May 5, Day 1
20.5 miles [20.5]
I am absolutely stunned at how beautiful it all is. Met Ian and got my portrait taken, he says he'll be at the northern terminus sometime in October. Twenty minutes into our hike, we crossed the first of many milestones; mile-marker 1. It was hard not to smile. Two miles in, we double-backed into Campo for water. I later realized Hauser Creek was 15 miles away and the two liters of water I initially brought wasn't even going to last 10 miles. Saw a dozen or more hikers and found myself jumping to conclusions about their abilities. They probably knew about the lack of water sources though. Before Morena Mountain, we met “Charlie”, a weathered man on a motorbike. “You guys know you're crazy, right?” We chuckled and declined his offer for water—that lesson already learned. Adam seemed to be a wizard with Guthooks; kicking myself for not trying it out sooner. “The malt shop closes at 8 p.m., that's my goal” he said dryly as the sun was setting. At 7:59 p.m., we arrived wet and tired. Split a shake and french fries. Can't help but think this wasn't 'deserved'. Today was a butt-kicker, I've got to remember to drink more water—take care of yourself.
May 6, Day 2
19 miles [39.5]
First full day on-trail! It got intensely hot quickly; tomorrow we're going to need to start earlier. A few miles in we stopped and chatted with a woman who introduced herself as “Nona From Nowhere”. She waved a bag of peanuts still in their shells at Adam and I. “You guys got names yet?” We shook our heads, smiled, and introduced our real names. “Hey Illinois, want some peanuts?” she said to Casey, the girl we'd been leapfrogging all morning. A big grin covered her face, “you know, I'm a Triple-Crowner,” she said wryly. “I angel a little bit up in Vancouver—you'll see me later.” She bid us a safe journey and we thanked her for the peanuts. The rest of the afternoon was rather uneventful. In the evening, when I went to put away my umbrella, I was stunned to find my second hiking pole was missing. It must have snagged on a branch and been stripped from my pack. My music was far too loud to have heard anything. Adam and I double-backed for more than a mile to no avail. Bummed to have lost a piece of gear so early, but I can't imagine a day when I won't need the umbrella. For now, #onepolepatrol.
May 7, Day 3
20 miles [59.5]
Started the morning strong with a Snickers bar. Made it to Pine Tree Lodge for some biscuits and gravy and a fresh espresso—I couldn't resist. Briefly stopped at the Mount Laguna general store; got a Budweiser and some chips. What a quaint little town. Today was also my first trail magic! At Roadside Lookout, we met Andrew and Jamie, who gave us ice-cold sodas and regaled us with stories of just how bad Scissors Crossing was going to be. Got moving after a nice long break, cool breezes made today tolerable. Filled up water and crushed the beer at Penny Pines Point; this carry has to last until Julian tomorrow—28 miles. After the sun had set, I took of my shirt for the last few miles of the day. Refreshing evening air filled the canyon as stars slowly began to appear.
May 8, Day 4
20.9 miles [80.4]
I'm getting better at waking up earlier; today we started hiking at 6:40 a.m. Although it seemed like there was only a few hours of tolerable hiking weather before it got insanely hot. The entire slog to Scissors Crossing was novelty-hot. My water tasted about 95 degrees. Every few miles I saw a full, unopened Lifewtr, each bottle scrawled with “the desert is a cruel bitch” in Sharpie. There were rumors of a guy who didn't carry enough water and had to turn back—apparently these bottles were his offering. Finally we made it to Scissors Crossing, I Was nervous how my fist hitch was going to pan out. Five minutes later, we were zooming into Julian with our new friend, “Monica from Santa Monica”. Hikers in town said pie couldn't be missed; but we opted for jalapenos and sausage at Romano's instead.