(Updates from Golden Girl Granola baker Brian Miglorino’s adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail)
My feet have been saved! Since my last post, I’ve gotten new shoes, which very surprisingly are a full size larger. I went from a 10.5 to an 11.5! It’s insane how much of an impact swelling can have on your body. The difference is almost night and day. I no longer dread taking each subsequent step and the quality of my day to day hiking has increased exponentially. I have some residual blisters on my toes, which tend to be a perpetual issue. Pains in your body tend to come and go. Some days my hip hurts, other days one of my knees will feel inflamed and sore, sometimes it’s an ankle. The good news is that these pains tend not to persist. I’d be very surprised if I wasn’t feeling random pain throughout my body. There’s certainly a long “break-in period” that your body is subjected to. The pains don’t typically go away completely, but they become more manageable and less frequent over time. It’s all part of the journey.
This last stretch of trail has shown the immense volatility of the desert. The fluctuation between low elevation and high elevation desert proves to make a huge difference. Low elevation tends to be the typical dry, sandy, Prickly Pear/Yucca filled landscapes. Conversely, the high desert is much cooler and sometimes reveals forested areas! I’ve hiked through pine forest filled with a lot of Ponderosa Pine trees, which have a distinctive butterscotch scent. I’ve even had to hike through snow in some of these stretches! This was very unexpected, but a nice change of pace from the typical desert.
Strangely enough, water isn’t as ubiquitously available as one would think even in the high desert. These stretches of trail have meandered through long, arduous 20+ mile sections of trail that offer no water sources at all. Having to conserve water is never a comfortable or settling task, but again, it’s all part of the journey and certainly isn’t an unexpected hardship. Up ahead I’ve been hearing rumors of a 40+ mile waterless stretch. It’s certainly an intimidating prospect, but it’s necessary to always be prepared for the worst case scenario.
Hitch-hiking has become commonplace again for me. On the Appalachian Trail, it became a normal every day part of life. In embarking on these trails, one really doesn’t have much of a choice in the matter. If you want food, you’re forced to stick your thumb out and rely on strangers to bring you to town to the closest grocery store. My last town visit to Big Bear Lake proved to be a fairly difficult hitch to get back to the trail. It took me a good 45 minutes to get someone to not stare at me like I had 10 heads and stop to give me a ride back to the trail crossing. Some towns are used to hikers coming through every year, and some tend to be notoriously more difficult.
I’m currently taking a much needed day off in the town of Wrightwood, CA. I’ve still been hiking off and on with my English friend Kenny. I’ve spent the last 4 or 5 days hiking and camping alone, but somehow things tend to work out and you end up catching back up with friends you meet out here. Him and I are splitting a small cabin and resting our sore feet, preparing for the next 110 mile stretch to the next food source (town).
Thanks for reading and following along!