I wake before my alarm. I guess going to sleep at 8 pm, being excited and my own subconscious knowing I had to get miles in before the heat of the day struck had caused me to wake early. I crawl out into the dim dawn-light and walk gingerly testing out my feet. My soles are tender but apart from that they feel fine. I stretch lightly and look around the aurora light. Everyone else is still asleep. Quietly as I can I decamp. I pack my inner tent away, stuff my sleeping bag into the compression sack, set some cous-cous soaking, brush my teeth and I'm away. Yesterdays damp socks hanging off my bag.
It's 6 am and the morning light is beginning to illuminate everything. It was nice to be solo hiking by myself. I felt rather independent and pleased to be venturing on my own. Having made it to America, to the Mexican border and now on the PCT steadily heading north.
The trail is sandy and thorny plants line it on both sides. I hear a rustling sound up ahead and see a small brown deer trotting through the undergrowth, my first one of the trail. It carefully paces through the greenery and heads away. The first 5 miles today were going to be pretty easy. Then I was to meet a gradual 2500 ft climb over 10 miles.
It's pretty quiet as I amble over the land and see a lone hiker in the distance. I make him jump by calling out "Hello". We chat for a bit and he offers me advice about the local drinking water. I haven't had to use my water purification yet - a steripen which take 90 seconds which sterilizes any bacteria in the water I collect from streams. I hike on and take a break to devour some dry fruits, the sweet cranberries my favourite.
I chill on the edge of the path and gaze out across the land. So I'm on day 2, only a 100 or so more days just like this one.
I make the 22 miles and get to Mount Laguna. It's a tiny place with a mountain supply shop, local shop, post office, commercial campsites and restaurant/Inn. I wander wearily into the restaurant were the staff are unloading a van of goods inside. I then find a weary Darby looking tired and red faced. She says she started hiking by 4:45 this morning as she couldn't sleep and that she was considering staying the night here.
"I know it's a bit early on the trail to get a bed" she said "but I'm beat"
I wander into the shop and find my first hiker box. It's brimming with stuff; toilet roll, tins, dry food, books, printed maps, socks, a brand new pair of hiking poles. I grab a tin of mini sausages and sign the hiker book - the various names inside sprawled all over the page. I then buy a banana, milk and an ice cream before zoning out on the wooden porch of the shop. The shop owner comes out and begin to chat with me between puffs of his cigarette. He asks me to repeat every second sentence. He then asks where I'm from.
"Ah, that explains it, I remember the Yorkshire ripper being on the news and we had to have subtitles to understand what you were all saying"
I hike on and leave the mini hamlet. The trail leads away and I enter a lovely forest. Massive pine cones surround me - some are as big as my face. The path is sandy and level and I easily hike the flat 3 miles before the ground begins to ascend. It's slow and gently strenuous at the end of my day. The wind then picks up and everywhere is soon being battered by the wind. I look around for a decent spot to camp but there is very little shelter. I head off the trail and climb a mini hill to seek peace on the other side. I find a spot - it's sheltered by bushes and it's not exactly flat but with the amount of padding in my sleeping bag I'll still sleep. I hope the wind dies down as I pitch my tent. Just the inner and unfurl my sleeping bag. I eat a few cereal bars and perch on a large boulder.
I can see a splendid landscape before me which turns out to be the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. It's covered in endless sand. The mountains have dark patches woven into them where the crevasses darken due to the setting sun. I sit and stare at them for a long time as I subconsciously rub my right knee which hurts a tad. I stretch it off and take it easy. I've hike 45 miles so far. I wish I could get a mobile signal but nothing. It's still light but I crawl into my sleeping bag and fasten down the hatches from the loose strands of wind that past over my secluded spot. Sadly this nights sleep isn't what I was hoping for...