As I made my first steps on this epic adventure, it didn’t feel much different than any other hike. That surprised me. Shouldn’t I feel excitement? Maybe it just hadn’t hit me yet. Reality does kick in when at Mile One, I was already shedding the warm clothes. No more room in the pack, so things are tied to my waist, tucked under the hip belt and hang off the pack.
The plan was no more than 30 pounds. Actual was 33, oh and another two for the extra liter I decided to add at the last minute. (Just had to carry the shiny new PCT themed nalgene bottle I couldn’t resist at REI) Forget luxury item, that was pure VANITY!
We opt to hit 11 miles for our first campsite. I was ready to plant at 8.5, but was convinced that two and a half more miles was doable. It meant my first night hike! Wishing I had actually put new batteries in the headlamp, I hoped it wouldn’t fail me. (Even though fresh batteries was on my last-minute to-do list on the day of departure, I wasn’t awake enough at 4 am to figure out how to install them!)
Day two was breezy and cold. Gusts grew stronger as the morning progressed. I was grateful for the merino wool buff I could pull up over my ears and cover my mouth as the wind blew grit and sand into my face.
The descent into Hauser was beautiful. We rested at the bottom and cooked lunch before attacking the ascent. It was a long slow effort. People passed me up like I was standing still…Oh yeah…I might have been…. catching my breath and letting my heartrate come back to normal.
The last stretch into Lake Morena was like nothing. I put on Jay Unger’s Harvest Home Album and danced down the trail. Gotta love good fiddle music to get you through.
Even though we were tired and our feet complained after setting up camp, Debbie and I walked to the Lake Morena Malt Shop and had good warm food. Good thing too, we needed the extra warmth for the cold night to come. Knowing the next day would be a leisurely six mile hike, we lingered at the campsite. We took our time with breakfast, repacked our backpacks and ditched trash. Having been a chilly night, the morning warmed quickly as the sun rose in the sky.
Lots was learned on our first three days. Like the funny sounds we make while inflating our sleeping pad, (Some things are funnier when you’re tired) it’s always a good idea to have fresh batteries in your headlamp, and take more toilet paper along than you think you’ll need.