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.

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

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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.

Day 8-11: Rainbows, Eagles, and Cowboy Camping

Day 8: Mile 87-101; 14 miles

We were battered by a fierce storm last night, but stayed dry. Rain continued into the morning, and we emerged from our tent to a sweet rainbow.

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We began hiking and found a crazy mix of wind, rain, sun, clouds, and blue sky — sometimes all at once! Looking across the valley, we saw billowing clouds resting on the top of the far ridge with deep blue sky above.

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We walked to the water cache at mile 91 where we found many water jugs. Several trail angels puts in a ton of effort to bring water up here. We were grateful as without the cache, this could have been a 33 mile dry stretch.

Day 5-7: Life in the Desert

Day 5: Mile 45.5-59.5; 14 miles
Day 6: Mile 59.5-72; 12.5 miles
Day 7: Mile 72- 87; 15 miles

The past three days have continued to be beautiful and filled with fun experiences. In order to give folks a sense of our new lifestyle we decided to focus this post on the details of one day, day 6.

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6 AM: Woke up after a very windy and foggy night. Both of us were awakened several times during the night by the wind pummeling the fabric of our tent. We changed into hiking clothing and packed up sleeping bags, tent, and other gear. Then we ate granola with powdered milk for breakfast.

7 AM: Started hiking in the cooler part of the day, just after sunrise. The wind was so strong it was hard to balance at times. We chatted with a fellow thru hiker named Dazzle as we walked through rolling hills in the Anza Borrego Desert.

Day 2-4: Easing In

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.

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

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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.