On August 22, 2014, I drove down to San Diego. After staying with my parents for a night, they drove me the US/Mexico border south of Campo, California. At the Pacific Crest Trail trailhead, I began hiking. Over the next 8 days, I hiked 138 miles (plus 4 miles hitchhiked from Ranchita, CA back to the trail) to Indian Flats Campground in the Cleveland National Forest north of Warner Springs, CA. The final day, a friend picked me up from the campground and drove me back home after a good cheeseburger and slice of Julian baked pie. On Sunday, August 31, I then walked to the Vista Transit Station, where I hopped onto the Sprinter to the Oceanside Transit Station. My parents had sailed their boat up to the Oceanside Harbor, where I stayed that night. On Labor Day, September 1, we then sailed the entire day back to San Diego, where I picked up my car and drove back home.
The experience was tremendously spiritual, transcending any words that could be used to describe it. During the course of this adventure, I laughed, cried, cursed, praised, lied awake all night out of pure fear, carried myself confidently through scorching heat, fell to the ground out of exhaustion, and danced out of complete energy. I experienced many selfless acts of kindness from strangers, including but far from limited to the unexpected, clean water left by trail angels, a 4 mile ride back to the trail from an unknown stranger, a random stranger giving me $6 at 2:30am one night that I had fallen asleep on the back bench in an open chapel, and much more. I also spent the greatest amount of time alone with nothing but my thoughts, God, and the open world around me.
My largest day of the hike was Day 6, which was a 29 mile day. I began early in the morning halfway up on the side of Granite Mountain, already in the desert. After crossing into the San Felipe Hills and the edge of the Anza Borrego Desert State Park, the majority of the hike that day was spent walking through a very large area that had been burned through by wildfires in the past few years. With absolutely no shade and being many miles from the nearest water source of any kind (the closest, many miles away, would even need treatment), I trekked through these miles during a heat at times over 110 degrees F. It made itself the most trying yet most memorable day of hiking I have had to date.
While on this hike, I found myself intermittently taking many pictures. Rather than detail this adventure and caption every picture as I have been in the habit of doing, I feel that the above is the most I can describe this particular adventure. I present the pictures below, leaving you to fill in the gaps.
Of note concerning the pictures:
At one point, the sensor on my camera actually began to malfunction. The resulting pictures are discolored from this time, before it “magically” began working normally again for the remainder of my hike. I ended up somewhat liking the effect, although it was entirely unintentional.
There are a number of pictures with unusual angles and perspectives. Call it whatever you would like. The pictures represent simply my view of this section of the Pacific Crest Trail.
The final picture is the GPS track from my hiking portion of the adventure imported into Google Earth, and the resulting image saved. This provides an overview of that portion of the hike.