Day 28, 29 & 30

Day 28 – mile 266 to mile 283 – 17 mile (27 km) day

Was sad leaving Big Bear. Whenever I’m in town and about to leave, I have this part of me that doesn’t want to go back on trail. But the other part of me is super antsy and wanting to be hitting the dirt already. It’s super weird. There’s like a war inside me every time I’m going to/in and leaving town.

Trail was pretty straightforward – not much incline except the first couple of miles. After that, was pretty straight and then after mile 281, it was just downhill (although not a direct decline – just little ups and then random quick steep declines. I prefer straight downhill since I like running down those).

   
       
Went through the land of dead and living trees. Apparently, a while ago, there was a fire so there are still standing dead trees all over the place. It was eery but beautiful.

   
 

  

Meant to go to mile 285 since that was the next water source and a large campground but the sun was going to set soon so just camped at 283 (and, not going to lie, my feet hurt. I think my feet thought I was done hiking since I took so many days off at Big Bear).

Sunset that night was beautiful!

   


Day 29 – mile 283 to 298.5 – 15.5 miles (25ish km)

Not a big day. My feet seemed to have turned to mush since Big Bear and were acting like they’d never backpacked before. My left hip flexor was seizing up and super painful. 

I did some yoga stretches in the morning which actually REALLY helped my hip flexor but my feet were dead by the time we reached Splinter Cabin even though it was only 15 1/2 miles.

At this point, I had to remind myself that – in the beginning of this trek – I couldn’t even do 15 miles with a huge pack. I’ve come a long way. It’s hard to congratulate yourself though when there are people running past you every couple of hours, making me feel like such a slow fat ass. 

That day, I met some rad people – Mr Noodle and his girl, Mama Squirrel and her husband, No Boundary. I also met a Canadian who was going to do a large section before starting a job back in Canada in June. 

A bunch of us just camped at a Splinter cabin since there was a flowing creek near ther (oh and they had picnic tables AND 2 outhouses!!!! Felt so good, being able to act like a normal person and go to an actual bathroom). 

   
        


Day 30 – 298.5 to 313.5 – 15 miles ( 24 km)

Feet are killing me. Huge blisters appearing everywhere – a big chunk of my left index toe (can you call it that since it’s a toe?? Lol) is gone. Mentally, I’m fine though. 

I see a group on the way out of Splinter’s Cabin. It’s another one of the groups of all men with the exception of a single female (something I’ve been seeing a LOT of. It’s quite primitive and something I’ll probably be writing about soon. I’ve yet to see a group of men with more than a single female. And the prettier the female, the larger the group of men around her). I say “hi!” Cheerily and ask where they hiked in from. It’s inane chit chat but they were breaking so thought I’d be friendly. I’m met with stone faces and one of the young guys snarkily says “Mexican border”. I fake laugh. “Oh, an asshole!”, I think. Unfortunately, there are a few of those on trail for some reason. The girl in the group is the only one who smiles back and is in any way friendly. Thankfully, they pass me quickly so I don’t have to be near them.

I hit mile 300

  
I meet an Israeli by the name of “Ram”. He seems to be gliding down the trail effortlessly yet he’s going quite fast. He passes me and I’m a bit jealous of how easy this seems for him.

I somehow meet up with him again after trudging a couple miles to a somewhat shady spot (did I forget to mention, it’s HOT! No shade really, either). We talk about the journey. He says he’s found his natural stride after spending so much energy trying to be in sync with everyone else and is now able to go longer miles. He talks about how he also takes breaks every hour, no matter what. He said something that hit home to me “The Gods seem to be pleased with my quest” as good things started happening since he had begun the trail. I pondered upon that as things seemed to be happening – both good and bad – since I had officially started my trek as well. We briefly try to contemplate the “cause and effect” (if you will) of journeys like this but give up. It’s time to keep hiking. I wish I could pick his brain a little longer but Ram is soon gone from sight.

I trudge on in the heat. My feet continue to swell. I take an Indomethicin (anti inflammatory). Deep Creek Hot Springs is at mile 309 and I force myself to get there.

On the way there, I kept seeing these beautiful pristine beaches near the flowing creek. It was such a tease since I’m boiling hot, sweating profusely and wishing I could be there. “I need to come back here and find a way to these non populated beaches, even if that means I need to climb a shit load of boulders to get there!”, I think to myself. It looked like paradise.

   
   
When I get there, the “asshole” group (I stereotype groups) is there so I feel immediately insecure. No way am I getting naked or near naked around these judgemental types. The last time I was at Deep Creek, a young nasty couple made a comment about my weight, which I was already super insecure about since my uncontrollable weight gain from my IUD. I started to cry. I felt so fat and ugly. A wave of insecurity washed over me. 

