Catching Up: Week One on the PCT

Thank to a solar charger that only charged my phone for three seconds at a time, I haven’t been able to blog as much as I had hoped. In reality, the first two weeks of hiking were almost entirely consumed with walking, eating, or sleeping, so I probably wouldn’t have blogged even with unlimited power. But it seemed like a nice excuse.

So, to catch up, I’m just going to write a few quick highlights from each day of the first week.

Day 2: I spent most of the day being blown away by how gorgeous southern California was. Miguel and I walked about twelve miles from Lake Morena to a campground that is either Cibbet’s Creek or Cibbet’s Flat, depending on which sign you read. Though it was sunny most of the day, it turned to rain shortly after we got to the campground. Wendy, Jasmine, and Clint had saved us a spot under 2 sprawling oak trees, so we spent most of the evening huddling in our tents and talking to one another through the rainflies.


Day Three: We had an easy 10 miles from Cibbet’s to Mount Laguna. I was extremely hangry by the time I got there, but luckily my hiking partners didn’t shoot me for it–instead, we went to a cafe and had burgers, then rented a cabin for the express purpose of letting our stuff dry out. The cabin was two rooms and every time the furnace kicked on I thought there was thunder, but they provided us with a Styrofoam cup of laundry soap and a few five gallon buckets, so we felt fortunate indeed. Every hook, rod, and doorknob was covered with our wet things from the night before. We spent the evening watching Family Feud and not regretting that we weren’t in the storm outside.


Day four: The climb our of Mount Laguna had been one of the coolest parts of the trip. For miles the trail hugs the edge of Storm Canyon, a plain that the natives used to live in during the winter before heading to the mountains we were climbing through to escape the summer heat. Also, there was a sign near the trail that gave the name and history of the canyon. Who am I to pass up a good sign?

We camped that night with about a dozen others on a very exposed mountain top near a horse trough, which we filtered water from the next morning. I slept terribly because of the wind, but around midnight I remembered I had earplugs in my bag and fell soundly asleep. It turns out, the wind died shortly thereafter anyways and a heavy fog rolled in. And that’s how we ended up stuffing wet tents into our packs yet again.




Day five: What do you get when you combine out-running thunderstorms, sitting on a cactus, and sleeping under an overpass? Just another day on the PCT, of course! After an adventurous 15-17 miles, a group of about 16 of us slept under the bridge at Scissors Crossing. When we arrived we found trail magic: a box of oranges, avocados, and strawberries left by Magic Rob, the son of a thru-hiker who wasn’t even there at that moment. It was the best dinner I’d had the whole trail, including the burgers in town.




Day 6: Sometimes, you spend the morning climbing the barren side of a mountain that isn’t nearly as scenic as the ones you climbed yesterday, and it’s hot and you forget to reapply sunscreen and you wonder how terribly this trip will age your hands and it’s too windy to use your umbrella for shade and you’re getting passed by 60-year-olds, literal 60-year-olds! And should you just go home because otherwise you have to do the distance you’ve just done like 25 more times to get to Canada–and then you find yourself camping on a ridge on top of a mountain with some of the 60-year-olds who passed you, and you get to watch the world turn purple and you realize, you only get to do this like 25 more times before you get to Canada.



Day 7: I spent most of my last day of Section A enjoying the giant oak trees we got to pass by. There was more trail magic, and this time I got to meet Magic Rob and his dad, Papa Buff!! He met about ten of us where the trail meets a road, and brought us avocado and tomato sandwiches, chips, fruit, drinks, and–wonder of wonders!–brownies!!! After a lovely rest in which we all politely asked after one anothers’ injuries, we continued 6 miles to Warner Springs.

The walk there was one of my favorite parts of the trail. There were miles of prairie, with violets, dandelions, poppies, and lamb’s ear all rustling in the gentle breeze. At one point we had to get off the trail because there were cows in the way. And we saw Eagle Rock, a clump of boulders shaped like an Eagle. Luckily, my phone died just before we reached that spot, so I have no photos to post. However, I did get some on Miguel’s phone, so I’ll have them eventually.

When we finally shuffled into Warner Springs around 4, we were given a 5-gallon bucket and towel. They had hot water and privacy stalls in the back. Once I washed, I cleaned my clothes and added them to the chain-link fence behind the Resource Center to dry. With so many hikers camping there, it was hard to find a spot big enough for all my clothes. Miguel and I decided to take the next day off.



Published by Andrea Umfleet

Writer, Backpacker, Freelance Technical Editor. Owner of Trask Mountain Editing. I like the Oxford comma.

3 thoughts on “Catching Up: Week One on the PCT

  1. Yay!! Great to hear your stories – or even just brief narratives about a day on the trail. I look forward to any notice in my email that you’ve posted something. Blessings, Andrea. have fun. Be safe.


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