With the anticipation of starting the PCT, I didn’t get much sleep on April 2 so it was good that we decided not to get up too early. By the time Jacob and I picked up Eric and drove the hour to the start of the trail, it was 9 am. There was a group of three hikers just starting and another guy came up just after us.
The start is kind of a strange place because it is right next to the Mexican border and there is a huge fence as far as the eye can see.
We took a few photos and I said goodbye to Jacob and then we were off!
Then we walked down the hill and ran into Jacob as he was driving out. With our second farewell, we were actually on our way.
The day was sunny but windy and we were both pumped so we set a good pace. The trail was narrow but well maintained and there were only a few rocks to watch out for. We quickly overtook the three hikers who started just before us, and headed into the desert.
Our goal was to hike 20 miles on the first day, which is kind of ambitious, but that’s how far we had to go to a reliable water source. Luckily the elevation change was not too great in the first 15 miles and the time passed quickly with good conversation.
Shortly into the hike, we came across a Book of Mormon, sitting on top of a backpack on the side of the trail. We couldn’t tell if it was a sign or not, but foraged ahead, nonetheless.
We didn’t see too many people early on, probably because we got a later start, but over time we passed a few hikers. We chatted with a few, but others did not seem too friendly. We played leap frog with a guy who was carrying a large knife on his leg and another, larger one below his pack. He seemed super nice, but we wondered what he was going to do with those knives. Once we passed him at a shady spot and haven’t seen him since.
Along the way we also saw a full set of clothes, cowboy boots and all, next to the trail. I have no idea what to think of that except that someone is in the desert with no clothes!
Around 3 pm, we came to a large hill to climb, so we took a short break, then opened up our umbrellas to protect us from the sun and started off.
The climb wasn’t too hard and we made good time getting to Lake Morena campground.
We took a short stroll down the road to a small grocery store and got ice cream and a milkshake to celebrate our first day. We mat two other guys there and chatted with them on the way back to the camp.
Eric and I decided to continue down the trail a bit because we heard the campground got cold at night since its in a valley. Another two miles brought us to a great site on a ridge, just as the sun was setting. We had just enough time to set up camp before it was really dark.
In total we passes 13 hikers (4 women) on our first day. And we didn’t get passed at all.
One of the great things about backpacking is going to bed whenever you want so by 9 pm I was out, feeling good about our 22 mile day to start the PCT.