Then I realized I’m about to start my period and I’m probably taking everything WAYYYYYY too personally. And it’s also probably why I’m having such a hard time hiking. My body feels like it’s resenting every step I take even though my mind is in the game.

I meet an older gentleman hiking, by the name of “Pilgrim”. He’s hiked the Camino de Santiago (which is on my bucket list) and a part of the Appalachian trail. He’s now doing the PCT and plans to do a trail in Australia next year. I basically want his life and tell him so. He laughs. We bond. I haven’t bonded with many people on the trail but Pilgrim is pretty rad and we chat for a while. He then leaves. 

I get some water, treat it and elevated my feet. A naked old dude comes over and talks to me for a while. Some people make faces when seeing him, like they think his nakedness is funny. This reinforces my decision not to be near naked around these people. In Finland, nobody would’ve bat an eye at someone being naked in the appropriate surroundings, no matter how big their belly or thighs, etc. In America, especially LA area, I feel like most people are much more judgemental about superficial looks.  

I then had to leave before nightfall. Needed to get some more miles. Met another hiker by the awesome trail name “Frankenstein”. He went on ahead while I took a break.

   
      

Leaving Deep Creek. Chug, Bird and Doolittle up ahead. 

 

The rainbow bridge! 

      

Found a perfect camp spot just before 314 and crashed. 

The End. (Of that day. Lol)

Day 20 & 21

I’m a bit behind on my blogs. Had a few people worry about me. Sorry!! But not really. I was lost in the mountains… Not literally, of course, but I had no service.

Day 20 – 5.2 miles in the morning and then 6 at night. So around 11 miles

Woke up early to get to Ziggy and the Bear. Crossed some dry desert and came across another rattler who shook his rattle at us to warn us we were about to step on him

 
And then kept going. It was all flat but got hot fast and we were sweating profusely by the time we got to the 10 freeway.

   
  

    

Thankfully, by the time we got under the freeway, we found some trail magic – someone had left a cooler with ice cold sodas and clementines! The other hikers from mile 206, Wild Bill and Deep, had caught up to us by that time.

       

I usually hate soda but had a Dr Pepper which was ice cold and tasted delicious. Had a couple of clementines and then we moved on, determined to beat the worst of the heat.

Got to Ziggy and The Bear, a husband and wife who’d been hosting hikers for forever. They literally have hearts of gold. Both were so kind and graciously let us, complete strangers, into their home. Signed us in, gave us a cold Gatorade and showed us the showers and everything.

Jen had a friend driving nearby sometime in the day and I had been obsessing about In N Out –  a West Coast hamburger joint with debatably the best burgers EVERRRR. Jen assured me she’d get me to it if her friend would take us. This made the heat much easier to bear.

However, all of us hikers got hungry fast and ordered Little Ceasar’s pizza. I shared a whole pizza with Kim. Everyone else got their own huge box of pizza. Proof:

  
That meant I wasn’t hungry at all anymore, not even for In N Out so when a past PCT hiker offered a ride into town, I didn’t take him up for it. But, mentally, I still wanted a double double, protein style – no onions- with light spread. But the pizza had filled my intestines and there was nothing I could do but pray it come out before I left to hike again.

I spent the rest of the day, chugging water with electrolytes and praying for the heat to stop. My feet hurt. I thought I’d stay an extra day and leave at night the next day but, when the day started to cool down around 6pm, I felt alive and just wanted to hike. I had to wait a bit for my new awesome friend, Jen, to finish dinner with her friend and pack up before we could go but, around 8:30pm, we finally said our goodbyes with the moon shining brightly for us.

“Billy The Goat”, an older hiker who’s hiked the PCT and many other trails, gave us some good pointers and wished us on our merry way.

We awkwardly had to climb under some barbwire fence since we didn’t take the same route back to the trail but we were stoked to be going out. We were adventurers!!!! 

Jen was a trooper for being a new night hiker. Was hard to get any good shots since my iPhone is horrible at taking night shots.

We wanted to get to mile 218.6 that night, to the Whitewater Preserve. That meant 8.6 miles of night hiking. With us averaging around 2 1/2 miles per hour, that meant we wouldn’t get there until about 1-2am.

We got to a little over 216 and then encountered a REALLY crumbled up section of trail on a cliff side which we felt was really dangerous to cross so decided to camp out a little back, where we came from.

