campo to lake morena


pct mile 0 to mile 20

i stay with trail angels scout & frodo the night before i begin. josef is volunteering here for a month & seeing him is a huge comfort. over breakfast i say something about my life philosophy involving primarily doing dumb things… why did i say that? i mostly keep quiet after that, i get lost in my mind.

i hang back at the monument. josef finally urges me forward & says “look excited babe!”…. apparently this is my excited face?

a combination of nerves & the half cup of strong coffee i’d had at scout & frodo’s had my stomach feeling all kinds of ways so before i hit the trail i attempt my 1st cat hole. leave no trace ethics dictate that it should be at least six inches deep & toilet paper must be carried out. it isn’t until miles later that i remember w a pang that you’re supposed to stir the hole w a stick to encourage biodegrasion. i silently apologize to the tender desert ecosystem.

i walk through mikes of chaparral & yucca. everything is lush & green after the wet winter.

around 10:30 i sink gratefully into a shaded slab of granite overlooking the dips & climbs to come. turkey vultures dive & circle through the air. i devour a wasa cracker & babybel sandwich. the cheese has kind of melted into the wax but it is so so good. the way the boulders are arranged means that i can see people before they can me. i startle a few with my greetings before i decide to just let them pass.

a trail runner with sloshing water bottles strapped to his hands passes by, twice. “did you start today?” he asks. i laugh & say yeah. “you’re doing good” he says before he speeds away.

after a while i notice that someone had made a circle of rocks in the ground. strange, i think. i step back to inspect & notice that, no, the rocks spell 10. 10 miles. okay, then.

after a steep descent i come to hauser creek. 15 miles. okay. it’s only 3 in the afternoon & i feel alright so i rest for a while, clean my feet, before i look upwards towards the climb out of the canyon. i’ve heard awful things & it so does not disappoint. the ridges are so bakingly exposed & the switchbacks unrelenting. 

the last mile feels like an entire lifetime & i try to conjure the thought of anything that might cheer me up & give me something to walk towards. i settle on calling josef- even have it worked out. i will get into lake morena at six & i call him but the first thing i will say would be “i’m sorry i know it’s dinnertime!” i drag my poor listless body to the ranger station & pay for my hiker campsite & after i set up my little tarp i sit inside & call him. it takes me a full minute of waiting for it to begin to ring for me to realize that there is no service. how?! there had been service for most of the day but i have dutifully kept my phone in airplane mode. disappointed, i put myself to sleep before 8:30, exhausted.


6 thoughts on “campo to lake morena”

  1. Congratulations on your journey. I grew up in San Diego and spent time in my childhood visiting Campo and Lake Morena and I know they aren’t super close. My mom is also hiking the PCT and it’s remarkable. I am far too lazy to ever attempt hiking it. I loved hearing about your experience. Good luck on your journey!!!


  2. Wow California is so beautiful. I did a year of school in Los Angeles, I never really explored any canyons, but I always wanted to see it. I love your pictures, the land is rugged and unspoilt. I hope you are enjoying your journey?

    Liked by 1 person

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