Day 21-25: Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace (LNT) is a set of principles aimed at leaving the world in the same condition as you found it. Whether you’re day hiking, backpacking, or living in the city, you can apply these principles to limit your impact on our environment. Every day on the Pacific Crest Trail, the Leave No Trace ethic guides our behavior:
– In the morning after packing up our belongings, we check the campsite to make sure it’s pristine, especially looking for small items like tent stakes and trash.

– As our tummies start to grumble, we eat granola bars for breakfast. The wrappers go into our trash bag. We pack out all of our trash.
– We always follow the trail, especially in steep switchbacked sections, where short cuts cause serious erosion and destabilization problems for future hikers.

Day 17-20: Chutes and Ladders

The Pacific Crest Trail, as the name implies, follows crests of mountain ranges, so we have come to expect ups and downs. But when we looked at the elevation graphs for the upcoming section of trail, we knew we were in for a doozy.

Day 17: Saddle Junction (Mile 179.5)-Fuller Ridge (189.5) + 2.5 leaving Idyllwild; 12.5 miles

From Idyllwild we walked up the Devils Slide trail to Saddle Junction. The trail snakes up the mountainside, climbing 1700 feet in two and a half miles. After reaching Saddle Junction, we walked a few miles then stopped to heat up ramen at a nice spot with a view.


We climbed further to Fuller Ridge at 8800 feet. We encountered significant snow there which slowed our progress. While the trail was passable, the snow was icy and slippery and we each fell. We wished we had our Microspikes. We were carrying 9 days of food, and the extra weight caused our packs to work against us when we shifted our weight on snowy slopes. This was a rough day mentally for Anna.


Finally, losing sunlight and tired, we found a small meadow (half snow covered) suitable for camping. We ate cheese and dried cherries and camped there.

Day 12-16: Changes

Day 12: Mile 126.5-140, plus 0.5 miles off trail for water; 14 miles
Day 13: Mile 140-156; 16 miles
Day 14: Mile 156-167.5; 11.5 miles
Day 15: Mile 167.5-179.5 + 2.5 mile side trail into Idyllwild; 14.5 miles
Day 16: Zero day in Idyllwild

In the last few days we experienced many changes in our surroundings and our bodies.

In 53 miles we walked from desert to pine forest, and from 3500 feet of elevation to 8600 feet. Cacti and scrub brush dominated the low lying desert landscape of the Anza Borrego Desert State Park.


By contrast, in the high peaks of the San Jacinto Wilderness, pine trees hugged the mountainsides.


In the desert we rose early, before 6, to walk a few miles before the sun’s heat grew intense. Around noon we found a shady spot to cook dinner and rest. Conversely, high in the San Jacinto range, the temperature was much cooler so we could walk comfortably mid-day.