 
Pic of the trail the next day. Not so bad in sunlight but, at night, it was bad, that’s all loose gravel.

Day 21: mile 216 to 218.6 and then 218.6  to 226.2 – a little more than 10 miles 

Woke up to cows shrieking desperately. I’ve lived in New Mexico and have NEVER heard such terrifying shrieks from cows. Jen has also hiked in and near herds of cows and had never heard anything. It was as if one of the cows had fallen and was yelling for help with his parents or fellow family cows yelling back at him/her.

We quickly got up, packed up and got our asses to Whitewater Preserve, which was an oasis. Bathrooms, wading pool, beautiful white sand and free camping for PCT hikers

We saw a snake coming in. Not sure what type of snake that was though. It wasn’t a rattler.

 
We set up camp, I ate and then slept on and off for many hours, having had such horrible sleep the last few nights. It was super windy.

   

  

  

 

Around 5:30, Gabriel – someone I’d met before on trail – came around, about to leave. He hung around until I was ready to go.

My shin was throbbing painfully and both Jen and Gabe told me it was shin splints, something new to me. 

We wanted to get to 226. So we night hiked, despite everyone’s injuries coming out to play, to the creek to camp. Jen wanted to do more miles but Gabe and I were pooped so we all crashed.

Here are some pics  

  

Just outside of Whitewater Preserve

  

Jen and Gabe. Jen hates when I take pics. Lol

  

Some bones!

The day before full moon. The moon was magnificent and I didn’t need my headlamp at all.

   

  

Day 16, 17 , 18 & 19

16, 17 were zero days in Idyllwild. No hiking done on the trail. Just laundry, lots of eating (like TOO much eating. Glutton style),  

  
 resting feet, going to doctor to get some Indomethicin and ended up getting some anti-inflammatory shot in the butt too). 

Got to hang out with my friend, Sean, and saw his family who were so nice. I got my Epsom Salt bath with wine, as well, which is turning out to be a ritual now (not that I’m complaining! It’s the best!). Looked at upcoming trail maps (estimating time, difficulty, weight, etc) and working out resupplies. Feels like I’m getting a lot better at estimating my food and water intake now which means I don’t carry as much food and water.

  
Working on resupply boxes to Big Bear.

Day 18 – 11.2 miles

Sean drove us to The Devil’s Slide Trail which reconnected us to the PCT (where the fire closure ended around mile 178).Took off with Jenn later in the morning. 

  
It was basically 2.6 vertical miles of The Devil’s Slide Trail and then several more vertical miles. 

Lovely views that day:

   
Tahquitz Peak on the left and Suicide Rock on the right.

  
Some snow left coming down San Jacinto area.

   

Last water source was at 186. Jenn left ahead of me on one of my breaks but I caught up with her there and, since we’d gotten such a late start, the sun was already starting to set so I scouted an off trail camp spot about .6 miles from the water spot where we  could watch and take pics of the sunset.

   
     
I was exhausted after all the uphill so crashed as soon as sun had set but woke up from the bright moon hanging over me. It was so bright, my body woke up, thinking it was daytime.

  
Day 19 – mile 186 to 206

My first 20 mile day!!!!! Beautiful views at the start of the day.

   
       It was a bit of a climb in the morning but then a shitload of downhill with no shade. Saw some deer, snakes and probably 400 lizards of all shapes and sizes. I almost stepped on a rattler myself. Usually, I hike with one earpiece only in the desert so I can hear rattlers or hikers coming up behind me but, with the disgustingly hot heat, I was blasting both earbuds to will myself through the hot section.

   
         I saw and heard of many people misjudging water intake that day (I almost ran out too – had only 1/2 liter for last 2 miles but since I waited out the heat mid day, it was fine). There was no water until 206.

Jen hoped to get to Ziggy & The Bear (trail angels who open their home to hikers – letting them take showers and hand wash laundry, get food, etc) but we were dead and the sun had basically set by the time we got down the 7000 ft elevation drop. Camped at 206 along with some other hikers (Wild Bill & German hiker, Deep).

Slept under a lunar (moon) halo that night. It was spectacular but I had the worst sleep. Couldn’t sleep with so much light but couldn’t keep hiking either since my feet ached so bad after the 20 miles 

Day 14 & 15

Day 14 – 124 to 140ish – 16 miles (did 1/2 mile to water too)

I couldn’t catch up with Jenn the day before so after horrible sleep, I went to 127 to trail angel Mike Herrera ‘s house, where I had beer and a tequila shot for breakfast. Met Benji, Dang and Rita May there and some others. 

