PCT - Southern California

On my way to San Diego, I lost my wallet. That's kind of a problem because food and things like that cost money and losing my wallet meant I had no money. Thankfully, I was staying with Scout and Frodo for the night and one of the trail angels helping them out, Proton (he hiked the PCT in 2016 also and we knew a lot of the same people), drove me to a bank where I was able to get money.

Scout and Frodo offer a service free of charge to PCT hikers in that we can spend the night before we start hiking the trail with them and then shuttle us out to the Southern Terminus. I can't think of a better way to start the PCT and would recommend to anyone hiking the PCT to start with Scout and Frodo.

Scout and Frodo.

I got to spend an afternoon, evening, and morning with other PCT hikers who definitely hyped me up for my hike. They probably hyped me up too much. We shuttled out to the Southern Terminus in the morning in a foggy, cool day and got a group picture at the monument. We seemed to have a mini PCT class of 2016 reunion as there was five of us all in the same place.

Everyone in this picture stayed with Scout and Frodo. I'm the person on top.

After that was done, I took off in a half jog ecstatic to be on the trail where I fell in love with long distance hiking. In barely over five hours, I arrived at Lake Morena (PCT mile 20) feeling good and took a short lunch break before continuing on. I finished the day with a new single day mileage record of 42.2 miles, but felt a little off by the end of the day.

A little off turned into a significant problem as the IT Band on my right knee stiffened up over night and my left foot had a lot of pain as well. For the first time on a long distance hike, I took some pain-killers. By the end of the day, my left IT Band also flared up and I unsuccessfully tried to hitch a ride into Julian so I could purchase a knee brace. Instead, I figured out that if I tied my bandannas around the bottom of my knees, the relief was enough to keep hiking fairly strong. My mantra at this time became, "if I can walk, I can hike, and if I can hike, I'm going to keep going."

After some trail magic on my third day, I felt quite a bit of relief and managed to hike past Eagle Rock and Warner Springs feeling good once again. I still had to be careful with how I sat or my knees would stiffen up.

Having fun at Eagle Rock.

I kept noticing differences from my 2016 hike. First, when I saw clouds hovering in a valley in 2016, the trail always led me away from the clouds, but this time, I seemed to always go in them.

Clear sky or cloudy depending on where I was at. I walked into the clouds.

Second, the wildflowers didn't have the same bloom I experienced in 2018. Third, the sunsets didn't seem as good.

Sunrise near the summit of Baden-Powell.

None of that mattered as I made good time and was reminded about how beautiful and stinky us long distance hikers are.

I love this message. The water cache was also greatly needed.

I reached Kennedy Meadows in the morning on my 19th day on trail and by then, my knees and foot felt good again. Hiking the desert faster allowed me to carry less water and have fewer scorching hot days.

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