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.

PCT Training in Canyonlands National Park

We figure the best way to train for thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, is, surprise, surprise, to go backpacking. After checking out Salt Lake City and before heading to Fort Collins, we spent six days backpacking in Canyonlands National Park, in Utah. We covered almost the entire Needles District of the park, camping at Chesler Park 4, Elephant Canyon 1, Lost Canyon 1, Salt Creek 4, and Salt/Horse, and exploring  several side trails as well.

Canyonlands is one of the few completely silent places we’ve ever been. It is amazing, and a bit unsettling, to listen intently and hear absolutely nothing – no human sounds, no natural sounds – just utter silence. In a space devoid of sound, you begin to notice your breathing and your heartbeat. In the morning, the occasional bird call echoes through the canyons, which is quite beautiful as it breaks through silence and fades back into it.

The Big Dipper between two needles

We didn’t encounter many other hikers here. For the most part, we had the massive, often otherworldly landscape all to ourselves. This added to the intensity of the experience, which was personal and powerful.