The adventure has begun! I'm about 200 miles deep into the Pacific Crest Trail, fresh off my first "nero" day in a charming little town whose mayor is a golden retriever. I've traversed the first section of snow, and much more is in the future!
Reunion Tour 2023
This spring was a whirlwind. After moving out of my apartment, I criss-crossed the country, visiting family along the way, both nuclear and extended. I did about 60 miles on the Appalachian Trail with my pal Blue Moon, and then about 300 miles on the Arizona Trail, also with Blue Moon. Along the way, we battled back-and-forth in a 21-game set of Rummy, which was only decided by a lucky deal of three aces in the very last hand. Like my 2019 hike, 2023 featured a super-bloom of legendary proportions in the Arizona desert.
A Strong Start
By time I got on the Pacific Crest Trail then, I had a few miles on my legs. Over and over again, I've found that starting a trail already in hiking shape drastically improves the experience for the first few weeks. And so it was this time. The PCT is graded for horse traffic, and its tread is impeccable. From the very beginning, I found myself doing 20-mile days entirely by accident. The foot certainly appreciates the kind hiking experience!
While the PCT is certainly crowded at this time of year, I've been surprised by how much solitude I've been able to find. I've camped alone almost every night so far (by choice), and I don't see too many folks while hiking. Of course, when I get to town, everyone comes out of the woodwork.
In case you've missed it, the West has a lot of snow. Virtually every monitoring station in the Sierra Nevada is at record levels, and in most cases, the silver medalist isn't even close. The snow has even buried much of the high terrain in the so-called 'desert' Southern California section, leading to ridiculous scenes of hikers carrying ice axes past prickly pear cactuses in ninety degree heat. But such is 2023, a certifiably bonkers year.
The PCT in a high snow year is a significant challenge, and 'high snow year' doesn't even begin to describe just how crazy this year is. So before you ask: no, I don't know what I'm going to do when I get to the Sierra yet. The creeks will almost certainly be swollen and possibly hazardous to cross. The immense snows have damaged a key bridge over a river with no easy bypass available. In short, the prospect of hiking through the Sierra in June looks gnarly at best and impossible at worst.
So what am I planning to do? I don't know, to be honest. I'm not worrying about it quite yet. I've got 500 miles of Southern California left before I get there, and I plan on enjoying it thoroughly. Once I get to the southern gateway to the Sierra, I'll figure out the next step. All options are on the table.