As I’ve continued to trek on these desertic foothills, I’ve met many great people, genuine souls, the dwellers I remember from the Appalachian Trail. Many conversations have been had with these hikers and accommodators, and in these I often find questions of my opinions and plans of the trail to come.
To most of these questions is a response like, “I have no idea,” or “I know nothing.” And though I’m snowballing an idea of what’s ahead as these questions are better entertained by those with more foresight, it’s not a half-baked response. I knew little coming into this venture; just what I sought. Some may see this as naïve, but I love the mystery, surprise, and last-minute scheming.
Still I couldn’t help but wonder where I would be in five or six days. There were ample possibilities. That I would be taking a day off (“Zero Day,” if you were looking to expand your thru-hiking lexicon) in a trailer with four other hikers I now consider friends, in a town fourteen miles from the trail, was not one of these foreseen.
I’m not writing this article to tell you the story of how I got here. This would be more felicitous in the context of a book, maybe one born of a manuscript titled Boot Camp for Stoners 2. I want my readers to see this is the scene, however. Anything can happen out here, good and bad. This is great.
The trail here is nothing like the Appalachian. I consider the Shenandoahs to be the easiest part of the AT, and I think the Pacific Crest has been easier than even this. While many do say the trail becomes more difficult in sections farther north, the entirety of it is graded for horses, so I’m not sure how much difficulty that could entail. Getting a break from eastern terrain is relieving, but I do look forward to some more challenging trail.
It’s scarce. So far, I would estimate it’s been 85% human provided. A reality like this makes me wonder how people hiked this trail back before all this accommodation existed. Ten to fifteen mile gaps between sources has been the norm. The water from springs and cisterns is usually dirty, so it needs to be filtered.
I was informed there are no shelters on this trail (at least not in this part) the night before I embarked on this journey. There are many camping spots, however, solo and congregational, and occasionally the trail passes through campgrounds. The vegetation and uneven terrain make it difficult to find undocumented ground to tent on.
The beating sun, dry air, hot days, and windy tendencies of the southern California desert compensate for the easy terrain. This weather seems even more adverse because I had never encountered a western climate prior to coming here. Hiking in this is dehydrating, and because of the water gaps I’ve had to carry up to four liters of water at a time.
As soon as the sun goes down, the temperature drops dramatically, and a good sleep requires bundling up. Not even a minuscule drop of rain has fallen from the sky since stepping on trail, and the forecast is predicting this to be consistent for (the furthest it will show) ten days to come. I don’t recommend living in the desert.
Resupply/ Town Accommodation
The trail angels (people who help hikers) are here and active. Without them, I imagine things would be much more difficult. Towns are not as close to the trail as they were on the Appalachian. The one I am in now, Julian, is fourteen miles away. The shuttling of hikers into this town is done mostly by one guy, “Legend,” who gives the rides free of charge.
This is the trail so far! Obviously, things will keep changing, and after several-hundred more miles, I’ll finally be done with this dang desert! One thing I know with surety by now is I really, really like trees, and I took them for granted on the Appalachian (no offense to brush, it just does nothing but gives me a widespread display of daily scratches to brandish). Regardless, I’m having a hell of a time, the people on the trail are kind, lively, and free-spirited, and the landscape is breathtaking. I am ecstatic for what’s ahead.
Things have changed! Stay tuned for more.
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