PCT 2022 – Mile 4 Camp to Lake Morena County Park

This section of the PCT really tested us – it was hot, water was scarce, there was elevation gain and loss, and hikers around us were succumbing to heatstroke and dehydration. Thankfully we had just enough water to get us through this section.

Leaving from the campsite we found at mile 4.5, we appreciated the early start we got, managing to beat the heat for a little while. However, once the sun rose over the surrounding hills, it got hot quickly. We took our time as we climbed up the hills, then back down towards Hauser Canyon, where we spent the night. We set up camp fairly early in the afternoon, but were content to stay put, wanting to tackle the climb up and out of the canyon early the next day.

We would see the real Eagle Rock later, but I was surprised to see this mini-Eagle Rock about 10 miles into the trail.

In the morning we donned our headlamps, broke down camp, ate a quick breakfast and then headed up, up up. Halfway we met a hiker who had run out of water and was laying to the side of the trail. We didn’t have much water to spare, but we gave a cupful. Shortly after another hiker came to help him out – he didn’t have much water to spare himself, but he actually put on the struggling hikers pack and the two of them were able to make it to a water cache a few miles away. It became clear that the heat of the desert was absolutely no joke, and it was essential to carry plenty of water.

Once we crested the hill we began the slow, steady descent towards Lake Morena. It was in this stretch that we met Charcoal and Struggles, who we would continue to hike with off and on until Agua Dulce. As we approached Lake Morena, and subsequently made our way to the County Park to camp for the night, several hikers asked if we had seen the rattlesnake on the trail that was there just a few minutes ago. We didn’t – I think we walked right by it without seeing it! We definitely made sure after that to keep a close eye on the trail at all times.

It was great to be in an established campground in some ways – lots of water, restrooms, flat ground and shade trees. However, it was pretty loud and crowded – still, we were tired enough to get a good night’s sleep. Oh, we definitely made our way to the Malt Shop – twice! Once for breakfast and again for dinner – even though we had only been on the trail a few days, it really hit the spot.

PCT 2022 – Flight From Seattle To San Diego – Day 1

April 6, 2022 – the first day of our PCT journey north from the US / Mexico border, starting in Campo, CA. Standing at the monument alone felt like an accomplishment after weeks of preparing for the hike – picking up the last few pieces of gear, but mainly the food we needed to fill resupply boxes that would get us the first 700 miles, to Kennedy Meadows South.

Since my wife (Lynnette) and I are both vegetarian, and wanted to eat somewhat health, we prepared more boxes than most PCT hikers. We worked it out so we’d have a box every 4-7 days waiting for us, which worked out well, but more on that later. The prep putting the boxes together took longer than expected, but we had them ready to go by the time we boarded the plane in SeaTac.

The flight was smooth and short, only about 2 1/2 hours or so. Upon landing in San Diego the first thing that hit us was the heat – it was only April, but temps were in the low 80’s. We filled up our water bottles in the airport, transferred our “hazardous” stuff like hiking poles from our checked bag to our backpacks (which we carried on) and took the free shuttle to the Old Town Transit Center. At that point I realized I didn’t transfer my small Swiss army knife from the checked bag, but figured I could get another knife on the trail.

We waited about an hour at Old Town Transit Center, meeting other hikers there, before boarding the PCT Southern Terminus Shuttle to Campo. What a great service this is – they take you to REI first to get fuel, supplies, gear, food and anything else you might need, before taking you directly to the monument in Campo. They run twice a day – we took the afternoon shuttle, which got us there at about 4pm. After some photos with the monument, and some group photos, we were ready to start our journey north!

Our packs were FULL – we had more than enough food to get us to Lake Morena, and we had plenty of water – I think we had about 8 liters between the two of us. We didn’t realize at that point that there was a water source at a small stream just 4 miles from the border, but that would become standard practice for us – carrying too much water. We made it to the Mile 1 sign and took a picture, then shortly after I took a tumble and twisted my ankle. What?!?! Just one mile in and for a second I thought my hike was over! Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and although it did swell up a bit, I was still able to continue (although I did twist it again later that evening while getting water in the dark.

We kept a good pace heading out of Campo – since we got a late start our goal was a site about 4.5 miles from the border. We made it there just as the sun was setting – we quickly set up camp, got water and turned in for our first night on the PCT!