happy Feet, Rob, Micaela, and Rocket Llama. I made couscous for dinner, with tapatio and mixed some fresh veggies from town (which I cut up with my teeth and spit into my cook pot since i didn’t have a knife.) It was so tasty. It got really cold, and I my body hurt really bad. Once we got into our tent to go to sleep I broke down and started crying for the first time on the PCT. I’m not sure why exactly.. maybe I was just overwhelmed. Lingo told me how great I had been hiking, along with other sweet things, and it made me feel a little better. I was almost asleep around 9pm when everyone was woken up to a loud crew of hikers shouting “Water! Where’s the water?” and “Turtle!?” Troll pointed them in the direction of the water, and that was then end of that, or so I thought..

Day 1

About to start our journey!

About to start our journey!


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.

Chelsea and Matty

Chelsea and Matty


Mile One!!!

Mile One!!!


Chas and Chelsea

Chas and Chelsea

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.

About to go down the canyon

About to go down the canyon


Taking a much needed break

Taking a much needed break

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!