PCT Day 1: Campo, Lake Morena, and beyond

April 22

Mile 0-32.0 (32.0)

Today we start the PCT. We wake up at Scout and Frodo’s rested and ready to start hiking. 5:30 breakfast, 6:00 cars depart for Campo. About an hour later, we are at the Mexican border, at the southern terminus of the PCT.

There is a monument here and we take our picture with it, then take a group picture. There are dozens of hikers here. I am eager to distance myself from the crowd, so  we are the first ones to shoulder our packs and start hiking–in the wrong direction. Reoriented, we start for real. It feels great to be hiking. Nothing to do but walk north, for miles and miles and miles.
We start at a fast clip, coffee and adrenaline propelling us. The trail feels like a highway. Smooth like butter. I am surprised at how quickly we are covering miles. We start seeing groups of hikers clustered in the cool shade just off the trail. We meet many hikers this way, only a few are hiking when we pass. It does not feel hot out, low 70s and breezy, but the sun is strong. Anyway, we are glad to have some space on the trail.

The trail rolls gently over some hills then drops to dry Hauser Creek and climbs back up. A few miles later, we are at Lake Morena. We have lunch at the campground with some hikers who started yesterday then shouldered our packs and continued hiking.

It’s flat for 3-4 miles then we return to the gentle rolling hills. We are getting tired from our long day and our muscles are jarred by the abrupt transition from car travel to foot travel. We stop for water, then for snacks. Eventually the sun starts to set and we find a campsite.

32 miles on day 1 sounds like a lot but it feels pretty good. It’s nice to hike all day and set up camp as the world grows dark and sleepy. I feel tired and happy. It is very nice to be back on the trail.

Animal report: 

1 rattlesnake, thought to be dead but just cold and sluggish

1 mama turkey and her baby turklettes

Many other snakes

Hundreds of scurrying lizards


2 thoughts on “PCT Day 1: Campo, Lake Morena, and beyond

  1. Hi there, my name is Koko. My friend and I are planning on hiking the PCT this September. We plan on doing it in sections. Only a week or two at a time due to our work schedules. I have a couple questions for you if you don’t mind? First how do you find your way to the starting spot from the San Diego airport if you don’t have anyone picking you up? And do you have any advice for complete beginners? Thanks for any help you can provide.

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