Amigo’s hike on the PCT – Desert Nostalgia

Exactly fifteen years ago, I began my favorite travel adventure. Feeling nostalgic, I wanted to scan a few photos and share them with you.

With a bit of training and a backpack carrying everything I needed, I reached through a small gap in that massive steel fence that separates our country from theirs and touched Mexico with all four of my limbs. At the southern most terminus of a foot-wide path that goes all the way to Canada, I started north on the Pacific Crest Trail. In my first few steps, I met plenty of the stuff you’d imagine. There were rattlesnakes, cacti that grabbed shoelaces, and even illegal immigrants that found the trail to be a easy dash north. Sun, dust, blisters, and more cacti that grabbed socks lead to some pretty steep hills and unturned corners.

While I wished I could “thru-hike” the entire 2650 mile trail, my goal was to hike 1700 miles to the border of Oregon where I wanted to cover the entire state of California on foot before I returned to college, and the adventures that unfolded I hope to share in the next few months as I go back and digitize these images.

That’s Mexico dust on my foot, and this is my first photograph on the Pacific Crest Trail. Life for the next 4 months would go on by foot, at 2.8 to 3.1 miles per hour.Thanks to Monte Dodge for the photo.

Hiking in the desert was determined by heat, and the distances between water sources.

Views from a trail that hugs the spine of California are pretty grand. Sunsets are even better.

I quickly learned to lighten my load, and traded out my gas stove for this one made out of a few soda cans. I took to the “ultralight” method immediately and shed lots of gear from my pack. Bye bye to my walkman, jacket, flashlight, the unused half of my toothbrush and all labels on clothes. How to be more efficient was the name of the game.

I think this reads:

“Caution. Don’t expose your life to these elements. It’s not worth it.”

The trail was just beyond that sign.

I enjoyed the days in the desert, hiking toward my goal. Plenty didn’t, and most of the several hundred who started begin to disappear within the first 200 miles. The injuries or immensity of the journey overwhelmed them.

Hiking 15-20 miles each day took its toll on me in a weird way. It gave me hiccups for three days straight. On the fourth day, a box of sugar and an emergency room visit scared me straight, but above, a fellow hiker tries yet another remedy to cure my everlasting hiccups. This was by far the most difficult part of the trail for me.

Here I am at the 300 mile marker. Proof to some disbelievers close to me that thought I “couldn’t make it 300 miles”.