Day 3: 4/11/14, PCT mile 47.5

PCT Miles walked today: 15.5
Camped at Mt Laguna campground (0.5 mile one way from PCT)

Ahh, the unmistakable smell of campfires! Usually not one of my favorites as the scent gets into everything (not an improvement on hiker funk IMO) but tonight it’s a happy smell as it’s reminding me of the last campfire I experienced on the AT – in the 100 mile wilderness with Double Dare, on one of the few afternoons I stopped mid-afternoon, as well as all the campfires during summer vacations growing up. Susan and I are camped here at Mt Laguna campground amidst a decent amount of weekenders in their campers and big car camping tents. Future PCT-ers, note that this is a nice option if you don’t want to go beyond the camping ban in the Laguna area, but the shower house is quite far from the entrance. Too far, frankly, for me to care. We are planning to go into Julian on Monday morning, so I should be good and stinky by then. Oh, wait, I am now! It is a different feel out here in the west, though, despite my crusty nose I’m not missing the humidity at all.

It’s amazing how quickly I’ve settled into the thru hiker lifestyle again – I already have no idea what day of the week it is, much less the date, unless I look at my watch. Funny, my watch is one of the few items that went on the entire AT with me, and now the PCT. Hitting town and focusing on food to eat, recharging electronics, then shopping came back real quick! Resupplying at the Mt Laguna store today seemed like no time had passed since I had last done so in Maine, though I admit it was at first quite strange to be there with Joan instead of Blackhawk. I miss you, stick buddy!

Joan’s enthusiasm and the newness of the entire experience for her is very neat to watch. She also sincerely thanked me for giving her a used, dirty ziplock that had been stored in my trash bag. Granted, it’s only Day 3, how dirty can it be already?? (FYI ziplocks are a hot commodity on the trail). Take a look at my one pair of socks that I rinsed in the Visitor’s Center sink today – they were brand sparkling new and white yesterday morning believe it or not.

Today’s hike had an amazing amount of contrast, how I am loving the desert chaparral so far – incredibly diverse environments and stunning views. We went over 6000 feet today (which was high on the AT) and it’s blowing my mind that the highest point on the PCT is over 12,000 feet, at Forrester pass in the Sierra, IIRC. We had gotten up even earlier today to try to beat the heat, and were out of camp by 6am. It was just getting somewhat light out, and was a perfect time to hike, I so love the light at dawn and dusk. I’m really buying into the whole get up early, hike, siesta, and then hike again in the evening pan. I felt so much better today dealing with the heat and sun, and finally had a good appetite, though the temps were only in the 70s and town food is always special. Taking the siesta after 10 miles and in town made us all smile. Forecast calls for temps in the 60s the next 2 days, which is good news with the exposed area we’re going into. The burn area we hiked through at the end of the day was simply stunning, and crazy windy. The stark and desolate desert we are about to enter looks intimidating, as evidenced by one of us saying several times from overlooks, “we’re really going into that?”

Gear notes: Oh gear malfunctions – really several already?? It’s day 3, for goodness sake. The old umbrella is definitely dying quickly – and even worse broke further in the crazy wind this afternoon. I look even more homeless than usual with it flapping around, but hopefully it will hang in there just a little longer. The more problematic failure was my old thermarest sleeping pad – I had a feeling before I left that it was dying, and it completely failed last night – as in after blowing it up the air was gone within a minute. It was hard to tell but I think I blew out a seam versus getting a pin prick hole. RIP. I was lucky that there is an outfitter in Mt Laguna, and Dave there quickly set me up with a ZRest torso pad. Yes, I went foam rather than inflatable to give it a try – foam is very handy during the siesta, and I’ve actually never tried one alone before, only in combination when winter camping. We’ll see how it works out – I can always order a new XLite. So far tonight I’m a tad chilly but without my quilt cinched down, and it’s cold here tonight (for the first time I put on my down puffy while eating dinner) and windy. I do love my new Zpacks tent, but it doesn’t block the wind like my old Copper Spur does, that’s for sure! An excuse to get on my down mittens, which along with the booties have been on the “bounce ahead” list since Day 1.





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