The 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail promises to be long, hard and scenic… but not every mile is the postcard beauty we all imagine. Sometimes, the trail is downright industrial and noisy from power lines, highways and trains. 

Even though we travel along the crest of the mountains on mostly public lands, these lands are also used by a lot of other recreationists (like off-road vehicles) which makes the area feel somewhat overused. There’s also a handful of miles where the PCT is routed along roads. 

I hiked some of this road to avoid snows along the ridge. In another part, the trail was actually closed to protect an endangered frog, so we hiked more of the road the next day too. 

But although this Southern California section is only a handful of miles from the Las Angeles basin, we still get to see some expansive wild views across this arid region.

When the big expansive views aren’t available, I try to make a practice of looking for the beauty in the small details along our journey. It’s helps me put one step in front of another. 

Just after crossing Highway 14, we entered into a Stare Park called Vasquez Rocks. This is a sedimentary moonscape along the San Andreas Fault which has been the backdrop for hundreds of tv shows and movies over the years including The Lone Ranger and Star Trek. 

At the north end of Angeles National Forest we were treated to two days of wandering through beautiful oak and deciduous forests and tall grassy meadows. This part was lovely! 

We’ve also crossed several burned out areas where young colorful bushes are flourishing.

 But watch out for Poodle Dog Bush- it has given many hikers an itchy rash!

And then, after weeks of wandering in this desert big and small, I crossed a very important milestone; 500 miles on the PCT. Yay Me!

But let’s get real for a minute. I post a lot of smiling and beautiful pictures which give you the sense I’m on a wonderful adventure, but in all the moments in between, this is really hard. My ankle still throbs, the heat is relentless, there’s minimal shade for days at a time, and after every down hill there’s another uphill to climb. it’s really hard to stay motivated.

Hikers have a name for this called “Type-Two Fun”. This means that you’re doing something that’s not very fun at the moment but hopefully you’ll remember it with rose-colored glasses. Frankly, I’ve been having Type-Two Fun for several weeks now. It’s all just that hard. 

In a moment of despondency, I asked for some inspiration from my Facebook friends and so many of you replied. Thank you for thinking of me as an inspiration. Thank you for sharing my story with others. I had cousins remind me how strong my family roots are and how proud my parents would be of me. I had former co-workers and neighbors remind me that I’ve been through so much more before, a high school teacher remind me of my “indomitably positive spirit”, and a college friend that reminded me that this is all “entirely within my abilities.”.

The day after I posted this plea, I reached a high ridge, opened my phone to this collective hug and outpourings of love. I sat down on a rock and cried and cried. It was the emotional release I needed. With newfound strength, I shouldered my pack, and headed out into the most barren dry stretch of desert I’ve seen yet. 14 miles to the next volunteer- stocked water cache. But this time so much stronger and lighter. 
Thank you for believing in me.