There is a 40 mile stretch of the PCT known for being the hottest and driest part of the whole trail. This section follows the aquaduct the brings water to LA but despite this fact water on the trail is almost nonexistent. Additionally shade is just as rare. As the trail follows the metal pipe it is almost discouraging to look up and see the miles and miles you will have to walk. Unlike the rest of the trail, this part is so flat that you can see the entire never ending section. This makes a 40 mile stretch seem like 400 miles.
After walking for hours in the blazing sun, we decided it was time to set up camp. It wasn’t until the sun started its retreat from the sky that I realized the beauty of the desert. The sky turned from blue to a deep reddish purple and then to black in a matter of minutes. I thought the best part was over but then the stars came out. Without any light pollution I felt like I could see every star in the galaxy. As I laid down to sleep I could hear the distant cry of coyotes. The day started out rough but in the end I was amazed at how beautiful this place is.
Warner Springs is a small town at mile 109. The community center there welcomes thru-hiker every year with food and let’s them camp out on their lawn. From there it is about 70 miles to a small town called Idlewild. During this 70 mile stretch I was able to hike with two guys from Israel. Both men had just gotten out of their required service in the armed forces and were on their celebratory vacation. By talking to them I was able to learn a lot about what it is like to live in Israel and a lot about the struggles they face as a country. A very interesting aspect of the trail is the diversity of people.
It is rare you feel like a minority in your own country but on the trail that seems to be the case. There are tons of people from Germany, Italy, Israel, Canada, and all over Europe. Talking to all the people has really given me insight into worlds I’ve never known about. After eating one of the best burgers of my life at Paradise Valley Cafe, I split up with them and headed back to the trail to hike the last 12 miles before the trail closes for a small section due to fire damage. Most people skip this 12 mile stretch in addition to the closer and hitch directly to Idlewild, but I figure I have the time so I chose to do it.
After the trail closed I took a side trail that led me all the way to Idlewild. In this small town I found a hostel type place that gives you a bunk and shower for $25 so I figured I’d sleep in a bed for a change. Tomorrow I will climb the San Jacinto Mt. My biggest test thus far. -Noel Nelson
After camping in “the Boulders”, a beautiful campsite on top of a peak, the trail slowly descended 3,000 into a hot, dry desert floor. The long walk seemed to never end and water was nowhere to be found. After almost running out, I finally reached highway 78 and I was able to do my first hitch. In about 5 minutes of sticking my thumb out a girl stopped to pick up my new hiking partner Will and me. We were driven into the town of Julian and punished a burger. After taking a shower at an RV park it was back on the trail, covering a 10 mile dry stretch during sunset. Tomorrow I will pass mile 100. Even though I’ve only been out here a few days, it feels like months (in a good way). -Noel Nelson