Pacific Crest Trail-Section A: Getting Hiking Legs and Busting Knees

Section A PCT 2017 Photo
I am humbled to be apart of this PCT 2017 Hikers photo!

Lake Morena to Cibbets Flats

Today was a kind of hard day again because my body is still recovering from yesterday. I woke up at Lake Morena and took my sweet time making sure to get my stretches and a solid meal in before hiking. At about 7 a.m. We took the PCT class of 2017 photo, pretty happy to be a part of such a great group of people. It’s important to document an incredible journey to look back on one day. 

I think I ended up leaving at about 9 a.m and arrived at camp around 4 p.m. I met up with a guy named Felix from Germany, he just graduated high school and hikes super fast. He’s tall so he takes like 1 step extra than I do each time. I feel like I have to move my feet super quick to keep up with his “regular” pace. He is a good motivation for me to walk faster, and good company. We pretty much hiked all day together. I met up with another fella name Brent. He actually headed out earlier than I but we were pretty much together the whole  day. Felix, Brent, and I separated at camping spots. Brent and I ended up hiking a little further to an actual campground while Felix stayed a couple of miles or so behind us.

When I first met Felix, the first thought that came to mind was a Nintendo game called Felix. The Cat I used to play. I told him he is basically a cat. Then I was like dude, you look like the tall skinny guy, Milo, from Disney’s Atlantis. Our adventures together involved soaking in a dope river, jumping a stream, meeting trail angels, and taking memorable photos. Pretty fun but tough day.

Some nice gentleman section hiking, let Brent and I hang out at their campsite which was great company and saved us a couple bucks. They’re pretty much all from San Diego. Their plan is sweet for section A of the PCT. I’m pretty much following them because I’m kind of winging the camping part. I just know I have a resupply package going to Warner Springs. Pretty typical Josh, going with the flow per usual. Oh yeah.

I tell you what though, the heat up in here is not messing around. The back of my calves got a nice big kiss from the desert sun. It wasn’t a good kiss, it burns. I popped an ibuprofen to help my inflammation a bit. Also, I had my turmeric mushroom chicken pasta mix for dinner that I made before I even started my journey. Holy crap though, that was a struggle to get down but I forced myself to eat it because I know my body needs it all. It tasted good, my appetite just wasn’t quite there. Homemade gluten-free dinners on the PCT, Oh yeah.

Section A Friend
A friend I made along the trail.

Cibbets Flats to Mt. Laguna

I woke up early at about 5 a.m. with Brent and rolled out. We walked through desert that turned into fresh pine forest before entering Mt. Laguna. We stopped at the Pine House Cafe for some much-needed fresh calories in the form of a frittata. It was the best thing I ate all day. All week actually. I hung out for a while longer and called the parents and the babe. Stretched a bit, checked out the outfitter which was super packed full of anything you’d ever need for the PCT.

I hiked out solo for another 6 miles to Mt. Laguna Campground. It was such a beautiful view with high winds floating across the cliffs. I ended up camping with Spencer (i.t. director), Tom (engineer), Deborah (safety specialist), Ken (not sure), and Steve (doctor), who are all section hikers. They kindly let me camp with them for free AGAIN. What a bunch of trail angels. While we were setting up camp, what appeared to be a wild Spunks, actually a bobcat emerged from the brush. Spunks is mine and Taylor’s 16 pound fluffy, ragdoll cat. Spencer’s buddies, who are of Mexican decent, were saying “here kitty kitty” 5 times fast. I specify Mexican, so you can picture their accents better. After cooking up some dinner and chatting I decided to stretch out and crash early. I found out I lost my dang ear plugs. But that’s okay, I was tired enough to crash without em’.

Section A Josh
Sometimes I get to sleep on grass. Sometimes.

Mt. Laguna Campground – Mile 68

This day was a high mile day for me. I woke up super early at 5 a.m. like a real #GoatGetter. Fog had rolled in to put some moisture on my tent. A real eerie kind of morning. I turned my bright headlamp on and packed up; trying not to wake the other hikers.

Off we go into the dark morning fog. A few miles later I noticed a sign for water. Yes! But no water was found or at least I just couldn’t find it. It made me stop to view the incredible sunrise though. It was very windy, very freaking windy actually. The wind just pushed the clouds and fog over the steep valley walls to dissipate into the morning lit air. The colorful sky would eliminate the surrounding cliffs with purples, oranges and yellows causing me to stop like every quarter-mile for a photo. Such incredible views out here!

The morning made this 21 mile day a breeze until the sun fully emerged into the peak of the sky. I took a break about 16 miles in and then another, and another and another. I took yet another break for about an hour before another big descent with JJ and Joker. JJ retired from the army in Germany and has done basically all hikes ever. Joker retired from the U.S. Air Force. He is a local, section hiking to Idyllwild. After chilling with them I headed out and took a shit in some dirt and continued up the giant hill.

My feet were definitely feeling bruised. I figured hiking in minimalist Lems shoes would work for me but these trails are no joke. I think these shoes were to thin for all the loose rock. I pushed through the pain, it was hard but I made it to Rodriguez road where I’d set up camp for the night.