   
   The storm was rolling in and I wanted to get a move on. 

   
       Found a camp site at 140 with Dang. He’s a writer from Oklahoma. We chatted for a while but it was raining so ran inside our tents.

Day 15 – 140 to 151.9 to Paradise Valley Cafe and then hitch to Idyllwild 

Due to fire closure from PCT mile 162 to mile 177 , there was much fuss and debate amongst the hikers as to whether or not to just hitch to Idyllwild and get back on PCT at mile 178 or do the reroute, which involves dangerous highway walking (a local showed me where the alternate route and there was literally NO space on the shoulder of the highway. More than 4 locals I met strongly recommended skipping the reroute). 

Some purists claim it’s “cheating” if you just hitch to Idyllwild. To them, I say “hike your own fuckin hike!!” . I live near Idyllwild so, if I have enough time to get to Canada, I can always come back and do the section I missed. It’s NOT a big deal!!! But somehow quite a few hikers are all up in arms about it. Duuuuuuude, I just wanna hike!!!! Lololol

It was hot!!!! But I met so many cool people and got amazing fish tacos at Paradise Valley Cafe and a few beers. 

       

This cactus cracked me up. It’s like a foot cactus 

Day 11, 12 & 13

Day 11 – from mile 91 to 104ish? 13ish miles/22 1/2 km

I HIT A HUNDRED MILES!!!  (Just under 161 km!) 

 

Warner Springs was just a tad too far for my feet so I walked through so many empty fields with cows in the far distance and finally found a campsite. I wanted to cowboy camp (no tent) but the clouds looked pretty ominous and felt chilly, like it does before rain.

Some coyotes danced and laughed around my campsite at night but it didn’t bother me. I think that was the best night of sleep I’ve had on the trail yet. 

   
  
Day 12- 104 to 109.5 (Warner Springs) 5 1/2 miles/8.9(?) km

Woke up and saw some Aussies (Steve & Amelia) coming up from the trail. They said they’d just seen a mountain lion cub. This freaked me out since where there’s a cub, there must be a mommy and I didn’t want to be in between them. I asked them if they were sure it was a mountain lion and they pointed it out – it was slinking near the other tree just behind me. It was huge but I noticed it had tufts on its ears so had to be a bobcat. Thank goodness!!

 
The arrow is where the huge cat was slinking around!

Bumped into the crew I’d met the day before – Honest Abe, Cheetah, Jay and an OG (Original Gangster) hiker by the name of JZ – he did the PCT – the first time – in 1987!!! It was a lot shorter then – ie, the 20 miles to Lake Morena was only about 7 or 9 miles back then since the trail wasn’t totally established then. He’s also a triple Crowner (meaning he’s done all 3 major trails in U.S. – the PCT, the CDT – Continental Divide Trail – and the AT – Appalachian Trail). Met a dude by the trail name of FM who was nice.

  
Took some pics at Eagle Rock with them – which is a natural rock formation that I swear someone sculpted to look like an eagle. 

   
      Made it to Warner Springs Resource Center which was amazing – had a burger there and they did laundry and had everything set up to help hikers (they take donations and all donations go towards helping their small community). 

My faith in humanity is being restored as I get help from these angelic people. It looked like it was going to rain so we all camped out there. 

Met some other amazing people, like Jenn (aka Bodysnatcher), saw Brad – the Aussie Hike Bike Safari blogger – again which was cool. Saw one of my favorite people, Mitchell, again. He’d been attacked by poison oak in Julian and I thought I’d never see him again since he does such long days and kills it on the mileage.
 
Camping in front of Resource Center  

  

Jenn – she’s a hoot. Funniest bitch on trail making her sexy face

  

Some amazing person came with beer and wine for us !!! 

  

JayZ – I could talk to this man all day. When asked what motivated him to do all these trails “I just love hiking, man”! Super cool dude. Oh, in case you were wondering, he got his name before the rapper. I asked. Lol

  

The sheriff gave us a ride in his patrol SUV to the post office. These are the criminal dirty hikers in the back 😝

 

Mitchell. Going to Berkeley later this year. Good luck man!!! Hope to see you again but I doubt it since you’re so fast. 

 

The sign greeting me when I pulled up with my sore feet.

Day 13 – 109.5 to 124.8 – 15.3 miles/24.6 km

Most mileage I’ve done in a day this far!! That day was never ending fuckin’ uphill. It didn’t end. Finally found some horrible camp spot and kept being woken up by my wet tent slapping me in the face. I refused to get up and handle the tent since it was so wet and cold outside.

