Miles: 20
Camping at: Morena Lake Campground
Hikers seen on trail: 10

I woke up at 4:45 from a dream that involved a rattle snake too big to be real. I wasn’t scared, merely intrigued; an indication that it was not, in fact, a stress dream. I felt great, and took a shower that will likely be the last of its kind for some time.

Frodo was up cutting fruit and making french toast for breakfast, and there was also some chile relleno frittata. Guinness, Xtra Stout and I ate anxiously awaiting the big day that was to follow. The other 3 guys staying at the house are starting Wednesday, so Scout took the 3 of us to the trailhead at 5:45. The drive was beautiful, and the anticipation grew as we got closer.

As we arrived, Xtra Stout remarked that it was like “our” driveway. I have no idea if she meant their driveway back home or like our driveway to the trail. I like to think the latter, and that the southern terminus is like our front door and we have a long walk to the back door, seeing as the trail is our home for the summer.

After the obligatory photos at the monument, we hit the trail at 7:11am. We left a young man named Michael at the monument getting his picture taken a hundred times by his mom… but we guessed we would see him down the trail.

The first 7 miles were real easy, and we cruised along pretty fast before taking our first break 2 hours in. Michael blew right by us and we never saw him again, which we expected. The trail got a bit steeper after that, and I began feeling the weight of my pack for the first time, but I felt great nonetheless. So many times I caught myself smiling from ear to ear and thinking, “I’m on the PCT!!”

The scenery was beautiful and unique, with sections that reminded me of Lumpy Ridge behind my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Estes Park, CO (hi Craig and Pam!) There were lots of cool rock formations, and everything was a lot greener than I expected. So many plants I’ve never seen and Yucca that was taller than most people (the one’s who don’t play for the NBA). I loved seeing the landscape change as our elevation changed, and the 3 of us keep pretty much the same pace, so we stuck together all day long.

At 10.5 miles we stopped for lunch as the heat of the day amped up. We found a spot under some manzanita where another hiker had already set up. Her name is Emily and she was only looking to do half of the trail. We all chatted, ate snacks and elevated our feet in the shade. I used some of Xtra Stout’s leukotape for a hot spot that was beginning to develop on the sole of my left foot…I’ve never heard of it before, but it already seems to be better than moleskin (it actually sticks!).

The next 5 miles grew increasingly hotter as we passed 2 girls resting in the shade of some small trees, and an older gentleman from Corvallis clinging to a small puddle of shade near a rock wall. We then found ourselves walking along an exposed dirt road under some powerlines. It was HOT, and we stood next to a boulder providing some cool shade and called it trail magic…before experiencing our very first real trail magic!

There is an oasis of trees in a place called Hauser Canyon, where normally a stream runs through, providing plenty of water. Since the stream was dried up, some kind soul had left about 2 dozen gallons of water there for hikers. It is so touching to see that kind of support, and it really made me feel like i was a part of something wonderful. We lounged with our feet up and enjoyed some of the bounty before the gruelingly hot climb out of the canyon.

The climb was exposed entirely to the afternoon sun, and we climbed up slowly, knowing that somewhere on the other side was Lake Morena. We already looked forward to the showers at the campground (our skin was so salty) and burgers from the store. It was rough, but I was still smiling to myself, “I’m on the PCT!!”

On the climb we passed a man who was taking it real slow, and he said, “see you at the lake,” as we walked by. For some reason this moved me, as we are a family out here, even if we are just beginning, and it’s beautiful. I love the trail!

It was about mile 18 when I decided I’d had my fill for the first day, but only 2 miles from the lake I pushed on. It was hard on the soles of my feet and my back was tired, but my body impressed me today. I think I’m going to do well out here, and I look forward to seeing myself get stronger.

Camp has been uneventful. Everyone here (about 8 hikers including us) seem beat from the day…aside from the residual partiers from the kickoff party that was here this weekend. They were pretty well rested and most moved on near dusk. The rest of us ate pizza and burgers, took showers and are going to bed with the sun.

It feels good and I’m sleepy…so that will have to be the story of day 1 on the PCT. It’s been a great day, and I look forward to more to come! Goodnight.