Prior to hiking the Bibbulmun Track and the Pacific Crest Trail, I drove to my mailbox to get the mail!
Although I didn’t have much experience in long-distance walking, it is now starting to become second nature. I walk the only way I know – one day at a time, one mountain at a time, one switchback at a time, and sometimes even one step at a time. Often, I get into this zone and loose all track of time. Most of us thru-hikers probably could not even tell you what day of the week it is.
I guess I do a lot of daydreaming and contemplation but mostly I just live in the moment with an unclouded mind. Sometimes I have so much energy that I can run up a mountain like there’s no tomorrow and other days I feel so worn out that I need a pack-off break every mile.
Trail life is really interesting and puts you in contact with some really incredible people. I’ve met recent college grads, Woodstock hippies, doctors and lawyers, societal dropouts, homeless trail residents, aspiring thru-hikers from all over the world (particularly Germany, Australia, England, and Switzerland), Triple Crown hikers and even a professional Olympian.
Trail towns are definitely an important part to trail life. One hiker named Julie that I was talking to on trail made a profound statement. She said, “towns are the great equalizer.” What this means is that despite your ambitious daily mileage, how much time you spend in towns and on breaks could add up the same as someone with lower daily mileage but who is more efficient and resourceful in towns.
I frequently run into new “bubbles” the faster that I hike, seeing new faces on the trail. I started May 14th and I have managed to catch up with some bubbles that started as early as April 24th from the Mexican border. At the same time, I see familiar faces that disappear and reappear as the “leapfrogging effect” occurs. This is the result of differing halt lengths, town visits, wake-up times, and countless other factors that are part of the daily hiking routine.
Rabbit and I have been hiking “ten before ten” and then unusually we hike 15 miles throughout the afternoon and early evening. We try to make camp by 6pm and break camp at 5:30am for a 6am departure.
From Casa de Luna in Agua Dulce, we road in the back of trail angel Fred’s pickup and hightailed it back to the trailhead. From this point, we hiked to Hikertown, which is like this Western movie set turned into a hiker hostel. The shower for hikers was in the Sheriff’s building.
Hiking the L.A. Aqueduct was truly sensational as it was stepping on a piece of history begun in the early 1900s. After the Aqueduct, the trail took us through numerous windmill farms that were windy beyond description. One night I was cowboy camping. I went to turn my head to get more comfortable and my blow-up pillow took off in the wind! I retrieved it several yards away the next morning.
We resupplied in the desert town of Mojave. We got a hitch into town from a trail angel from Bakersfield named Paul. Over breakfast at Denny’s, Rabbit and I realized we were sitting down with a thru-hiking legend. Come to find out, Paul was one of the first 25 people to thru-hike the PCT back in 1977. He shared how his pack weight back then exceeded 80 pounds and showed us some of the pictures he took hiking the Sierras in blue jeans.
In Mojave, a local retired man spotted us and offered Rabbit and I a ride back to the trail, which was 9 miles away. This was Walker Pass. We hiked back up some 2300 feet of elevation gain, which is not uncommon after coming down to a mountain pass.
Finally, after hiking up 6200 miles of elevation gain over two big mountains in one day, we soon after hit 700 miles on the trail, coming into Kennedy Meadows. This marked the end of the 700-mile desert section. Kennedy Meadows, known as the “Gateway to the Sierras,” is the transition on the PCT from the desert to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This hiker-friendly town of 200 has a general store, outfitter, and a quaint bar & grill called Grumpy Bear.
I zeroed here at Kennedy Meadows, which was only my second zero since starting from Campo at the Mexican border. It was just under a month, and I had completed the desert section of the PCT. The Sierras will be my next big obstacle. In this section, I’ll get to summit Mt. Whitney, which is the highest point in the contiguous United States. I’ll also be timing my hike in such a way to meet up with family at the Tioga Pass Road crossing in Tuolmne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. From here I’ll take the much-anticipated side-trip to see Half Dome and El Capitan in Yosemite Valley