Day 1: And It Starts

Mile Reached: 20

High: Had old PCT thru-hikers cook me a burger for dinner

Low: Forgot to pack sunscreen while wearing short running shorts.

Angry Rattlesnake: 1

People Featured in Wild: 1

The day started early at 5 am with my friend JD driving me to the border monument. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much sleep, because a phone kept vibrating in the middle of the night. Oh, well.

Chomping at the bit and ready to go

My plan was to try and do as much distance as possible early in the morning before the heat started to become oppressive. This worked well except it meant that I was ahead of all the other hikes starting the same day. The trail has a really good tread and the grade is mellow, sometimes obnoxiously so. Thus, it was very easy to make miles. By the time the sun was up enough to contemplate applying sunscreen, I tragically discovered that I had forgotten it. I was also in front of everyone else, so I couldn’t bum some off anyone. Hopefully, my pasty white thighs survived.

Yes it switchbacked repeatedly up this gentle hill.
Many yucca were in bloom. I can attest that the flowers are edible but not so tasty

The terrain is typical San Diego chaparral with scattered patches of live oak. There is lots of granite which turns out to be great for concealing rattlesnakes. I stepped within a few inches of a surprisingly pissed off rattler that was making to strike. I learned a few minutes later that some people in front of me had found it sunbathing across the trail and decided to poke it with sticks to get it to move…

The iconic terrain feature of the day was Hauser Canyon, which is about 1200 ft deep. The trail descends into it and then climbs out there other side dropping down gradually to Lake Morena. I took a quick lunch in the canyon shade, made it to Morena by 1, and napped for a few hours under an enormous oak.

Hauser Canyon. The switchbacks up in the other side in the midday sun actually weren’t that bad.

When I woke, I discovered that I had stumbled into the AZDPCTKO celebration. Some old hands every year commemorate the start of the PCT by throwing a little party for the thru-hikers. I scored a hamburger, way better than the tortilla and tuna fish I was planning on eating. Turns out one of them was the guy who went through Cheryl’s pack telling her what to ditch in Kennedy Meadow. It was a fun evening listening to them tell stories of the trail from a different era.

“Meadow Ed” of Wild fame is the one in the purple shirt making us all burgers 😀

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