This past July, I set out on a solo trek along a 150 mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail. I started at the Bridge of the Gods around 5pm after a fun overnight trek on Eagle Creek with some pals and hiked up to Table Mountain where I managed to rest my throbbing calves and spasming hamstrings from the Eagle Creek hike. I found a small shelter that a previous hiker had built and tiredly set down my gear inside it. I was desperate for water, and half-stumbled, half-fell down a steep incline to a tiny ice-cold creek of meltwater where I filtered my water and bathed like an animal in ten inches of water. The lush foliage around me and the hastening darkness made me feel the eyes of hundreds of forest beings staring at my stark body contrasted in the dim light.
After a night of tossing and turning and wakening at the sound of every single nocturnal noise, I woke up to discover a small hole in my pack from the tiny teeth of forest mice eager to eat the loose peanuts and cashews that had spilled out from a ripped ziplock bag. Rookie mistake. I gathered my gear up, and with the early sunrise began my lonely trek along Section H. Several miles in, I boiled a litre of water and ate a substantial breakfast of instant oatmeal (Winco brand, peaches and cream) and crushed up Pop-tarts mixed with hot water that equated a simple caloric blueberry flavored mushy goo. It was hot and tasty in the cool morning air. I refilled my water bottles for a 12 mile section that, according to my map, had no water sources. I said a quick prayer that I wouldn’t run out of water, and screwed on the lids of my bottles.
Adventure awaited me and I knew it. I spent that leg whistling random tunes and nervously clutching my can of bear spray. The mind plays weird tricks on a person when they are by themselves in an immense forest.
After passing through that deserted stretch of trail that ranged from dark green ferns and damp soil to ridges that overlooked distant mountains as the noonday sun scorched my skin and flies buzzed around, to desolate pine groves with dried needles crunching underfoot and the skittering of small beetles running across the path, I eventually arrived at my destination for the day.
Late afternoon sunlight poured through the old growth canopies onto the forest floor, where a sparkling clear creek and a smooth campsite resided and I proceeded to set out my gear. I washed off the day’s sweat in the cool water and caught several small trout on homemade flies.
Shortly after exploring my immediate surroundings, I set up my Jetboil and heard a small voice out of nowhere that startled me…
End of Part I. Continue to Part II.