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Days 5-7 // desert beauty

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

Day 5 // 14.5 miles

PCT mile 56.0

Woke up at 4 this morning to get an early start. I was glad I got a motel room with another girl, Jenni, since the wind was so crazy last night. I didn't sleep the greatest though - I don't have town clothes for laundry, and since we had to hand wash everything, I slept in my rain jacket and a makeshift kilt of my puffy and windshirt tied around my waist. We turned the heater up high to try and dry the clothes, but that meant that I woke up sweating profusely. Super glamorous hiker life, ya'll.

After we had everything all packed up, Jenni realized she couldn't find the room key. So we dumped everything out of our packs again to check for it, only to discover that she had left it in the lock all night! Thankfully no one murdered us. After the relief of finding it, we backtracked through town to the trail so that we didn't miss any miles. Jenni and Tony have a similar pace, so they hiked together while I went on ahead.

Despite the rough start, the sunrise was beautiful and I enjoyed the piney stretch of trail out of Mount Laguna so much. It was a chillier morning, so I threw on the windshirt too.

Things that run through my mind when hiking alone:

This is beautiful

I want pizza

What a cool tree

Scripture/talking with God

My family

Owww, my feet

Whoa, I need a photo of this

My friends back home

What can I take out of this dang pack to make it lighter

Can I take a snack break yet?

* The hilllls are aliveeeee with the sound of muuuuusicc *

Soon, I crested a hill and saw the most incredible view before me. Mountains as far as the eye could see, and the desert floor below.

Pat caught up to me when I paused for a break, and later we saw our first views of San Jacinto Peak! And a bit after that, we passed the 50 mile mark!

We had lunch together at a cute picnic spot and decided to cook our meals since there was water available. More Knorr pasta sides for me. Still not sick of them yet.

After a little rest in the shade, I threw out my trash and talked a little with a German lady named Martina before getting a few more miles in.

The wind and lower temps made it bearable to hike in the afternoon, and the desert mountain views we're unbelievable today!

My feet were beginning to ache more and more as I approached the spot I was hoping to camp. Zoned out a bit, I ended up going right past it and had to hike back, since the next camp spot wasn't for another 4 miles. But I found a nice little spot amongst some rocks to cowboy camp (sleep under the stars). I've heard that works better in windier areas. Hoping I stay nice and toasty in my quilt!

Day 6 // 15.1 miles

PCT mile 71.1

I woke up around 1:30am to a sky full of stars. What an amazing sight! I tried to take a couple star photos with my camera, but I need a little more practice.

I rolled back over and slept a few more hours, hearing a few other hikers up before me. Finally I pulled myself from my warm quilt and started getting ready and packing up. I was a bit disorganized from the cowboy camping, but it was super nice to not have to take down a tent.

I downed a package of poptarts, packed my things, and hit the trail.

The first few miles went fast, and though I passed a stream, I decided to wait and get water further up at the Sunrise trailhead so I could use a real bathroom. I wasn't that excited about having to walk a mile off trail, but it was worth it when I met a former thru-hiker hanging out there to give snacks and water to hikers! I got a Mountain Dew and a banana courtesy of Jay - thanks Jay!

Continuing on, I praised my Creator for the beautiful mountain landscape before me. My steps turned into "thank you's", realizing what a gift every moment out here is. I'm not promised safety, or a hike without injury, or that I'll make it to Canada - but I know that God is faithful and that I want to appreciate all of this for as long as I get to experience it.

The day grew hotter and I bumped into a lady named Mary. She showed me how to rig up a sun umbrella to your pack so you can use it hands-free.

The trail turned to steep downhills, and my feet began to hurt from the pressure. I stopped for a snack break, and my friend Alli came up behind me. We camped together the first night and have been keeping pace pretty well together. She is from Minnesota and is around my age too. We talked and hiked a bit and realized we both had watched a lot of the same backpacking vloggers on YouTube, like Darwin on the Trail and Homemade Wanderlust.

My feet continued to throb, so I had to take another break for some relief. I was getting pretty worn out, and honestly feeling discouraged at how slow I was going. I was hoping to get to the next water source 3.5 miles ahead before having lunch, but I realized I needed to just sit for awhile and eat something. So I whipped out a snickers and began to feel better.

The trail wound through the desert mountains with new vistas around every bend. I tried to keep myself from stopping every two seconds for a picture. Out of nowhere, yellow-orange patches of poppies appeared. The superbloom!

Around the corner was the water tank, where I took a longer break and chatted with Pippi Longstockings, Martina, and a few other hikers I didn't know. Pippi is a grey haired woman with braids who hiked all of Oregon on the PCT a few years ago after losing her daughter. She's hoping to tackle the desert section if the PCT this year.

