I’ve made it to the little town of Julian! What a crazy, incredible few days it’s been. And hard – it’s been HARD! I knew it would be but the combo of being solo and not used to the heat has really been difficult. The heat just saps my energy…combined with the fact that I didn’t have enough food for this section and I’ve had some lows. My first little resupply town of Mt Laguna had significant less than I had thought so I ran out of snacks! Ack! It sure makes me glad that I did go through all of the effort to cook and mail resupply boxes instead of relying on the towns, though!
Being solo has been more intense than I realized. I do know it’s the full combination of factors: doing this trek, the heat, the weight on my back…all of this just makes it so much harder. I am positive that once I get into my routine and become more confident with myself and abilities I will be fine. I fully expected the first week would be rough with missing Adam and trying to find my groove out here. I’ve been SO lucky to connect with a couple: Sabrina & Obi-Wan (Kevin). I honestly would be in a much rougher spot without them and it’s amazing how much the commaraderie of others can make or break your day. It’s just been fantastic hiking with them and, without fail, every other hike out here has been so nice and supportive – we’re all have the same goal and want to see everyone finish.
I sure don’t want to make it sound like I’m not having a great time! This has been incredible! I’ve hiked 77 miles and am feeling super awesome – I’ve had one blister which is healed up now, a slight knee pain on the down but nothing compared to what other people have been reporting; massive blisters taking them off trail, shin splints, heat exhausation/stroke. I’m carrying a lot of water and I’m averaging about 1.5 L every 4 miles, with 8L being my max carry so far (the first day with the next water source being 20 miles away). The stretch leaving Julian is notorious for being a hard climb, plus super hot sun exposure, and 23 miles to the next confirmed water source. I plan on grabbing a couple of Gatorades to up my capacity to either 9 or 10 L and we’re probably going to do a bit of night hiking to break it up. I was convinced to take a zero (rest) day here in Julian to recharge. I didn’t feel like I needed to physically but I think it will be super great for me mentally. In fact, we were just hanging out chatting to other hikers and, when I left that conversation, I realized I’m really glad for taking this time. I learned a bit more of what to expect coming up over the next few hundred miles and it just makes the psychological efforts a bit easier knowing.
The trail has been beautiful with amazing (albeit hot & dry!) panoramic views most of the time. There was an incredible day of hiking out of Mt. Laguna wherein we pass through a ton of different terrains and ecosystems and is a huge reason why I wanted to hike all of this. We started in high desert alpine (there were pine trees and it smelled so fresh!), went to standard desert greenery/brush, received a beautiful view of the sandy desert mountains, into incredible boulder formations in sand, and ended up camping in what looked like prarie land! In one day! As for wildlife, I’ve encountered 2 gopher snakes, heard one rattler (I ran), and had a scorpion sleep under my tent one night which I discovered while packing up, which leads me to…
Trail Names: It’s common to receive a trail/nick name for one reason or another. This becomes your real name and you are introduced and referred to as such. Kevin has been dubbed Obi-Wan due to his sage advice (REI Outdoor Leadership Instructor) and I have been given the name The Scorpion Queen for my unexpected find! Given the length of it, I’ve opted to shorten it to Scorpia.
I’m obviously a few days behind my “schedule” but I sure hope everyone knows that creating a spreadsheet at home does not equate to real life execution! I plunked in 20 mile days but have not hit that number yet but do feel pretty good at getting there soon-ish. I’ve been able to do 15 miles, 17 miles, 12 miles, 18 miles, 18 miles…which somehow adds up to 80 even though the PCT cut-off for Julian is at mile point 77…I dunno! Those numbers also don’t really reflect the added mileage for water we have to walk (for instance, one day we had to add an additional 1.5 miles for water trips) and I’m probably doing a bit of rounding in there.
I’m feeling and doing great! Thanks to everyone who’ve sent me little messages – they really do help! Please note that I can’t respond to your texts as I have limited minutes, texts, and data (and want to save for emergencies) but I DO get them and the DO mean a lot and help 🙂 Wifi has been less than I expected but I will endeavour to post when I can (I really don’t want to use data to upload a post!). I’m not taking many photos with my phone so Instagram doesn’t have too much but I will try to take a few more…I am taking a bunch with my good camera so post-trip I’ll have to do something with them.
Thanks everyone!! I’m missing you!