Day 3 – Lake Morena to Cibbets Flat Campground

20160418_085714April 18,2016: Wild turkeys gobbling loudly and a truck doing wheelies around the campground meant little sleep for us.  Woke to ice on our tents and everyone needed something hot to get going.  Lorian and I started our hike out of Lake Morena to a beautiful day nonetheless and a deceptively easy hike through lush meadow lands into the Boulder Oaks campground near Cottonwood Creek.

Eddie and Alicia already there and lunching and we stayed for a while to dry out our tents on the horse corrals.  The campgound was closed to actual overnight camping, however, as it is apparently toad mating season…

Alicia and I set out after lunch with the goal of reaching the Fred Canyon campsite.  The hike again started in lush meadows crossing Interstate 8, but then turned to a steep climb up a mostly exposed, rocky ridgeline 100 feet anove Kitchen Creek.

During this climb, I had my first encounter with a rattlesnake.  As I put my trekking pole down preparing to walk through a narrow opening between the rock wall and the rocks and brush on the ledge, the viper warned me quite loudly that he was present underneath one of the rocks.  I stopped, backed up about 10 feet, and felt the little pangs of panic setting in.  I had no choice but to walk within inches of whichever rock he was under.  Perhaps I could avoid this fate if only I knew which rock!  Even after tossing rocks toward the ominous rattle, he would not reveal his stealthy location.

So, I waited once the rattling of both viper and my nerves subsided, I did what any brave PCT Hiker would do – I hugged the rock wall and chimmied sideways trying to get the farthest away from Mr. Rattles home while still moving as quickly as I could.  I then hiked on at an incredible pace due to my heart pounding at a rather punk rock rhythm, until finally I stopped shaky. About 15 minutes later – I caught up to Alicia.  The rattler did not appear to have been interested or awake when she passed!

We continued hiking through the heat of the day and arrived at the Fred Canyon campsite rather dispirited.  The campsite,while shady under the growing treeline, was also buggy and waterless. We had to press on – and did so to the Cibbets Flat Campground in the Cleveland National Forest.

We met up with Jeffrey – “Pine” as his trail name goes, and several more hikers there, Lorian and Eddie coming along after I was tucked into my tent.  Alicia, Pine and I decided before turning in that we would leave in the dark by headlamp the next morning to avoid the heat of the day as we would have more climbing to do than even we did today.

Miles: 13.2

Elevation gained/lost:  2193/-860ft

Day 2 – Hauser Creek to Lake Morena


April 17, 2016: Morning started eventfully – went to dig my first cathole and left my tent with my backup glasses on for the chore.  Found a nice secluded spot, dug and everything successful until my glasses fell off my face.  Now, to give you an idea of my distress, I am very, very blind and my glasses are black rimmed.   So, here I am, patting the twig, rock strewn ground trying desperately to find my glasses by touch.  And, not exactly the moment one wants to call out to fellow campers for help!  Just when I was about to give up and walk back to my tent, put contacts in, and walk to my potty site to continue the search, I found them!  Yeah!

It would have been better not to see the blisters on my feet though.  Looking at my blisters and the steep climb up Morena Butte ahead into Lake Morena, I decided a mere five mile day was in store for this novice hiker.

Hiked out of camp with Alicia and Lorian — Eddie trudged ahead of us all.  Lorian fell behind to take care of some of her own business, and Alicia and I limped ahead.  Both exhausted.  We made it to Lake Morena, set up camp, and immediately went to the Oak Shore Grocery and Deli down the road for a good greasy burger and some minor resupply, including marshmallows for the campfire that evening.  The folks at Oak Shore were amazing!  We love them.

Trail angels (people who supply random acts of kindness to hikers) brought beer and Eddie supplied more and we enjoyed a night of toasted marshmallows and beer after a nice warm shower!  Ah — life is good again!

Miles: 4.6

Elevation gained/lost: 1376/-619ft

Day 1 – Mexican Border to Hauser Creek

20160416_072649April 16, 2016:  All nerves getting up this morning and not much sleep because of the same last night.  We started the trail at around 7:30 am after the drive from San Diego and photos at the border.  I put on my pack and immediately fell straight on my bum — so embarrasing!  Water weighs a ridiculous amount and I know I packed way too much food.  Still, it was a beautiful morning!

Spring is here and the hills around San Diego are in full bloom.  Still, as this is the Pacific Crest Trail, we had some climbing to do and it was much harder than one could anticipate.  Wanted to make a solid 20 miles but exhaustion and blisters held my progress at around 15 to Hauser Creek.  Many many hikers in the trail today – only got a few moments of hiking solo.  But, during those few moments, while stopping to rest, five eagles flew above me playing in the wind, and two border patrol officers came by and chatted for a bit about the hike and how many of us hikers they had seen that day.

Camped with Katie and her family,Eddie and Lorian,and Alicia.  There were several other hikers camping gear near the Creek – all of us having started the day saying we would make it to Lake Morena – Ha! As one descended to Hauser Creek, one could see the next climb up the hill side toward Morena and just knew it couldn’t be done on such tired feet!  To bed now….

Miles: 15.36

Elevation gained/lost: 1442/-1789ft


Day 0 – April 15 in San Diego

April 15, 2016: Arrived at Scout’s and Frodo’s (no, their parents were not twisted – these are “trail names”) house in San Diego and about 20+ hikers and I were treated to snacks, the most amazing dinner (thank you chef Joker!) and a pep and preparation talk.  Scout was at a PCTA meeting but I was fortunate enough to meet Frodo — they are they most amazing trail angels and I really could not believe all they do for the hikers all season long.  Meeting people like this is just one of many reasons I wanted to hike the PCT.  Met the hikers I would start the trail with and many more that I would see along the way.  There are so many hikers coming from around the world to hike the PCT — I was picked up at the San Diego airport with two Aussies and one Swiss, and met more from Germany, UK, Ireland.  This will be a trip to remember in so many ways.

We are all nervous and will be having breakfast at 5 am tomorrow before even more volunteers pick us up to drive us to the Mexican border tomorrow at 6 am.  We weighed our packs and, with food and water for a 20 mile waterless stretch, my pack weighed a soul crushing 39 pounds!  I was not in the minority.  Still, cannot wait to be on the way!

Because We LOVE Them…


Because we love them, and hate to ever leave them behind, long distance hikers and their best friends suffer extreme separation anxiety. For most of us, we will be leaving our loving companions in the care or equally loving family and friends who will, no doubt watch over our furry friends for 5-6 months while we complete the PCT.

However, so many animals are just not as fortunate to find loving humans. Homelessness and neglect face many animals, and in too many cases outright abuse and cruelty. Please let my hike serve as a way to help animals in need and donate to the Humane Society of the United States. Go to to start donating today!!