Another hiker I met is Lady Bling, a nurse in her 30s who has hiked the Appalachian Trail (AT). Her cap was bedazzled with rhinestones, so it wasn't too hard to figure out why she got her trail name. I also met "Trap Set", another AT hiker.

After eating and resting, I was ready to go again. We had some cloud cover, so I was okay with setting off sooner. The trail skirted the very edge of the mountains as it descended, like a beautiful ribbon that was taking us toward good food and showers.

Finally, I found a spot to cowboy camp with a mountain view. Ramen for dinner definitely tastes better when you have a nice view.

Day 7 // 5.9 miles

PCT mile 77.0

I awoke to the mountain sunrise (after ignoring my alarm) and was happy with my decision to cowboy camp again. What a beautiful view! But the blowing wind made me want to stay under my quilt forever. I thought of town and the free pie waiting for me at "Mom's" and started my day.

Hiking life is so simple... I just basically have to think one step at a time about how to meet my next basic need. Water, food, sleep, laundry, shower, repeat. And the laundry and shower part is a bit more optional.

I started the descent into Julian, weaving amongst the pretty white boulders and eventually hitting the flat desert floor. I hiked almost 6 miles in record time, but felt the nerves rise knowing I needed to hitch a ride to Julian since it's 13 miles off the trail.

I approached the road slowly and saw a blue van waiting by the trailhead, and a guy with a long beard standing next to it, talking to a hiker in the van. I had already pulled out my pepper spray just to be safe.

When he spotted me, he said, "Need a ride to Julian?" I said yes, and he introduced himself as "Ghost," a trail angel who often gives rides. "Trap Set" was already in the van and greeted me. I asked if I could take a photo of his license plate and he happily obliged. I had heard that Julian was a very hiker friendly town and that people would often hang out by the trail to offer rides, so none of this seemed weird to me.

After getting in, we spotted more hikers and filled the van quickly. Ghost chatted with us about Julian and how he's given hikers rides for years. After about a 15 minute drive, he pointed out some of the places in town we'd need and then dropped us near downtown. We clambered out and grabbed our packs.

I headed for Mom's, the famous pie shop that gives PCT hikers free pie, ice cream, and a drink for showing their permit. But on the way, I spotted Alli again! I asked if she had plans to stay in Julian, and she invited me to share her Airbnb with her! I had been hoping to find a nice affordable spot to stay, and this worked out perfectly. With a bit of time to burn, I started my errands - beginning with some free apple-boysenberry crumble with ice cream.

Town is like a mini reunion, because on trail, sometimes someone might be a mile behind me, but if we're both moving at the same pace, I don't see them for days.

Resupplying at the Julian Market, I bumped into Joy and Hawkins, Lady Bling, and Bina. Trap Set and I walked to the Post Office, where I mailed home a few things I didn't need, and then I stopped at the library to use the WiFi. There I bumped into so many friends! Anna, Marlin, Ben (now Obi-Wan) and Snickers! So fun.

Then I headed back downtown to Mom's where I got to meet a instagram-famous hiker named Twerk. He is an amazing photographer who hiked the trail last year and did a series called "Hiker Trash Vogue", where he makes dirty hikers look like they're part of a high fashion photo spread.

Alli had texted me that our Airbnb host was willing to pick us up downtown so we wouldn't have to walk an extra mile - YESSSS. Our host Glen was so thoughtful, and he and his wife even did our laundry for us!

(They had to wash it twice...hahaha.) We showered and organized our stuff, and too lazy to walk back to town, we decided to just eat our extra leftover food from this stretch in the comfort of our room. There will still be pizza in town tomorrow!

We belly laughed about our pants getting stuck on us once our muscles get too big, and settled in for the night.

410 views4 comments


Stephanie Seitz
Stephanie Seitz
Apr 17, 2019

Thank you so much for all the kind comments and replies you guys! It has been such a cool journey so far, but definitely full of ups and downs too!


Laura Merchant
Laura Merchant
Apr 16, 2019

This whole adventure sounds so FUN. I admit I was skeptical about it all, but you're meeting sooo many people and I love the "not so random" encounters you are having. Thank you so much for sharing these fantastic updates. <3


TodandEllen Stillson
TodandEllen Stillson
Apr 14, 2019

Loving your blog, and praying God's continued providential relationships, supporters, fellow hikers, and suppliers of good rest and food.


Gloria Seitz
Apr 13, 2019

I love reading about all of the interesting people you are meeting on the trail! The desert bloom is gorgeous. I wish I could join you for a couple of days! But I will have to do it vicariously. Keep on going steph, by steph:)

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