Jennifer Whitcomb: PCT Thru-Hiker

Week 1 on the Pacific Crest Trail

May 18, 2000: Warner Springs, California

Something is missing. I think it's water and cloud cover. Yes, that exactly. Ouch. Oh wait hold on . . . Colin says add to that Starbucks, Frasier, and valet service. Life is so hard on the trail. Luckily, he did remember the curiously strong mints and the toenail clippers.

As one who's used to the Appalachian Trail, I've been having a delicious love-hate relationship with the PCT (dubbed the “Pampered Children's Traverse” by my good friend and perennial AT hiker Baltimore Jack) thus far. On one hand, the dry heat is a challenge without feeling too threatening, the scrub brush allows for good visibility in moonlit night hiking, and the spastic startled lizards put on a good show. What gets me is the trail itself. Its lazy, inarticulate personality. The thing is so graded that grannies can travel it in wheelchairs. I have yet to have my butt kicked from sheer exertion; the real demon out here is the slooooow progress.

The registers at trailheads and in the post offices show a large bunch of hikers between two days to two weeks ahead of us, but we have yet to see anyone. Colin and I are beginning to suspect they may be an elaborate hoax, along with all the illegal immigrants that supposedly lurk in the mountains near Mexico. All we've seen so far is a bunch of discarded clothing and a couple forbidding “Cuidado” signs with caricatures of deadly rattlers and vicious coyotes. La dee dah . . . looks like they only attack people who speak Spanish.

We managed to finagle some passes to the hot springs here in town. Gonna go test out those healing powers . . .

Till the next little town . . .

Pacific Crest Trail
What is she carrying? Check out Jen's gear list.

Jen's Story: Three quick years have passed since this PCT thru-hike elbowed out grad school and a career jumpstart to claim the months following college graduation. Not easy news for my parents, who in 1997 weathered my dropping out of college for six months to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. I know they're now thinking "sh**, here we go again."

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 7 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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