Brent made it as well as the Kentucky foursome; Jared, Riley, Jill and Malory. I must have camped with about 10 people. A Web developer named Mike, a botanist named Anne and lady who’s a boss at ice climbing, hiking, played college ball and had many great life experiences. That’s what I want to be, a person who lived the way I wanted to live. Now I am going to bed and heading to Julian in the a.m. for an easy 9 mile day probably.

Section A Hiker Trash
Some hiker trash.

Mile 68 to Julian

This was such a great camp spot at Rodriguez Road. The area was fairly flat. When I woke up I got unzipped my vestibule to see what’s up outside. I saw the sunrise and thought, this is so crazy that I’m out here doing this, that I’m able to and willing to. Such a great sense of freedom and accomplishment. But I’m not feeling to accomplished until I finish. I’m learning that doing the whole trail in one go would be really dope however the experiences and people are more of an experience. If I do or don’t finish I’m sure I will feel fine, the trail is not going anywhere.

Any ways, I started packing my stuff to follow Brent, who left about 20 mins before me, down the mountain and into Julian. So many cacti, so many lizards, so many down hill. I never caught up to Brent but I did see him in Julian at Carmen’s. I continued down the hill covered in morning light, long shadows and sweat building up on my back from the heavy pack. Every step was daunting on my knees which is when I knew for sure a Nero was in store today and tomorrow. I stopped every so often to give my knees and feet a rest.

Finally I made it to the last 2 flat miles. Thank god. I wish the whole trail was like this. I called the Julian Lodge to make sure and get a room for the night on my way to hitch hike into Julian. When I got to the road, Paul aka Free Bird aka Orange Lighting caught up to me and figured out a plan to hitch hike.

By the way Orange Lighting is the fastest hiker I have ever seen. He passed me and I tried copying his quick dance like stride. Nope. Not doing that. It felt like I was a mall walker on steroids. Too fast for me, he is incredible and 55 years old. He said his training is basically his work. He changes light bulbs so he walks about 10 miles a day. Then after work when he gets home does another 5 with 3000 feet of elevation gain 2 times. Such a freak, but I mean that in the best way possible.

When we got to the bridge we found a couple of trail angels and a large water cache. They offered us rides and we gladly excepted so I didn’t even have to hitchhike. I was greeted by Ed, Deborah and Brew Hiker. Brew Hiker gave Free Bird and I a ride to Carmen’s. She let hikers do laundry, have burritos and sleep in her business. So incredible! This community of hikers and trails angels reminds me of the parkour community. So tight and family like.

Orange Lighting bought a couple burritos but could only eat one so I gladly excepted the other and ate the innards since I can’t eat gluten. Sooo good! Best breakfast burrito ever. After I ate, I washed my undies and socks. While I waited, I paid a visit to Momma’s for some ice cream and fresh home pressed apple cider with Dan who is from England. The ice cream and apple cider by the way is on the house for thru hikers! Best ice cream and cider ever. Definitely make a stop there if you’re in town or hiking.

After that I grabbed my laundry checked into the hotel room, stretched, ice bathed, hot bathed, and took a nice shower followed by gourmet stretching.

Little did I know, I’d be hitting this place for 4 more days. Basically doing this all day: wake up, eat, stretch, roll out, rehab my self, ice bath, eat, research my pain and how to get better, rinse and repeat. This all got me back on the trail. Thank God. I couldn’t have done without the Facebook PCT Class of 2017 family, Sister-in-law, Erin and all your support and advice. I nearly flew back home to quit.

I had to let these bad boys rest for awhile before hiking again. Plus new shoes altogether.

A week off in Julian

Today I knew I needed to take a zero to let my knees heal or else I won’t be finishing this hike indefinitely. I was I could get back on the trail but gotta do what whatcha gotta do.

I woke up at 5 am I’m the Julian Lodge and started stretching, drinking water and had a nice snack from Exo Bar which is a cricket flour bar. Actually REALLY good.

My spirits are down and I feel like quitting. I just because my knee. I post on the PCT Class of 2017 Facebook page just saying my knee sucks, I’m flying home and I’d like to find some people I had been hiking with. Well I got an incredible response from everyone. People giving me exercises to do, stretches, advice and motivational stories to help me continue on the trail and wall to Canada. I couldn’t believe the response, it was seriously so awesome. It got my spirits up and motivated me to keep trying.

So the next day I immediately start the routine Chris Moore recommended which included mostly glute activation workouts. I also did Ido Portal’s squat routine. I did these about 2-3 times a day. Here is my routine if you’re also in a rut and need some help:

  • Wake up. Drink water, play on phone for a few minutes
  • Take shower, take hot bath, then take a cold bath
  • Begin workouts: leg raises, clam shells, squat routine, bending over, straightening my leg, leg lifts
  • Roll out and stretch
  • Eat breakfast at 7:30 am
  • Ice knees and/or take ice bath
  • Repeat workouts and icing
  • Eat breakfast again at 9:30am
  • Repeat all this every couple of hours.