Alls I have to say is: my butt better look great after all this hiking and uphill struggles.

Fog and drizzle but I love fog!! Here are some pics 

    

   
 

Day 7,8,9 & 10

day 7 – mile 68 to77.3 so about 9 miles.

Blistering heat, little to no shade. About 9 miles – a few uphill 

   
   and then this

  
Hung out with Kevin, one of the chillest cats I’ve ever met (I later found out, over pizza, that he was a practicing Buddhist which made so much sense). Little did I know, that would be the last hiking I’d do with the man (we started around the same date and he was one of the last from our start date that wasn’t rushing, like me).

Ally, the angel from heaven who hiked with me (and her dog) the first 4 days, offered to pick us up and bring us to Julian. 

All the hotels in Julian were booked (I had a Sunday night booked in Julian and had originally thought I’d camp but my feet were dying from these horrid blisters and swelling from the heat

  so decided to find other lodging just for Saturday – so we stayed at The Apple Tree Inn) but we decided to get some groceries and free meal/pie at Mom’s in Julian (they give free pie and drink to PCT hikers if you have ID and your thru hike permit).

Here’s Ally and I at Mom’s

  
Here’s Kevin: if anybody sees him later (he had to go back to Northern Cali but was planning on coming back to trail), tell him we say hi!!!

  
I was soooo excited to see fruits and veggies after all my shitty (nutrition wise) meals on trail!!!

  
Day 8 & 9 

Stuck in Julian, CA, waiting for my size up shoes to come in. I go wine tasting, take Epsom Salt bath, see local music (think they’re local?), have breakfast at Granny’s (THE best place ever. They have this hanging on the wall)

  
eat pizza, do laundry, pop blisters. You know, the usual. 😝

   
   

  
Day 10:

Soooo foggy and a little drizzly in Julian. Was up at 5am but didn’t think I’d get the 13 mile hitch I needed back to trail fast enough with the Lack of visibility. The mom & pops of 2 sisters that are hiking (Rebecca & her sister… Forgot her name!) offered their car to take a few of us back to Scissors Crossing. Got to trail later than I wanted (around 9:30) but, fortunately, there were winds.

I heard shit about this part of the trail – especially how it has NO shade and you should only attempt it at night or before sun comes up in the AM. I thought it was stunning and 14 miles (77.3 to 91.2)  went smoothly event though I started so late.

Met another fellow blogger I’ve been following – “Hike.Bike.Safari”  ( http://www.bikehikesafari.com ) . He’s some weird Aussie dude (I kid, I kid! he’s cool. 😄😝) that’s been killing it on the miles and travels all the time and is on the PCT now.

  
Camped near water cache at 91. Seemed to be the place to be since everybody camped near there. I had to be the last person out of camp so I could do my business without someone busting in on me (I have a bladder of steel apparently). 

Here are some pics from that day 

   
Cacti in these parts were amazing. These guys were HUGE. A few taller than me!

  

That skinny line is the trail

  

That tree thing is actually spiky like a cactus

       

Day 5 & 6

Was a lot of work at Mt Laguna. Didn’t feel like I rested at all. Had to hand wash laundry (SO dirty!!) and call people, call REI and order another pair of Cascadias to get to Julian, buy more food, fill up water, pop blisters and bandage feet.

   

   

  

I was out by 9:30am. Hiked from 42.5 or so to 55.9 where I camped amongst some boulders.

Met a dude from Minnesota who got named “Breaks” as a trail name since he hikes for the breaks – not for the hiking itself – and a spunky lady by the name of Elizabeth. We leapfrogged almost the entire time and all camped at this mountain full of boulders. It was quite spectacular 

   

Elizabeth near mile 50

  

“Breaks” singing away… Doubt he even knew I was right behind him at this time. Lol

  

Sun setting at Boulder camp

 

The Boulder Camp

  

Sunrise at Boulder Camp

Day 6

Hiked from 55.9 to 68.4 = 12.5 miles.

Wanted as few miles to Julian as possible without killing my feet. Was too bad since I ignored some hot spots and ended up getting a few blisters on this hike. Cowboy camped again. Stars were STUNNING!! I could see the Galaxy. 

Since it was a water spot, many people camped out there. Someone played music until 1am. I didn’t mind though. I was exhausted and crashed as soon as sun set.

   

Filling up water bottles at a horse trough. Had to treat water

  

Casey, a wise 26 year old who was stomping her way through the miles in high heat as if it was nothin’

  

Rodriguez Spur Truck Trail camping spot

  

Airing out my socks while talking with my Minnesotan Bestie

Views from that day