At mile 655 the trail crosses a highway. Food wise, I was good until the next town but the idea of hitching in for a burger was irresistible. So my buddy and I put out our thumbs and waited. After about thirty minutes a truck pulled over and we hopped in. Inside was a couple from San Francisco. After talking a little bit, they offered us a place to stay in town at their campsite and we accepted. Once in town, they paid for our dinner and introduced us to everyone else in their group. Their group was different from your average campers. They are white water rafters and the campsite was right on the Kern river. Our new friends invited us to go rafting with them and of course we accepted again. The next day we got our wet suits and life jackets and about fifteen of us loaded into a van pulling a trailer with three rafts. We drove up the river and after getting situated, pushed off down some class 3 rapids. For these experienced rafters it was no big deal but for me it was unlike anything I had ever done. Working as a team, we navigated down the river and eventually back to the campsite. When I started the PCT I never thought I would go white water rafting but when you are open to try new things, opportunities will arise. -Noel Nelson (pct mile 658)
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.
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