And that was life for 5 days. I ended up staying at the lodge in Julian for 2 nights then trail angel Ed gave me a ride to Warner Springs for a night. We ended picking up another crippled PCT hiker up at Barrel Springs. ED just wanted to stop there to see if anyone needed a ride. A guy from France named Martin who had a sprained ankle swelled up the size of a balloon just happened to be there. He was probably thrilled!

After I played around in Warner Springs for a day and a half I went back to Julian again for another 2 nights. A trail angel named “Fruit Bowl” and her daughter “Beer and Tacos” gave me a ride back to Julian, thankfully. I got lucky I didn’t have to hitchhike.

So I am back in Julian just sitting on my phone on the PCT Trail Angels group and found a woman named Amy, who injured her Achilles and is trying to get to the Mount Laguna Outfitter. I was like well shoot, I should see if I can roll with her so I can grab some thicker kicks. That worked out, I picked up some cushy Altra Lone Peak 2.5’s at the Laguna Mountain Sports & Supply

Amy and I hitch hiked back with a nice guy named Steven. Yeah, another Steven who is from New York. Ends up, he owns an organic taco shop called Mr. Manitas Taco Bar and Fruteria, 4 miles outside of Julian. Amy got off in Julian but I went to the taco shop with Steven. It was the best burrito bowl I’ve ever had.

I hope to get back on the trail on Monday afternoon now that I got some new kicks. Wish me luck.

Section A Josh 2
Desert for days!

Scissors Crossing to mile 88

Lets start this off with a sketchy hitch hike experience. Dude had 3 fingers, a black glove and was drunk. “I getchu down there.” 132 times I swear, while staring at me and shaking my hand with his immensely strong 3 fingered hand every time he said that. Thankful for the ride but could not be any happier to get out of that truck. He did have a good motivational speech though, I’ll give him that.

He explained how much my mom loved me and I better dig deep. “You wanna quit, fuck that, mother fucker you dig deep.. aye..aye..*stairs*..your mom loves you..your dad? He loves you but your mom.. aya..aye..*shakes my hand’re a man  so you better dig deep and think of your mom while you out there..” etc. You get the point.

I met Estophonia, from Madrid, Spain, at the bridge before hiking out and we chatted for a second while we filled up on water. We’d be hiking out into the middle of the day, peak heat up a giant climb. We said, well, let’s hit it I guess, and off we went. I was ready to test my new up hill form to get “a cute booty” as one of the videos explaining how to hike uphill said.

Shortly after starting we ran into a sweet woman named Deb. She gave me and Estophonia some snacks graciously. She even had gluten-free ones! This was much, much-needed.

After another while we took a break in the rare shade spot we found. Another hiker, Dusty aka Thunder Calves, as his wife Vicky called him, were seeking out some shade too. We gladly left and let them cool off a bit too. We kept sharing shade spots all the way up the hill until we camped at the “Windy AF” Camp spot on the ridge. I also got to pet a horny toad little lizard some how. So that was neat. I’m surprised that it didn’t squirt me with blood from its eyes. Thank goodness! 

Did my nightly chores:

  • Set up camp
  • Cooked my dinner
  • Enjoyed the views
  • Went to bed.

I was hoping it would not be a windy AF night. I saved part of my dinner for breakfast, the hot day must have made me lose my appetite. Also, I ran out of water, so that’s neat. My days are pretty sporadic as you can tell. But it’s all about the journey. 

Section A Exo Bar
I took Exo Cricket Bars with me. Actually pretty tasty.

Barrel Springs-Warner Springs

This morning, another hiker from Australia rolled in just in time for breakfast.

On the menu:

  • Smoothie,
  • Omelette,
  • Bacon,
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Orange Juice.

Soooo much awesome! I gathered my stuff and rolled out while I had the calories and hydration.

Oh, I should probably mention, I got all this from staying at The Mountain Valley Retreat last night.

Again, basically just focused on getting to Warner springs where I had a resupply box waiting there along with more water, food, hikers and a foot bath. I enjoyed all of that until about 6 p.m. when I decided I’d hike a few more miles for the night. I like to hike a couple extra miles when I’m feeling good so the next day will be a breeze! 

A mile done today is a mile I don’t have to do tomorrow.

About a mile in I met a nice crew of people who were playing on a tire swing, I opted in, twisted myself up and let it rip (not that type of “rip” you were thinking about, a fart). It was so dope, just like when I was a kid. We all hiked into the night. This is the first night I decided to cow-boy camp. I was nervous some weird creatures would crawl on me. I had a party with about 3 black fuzzy caterpillars. I didn’t mind oddly enough. One crawled on my ankle and I looked down and was like “WHOA!” Numbers (another hiker trash) was like, “dude it’s fine.” I thought, “you’re right, but how did I not feel that?” Numbers showed us his crib; 2 person Mountain Glow by Big Agnes along with his other luxury hotels while another guy was trying to pick off a pair needle or something off someone’s tongue. Interesting night for sure. 

Well that’s a tid bit of how my days are spent. Completely random every single day but that’s cool. Makes for pretty sweet memories. Thanks for all your support and good vibes for me as I hike through the PCT. I appreciate all of you guys! I cannot wait to come home to share even more stories with you all.

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