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Weminuch Wilderness Area

Hike Reports: Pacific Crest Trail 2019 (Chronological)

Hike with Gravity

I hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail, March 24 to October 25, 2019. My daily journal appears here in chronological order. If you prefer, read the posts in reverse chronological order here.

Prologue
The second season I am to know

In the first month of my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail I told myself, “I am one and done.” This is not to say I wasn’t enjoying the hike, only to say that I couldn’t imagine doing again something so difficult for so long.

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Day 0, Scout and Frodo’s House
Going to California with an aching in my heart

Kim and I sat quietly waiting. Few words were exchanged between us. This was a time of uncertainty. I told her I felt as if we were waiting for a hospital nurse to call me to the operating room. Neither one of us felt worry, though, only expectancy. We were spending a few extra minutes together before I boarded a plane for San Diego. When one of us did speak, the conversation was mostly about things we look forward to for the future. We spoke about when the journey that hadn’t yet started would be done.

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Day 1, Campo to Hauser Canyon
Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams

Two years ago, the thought of me standing on a small rise in the California desert would have seemed improbable. The fact is, I would not have thought of it at all. My only thoughts then were on preparing for an attempt to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. After I successfully completed that hike, I still had no thoughts of attempting another long distance hike. Yet here I was today, standing next to an ugly corrugated metal fence that runs along the Mexican border. Nearby was a simple monument marking the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. And though I often said I never wanted to do a thru-hike again, right now hiking about 2,560 trail miles north toward Canada was all I wanted to do.

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Day 2, Hauser Canyon to Boulder Oaks Campground
I'll be what I want to be

Yesterday had been a good day in every way possible. I had met new friends, the hiking was easy, and I felt strong. I didn’t begin today with expectations that this day could be any better, but I soon discovered it was. Even then, I didn’t realize how significant the day would become. I had no way to know that today would be the start of lasting bonds of friendship.

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Day 3, Boulder Oaks Campground to Mt. Laguna
Now witness the quickness with which we get along

Long distance hiking is hard. It’s really hard, in fact, but I doubt anyone is surprised to learn that. You have to be willing to tolerate some discomfort, pain and monotony. Of course, if thru-hiking were easy, many more people would do it. Then again, there are many reasons why the discomfort, pain and monotony are worth the effort. Otherwise, no one would do it.

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Day 4, Mt. Laguna to Tentsite at Mile 47.7
Pay for your ticket and don't complain

Though I moved my tent last night to a spot I thought was away from sharp locust tree needles, I was still afraid I could poke holes into my inflatable sleep pad. The night turned chilly, and I didn’t want to wake up and find myself on a flattened pad. Thankfully, that didn’t turn out to be the case. I stayed warm and cozy.

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Day 5, Tentsite at Mile 47.7 to Tentsite at Mile 63.6
And you ain't no friend of mine

We were camped on the edge of Storm Canyon, so I suppose by its name we should have been grateful we only got wind gusts overnight. The wind blew hard for most of the night, but being a little bit protected by trees helped. It was still windy enough that my tent flapped and shuddered with each gust. I didn’t get the best sleep, but at least I stayed warm and the tent didn’t fall down on me.

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Day 6, Tentsite at Mile 63.6 to Stagecoach Trails RV Resort
One man gathers what another man spills

About 2.5 miles down the canyon from where we were camped was the former site of the Golden Chariot Mine. Gold was discovered there in 1871, and nearly $1 million worth of the precious metal was removed from it. Gold continued to be mined there until 1931, but various attempts have been made since then to restart mining. We didn’t see any gold on our hike, but we saw a lot of golden yellow California poppies.

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Day 7, Stagecoach Trails RV Resort to Tentsite at Mile 85.3
Wondered how tomorrow could ever follow today

I didn’t sleep well last night. Unsurprisingly, the cot I slept on was not comfortable. The one good thing that could be said about the night was it didn’t get chilly. When I finally gave up on sleeping, I had no way to know what a fun day today would be.

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Day 8, Tentsite at Mile 85.3 to Tentsite at Mile 101.6
Some folks would be happy just to have one dream come true

Today begins the second week of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and things could not be better. The weather has been ideal. Water has been available despite the desert terrain. I have enjoyed getting to know new friends. And I have found the trail was very hikeable. In other words, last week was perfect. Today was too.

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Day 9, Tentsite at Mile 101.6 to Tentsite at Mile 114.7
Poised for flight, wings spread bright

I had been anticipating this day for a long time. I knew I would pass by Eagle Rock, which was a unique rock formation in the middle of a wide desert plain.

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Day 10, Tentsite at Mile 114. 7 to Mike’s Place
The less we say about it the better

Every day on the trail so far has been interesting, but for today that would be an incomplete description. The word just doesn’t do it justice. Different, maybe? Unusual? Strange? Yes, definitely strange.

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Day 11, Mike’s Place to Mary’s Place
Going where the wind don't blow so strange

The wind blew all night long. With it came occasional bursts of rain. When I looked outside my tent in the morning it was hard for me to tell if it was still raining or if clouds had settled down upon us at Mike’s Place. Then I looked across 100 yards toward the house. What the...? Was that a tail on the guy who just walked by?

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Day 12, Mary’s Place to Idyllwild
Lookin' for adventure and whatever comes our way

Our night at Mary’s Place was very comfortable. There were occasional wind gusts, but they didn’t interrupt my sleep much. The temperature dipped to the low 40s. The other hikers here told me they met Mary last night. I arrived after that so I missed her. This disappointed me because I wanted to thank her for providing such a nice place to stay.

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Day 13, Zero Day in Idyllwild
Sick as a dog

My goals for today were simple. Get some rest. Get information about the trail over the San Jacinto Mountains. That didn’t seem like asking for much, but it turned out harder to achieve than expected.

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