Day 2: Mile 11- past Lake Morena to mile 26; 15 miles
Day 3: Mile 26 – 36; 10 miles
Day 4: Mile 36 – 45.5; 9.5 miles plus Mt. Laguna town resupply

The first stretch of the PCT from the Mexican border to Mt. Laguna has been great. We are seeing beautiful landscapes, observing interesting wildlife, getting our legs accustomed to our pack weight and daily mileage, and meeting friendly people.


The scenery tends to be low shrubs covering rolling hills with occasional wildflowers interspersed.

However, there are plenty of exceptions. Stands of large oak trees grow near creeks, some sections have rocky outcrops, and as we gained elevation near Mt Laguna we entered a pine forest. One of our favorite spots was near a big oak tree that looked to be hundreds of years old. Old trees have a calming but powerful presence and we really enjoyed that campsite.


During the hottest part of the day, several thru hikers tend to cluster together in one of the few shady places along the trail. We’ve met many interesting people from around the world – New Zealand, Japan, Hawaii, and all over the continental US. We’ve spent the most time chatting with Aaron and Laura from Bend, OR. They already thru hiked the PCT once, and are back to do it a second time! The common theme with everyone we’ve met on the trail is that they are happy and excited to be here.

We’ve also enjoyed watching and listening to the southern California critters. Two days ago we saw a snake peeking out of a hole, and another on the trail. We’ve seen several horny toads sunning themselves on a rocks. They look ancient with their dinosaur-like armor. Yesterday we watched the lizard pictured below hunt and eat a spider. We are learning more about the birds native to this area, and recently learned the acorn woodpecker’s call.


After a few hours in the town of Mt. Laguna we are restocked with food and on our way again.



  1. It’s neat that you are meeting many other hikers. I’m curious as to how many people are on the entire PCT at any given time.


    1. Hi Barb! About 300 people attempt to thru hike the PCT every year, and most start at the end of April. But many more hike sections of the trail, especially in the seven National Parks the trail passes through. We’ve mostly been encountering other thru hikers so far, but some day hikers and one horse packer too.


  2. It is so fun to be able to share in some of the scenery that you are passing through. It looks so serene and beautiful! Remember how I had to take off my shoes and walk through a stream when we were in Colorado cause I couldn’t balance on a log? Now I can see I need those trekking poles so I too can cross streams like a pro. :-)


    1. The landscape really is wonderful! And very different when we climb up to a higher elevation.

      I remember that stream crossing! Trekking poles really do help for stream crossings, and also we find they reduce injuries while hiking because you can catch yourself very quickly if you stumble or step wrong. They save our knees on downhills too. I bet you would like them!


    1. Yesterday we bought mac and cheese, instant mashed potatoes, tortillas and cheese, trail mix, granola bars, and a few other odds and ends. We also bought alcohol for our stove. So nothing fancy, but it serves the purpose well. Some towns have an actual grocery store where you have more options, but this was just a little country store.


  3. I LOVE the lighting you captured in the oak tree. Did I ever tell you that oaks have a unique characteristic? When one oak is not getting enough water, other oaks in the vacinity join roots & share their water!


    1. Thanks Margaret! It’s exciting to photograph in all different sorts of light out here. I didn’t know that about oaks, very cool. It sounds similar to aspens, whose roots connect to form one big organism.


  4. Very cool! Although i must admit surprise at someone doing the PCT a 2nd time. I wonder how common that is on the long hikes?


    1. It’s not common, but there are people who make a lifestyle out of hiking long trails. Some people will hike the same trail multiple times, while others will hike the Appalachian Trail, PCT, and Continental Divide Trail, usually in that order. People who complete all three are called Triple Crowners.

      And hey, as far as cost of living goes, rent on the trail is pretty cheap!


  5. glad to read of your great start! We had a tremendous storm last night with hail. It was so loud it woke up our 10 mo. old baby…crying!!! I can’t imagine what it would be like to hear it from the inside of a tent! I hope you all do not encounter such weather along the way. The kids and I need to add you 2 and travelling friends you meet on our “prayer board” at home (a simple white erase board). Looks like a great start!! Thanks for the great pic’s! (kids need pic’s!) and we like ’em too!


    1. Thanks Gina and Ed. Glad the whole family is enjoying the blog. Photos are cool because they are such a universal language. And yes, a storm is much more intense experienced from within tent walls. Luckily I’m so tired at the end of the day I can sleep through a lot of racket.


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