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Days 8-10 // the first 100

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

Day 8 // 2.9 miles PCT mile 79.9

What a sweet day! I awoke at our cushy Airbnb to the sun streaming through the window. So nice to finally sleep in and enjoy some time off trail. Alli and I both decided to make this day a near-o instead of a full zero since lodging in Julian is so pricey, but we wanted to get the most out of it.

We lounged around, stretched our muscles, showered again, called our parents, and organized our stuff. Our hosts also provided some breakfast food for us and then offered to drop us back downtown again. So thoughtful.

Alli and I both were hungry for more pie, so we headed back to Mom's. This time I decided to go savory with some delicious chicken pot pie. YUM.

I had a few more things I realized I needed in my food bag, so I went back to the market after planning when I'd meet Alli to hitch back to trail. I ran into Martina and her friends, Tom and E.T. (E.T. is constantly phoning home... hahaha).

I also met a really nice couple from Spokane, WA, Beatle and Matt.

I wandered the town a bit, and popped into the cider shop for more free hiker goodies - cider and chocolate covered pretzels. Seriously, Julian treats us hikers so well.

After chatting with a few more hikers, I decided to go to the Italian place, Romano's, for an early dinner. I got this ridiculous calzone the size of a football. I could only eat half of it, but they wrapped the rest in tinfoil for me to take on the trail. YAAASSS.

Finally, I headed to the other side of town to meet Alli at the Julian library where we planned to hitch from. There were a few others out hitching as well, and it only took around 5 minutes before a Ferrari pulled over for the first two waiting. Then a red pickup with a couple and a dog pulled over and asked where we were headed. "Scissors Crossing," we said, but ended up having to show them on a map. "Oh yeah, we can get you there! We're headed to the desert."

We threw our packs in the truck bed and got in the back with their pup. Mike and Carlita were their names, from Oceanside, CA. The had all sorts of questions for us about the trail, especially since there were so many of us out hitchhiking at once. They both loved hiking and camping out near the area and were headed to their favorite burrito joint after a hike.

After pulling up to Scissors Crossing, we offered to help with gas, but they refused and told us to have a good time.

We headed towards the underpass where some hikers were hanging out in the shade. There is also a water cache there maintained by awesome trail angels in the area, since this is the start of a pretty dry stretch. We've been really fortunate with water this year, but in the past, 20+ mile water carries weren't uncommon. I'm sure I'll still have some, but so far we have been really blessed with plenty of water.

I needed to let my calzone digest a bit, so I sat with Mary and a guy named Brian for a while before heading back out on trail. It was still pretty hot, but I felt like I entered a new zone of the trail as all different types of cacti appeared, many with beautiful flowers budding.

The trail moved uphill, back into the mountains from Julian. I hiked along, admiring the desert vegetation and the view. I also saw a pretty sizable snake halfway out of a hole in the middle of the trail. I was able to go around it, but it was still creepy enough to convince me not to cowboy camp. I set up my tent, got changed, and ate my delicious calzone before the sun went down.

Day 9 // 14.5 miles

PCT mile 94.4

It was hard to get up today - I ignored my alarm again and woke up at 5:45 instead. I had to go to the bathroom, but there wasn't really anywhere to dig a cathole except straight up the side of the mountain... So I had to do that. I got a bunch of little stickerbush things stuck to my sleep socks and just tried not to biff it off the edge.

I packed up and headed out around 7am. The mountain trail was a bit more shaded in this spot, which I was really thankful for since I didn't get up that early to avoid the sun.

I knocked out the first few miles and then was feeling the need for something besides the trail to focus on. For the first time, I decided to whip out the headphones. I decided to listen to a bit of the Streetlights New Testament (an audio reading of the NLT with some legit beats behind it). I went through Romans 1-5, and man, looking at the mountains while listening to God's Word is so sweet. I was pretty emotional just thinking about God's grace for us through Jesus despite our sin. I think being out here helps me remember more easily how big our God is.

I continued on after listening, the sun growing hotter and my feet aching more and more. I tend to hit a wall after mile 7 where I need more frequent sit breaks and every step gets harder.

I saw another rattlesnake in a rocky den, it's tail rattling at me as it slithered back inside. Eek.

I took a few more breaks and finally made it to the gate with a side trail to a water cache. Because this section is so dry, trail angels keep gallon jugs of water here for us. We're not supposed to rely on it, but it sure is nice. I signed the log book and noticed that some of my friends had passed through here yesterday since they didn't take a rest day in Julian. Hopefully I will catch them in Warner Springs!

I bumped into Alli, who was going another mile or so, then took a siesta in the shade.

I took my shoes off and pulled out my food bag but exhausted, I closed my eyes for a bit. I heard a rustling sound to my left and opened my eyes. About 5 feet over, next to my trekking poles, I saw the end of a black snake slither past into the bushes! NOPE. No sleep for me for the rest of this break.

But I ate a tortilla wrap with tuna and cheese, drank my extra liter of water w/ electrolytes, and was starting to feel better.

Several people passed on their way to fill up, including Brian, I guy I met yesterday from California. He's a teacher and has lived all around the world.

I got up from my break around 3:15, ready to tackle some more miles. Weaving upwards through the San Felipe Hills, I saw some incredible vistas.

I passed Alli's campsite and said hi, but pressed on another couple of miles until I reached a good campsite.

A guy named David from Chicago was already set up there, but several more joined us including a couple from New Zealand, some Germans, and Brian.

I chatted with my campmates, made a ramen bomb for dinner (ramen mixed with instant mashed potatoes), and collapsed into my sleeping bag.

Right now I'm trying not to laugh from inside my tent - David's tent collapsed in the wind and he's sweet talking to it while trying to set it back up, and also singing Adele. These people out here with me are weirdos which is awesome because I am one too.

Lol. Now he's talking on the phone to some friend and he's having to defend his camping skills. Meanwhile my tent is nice and secure because I put small boulders over each stake. Too funny.

Tomorrow I hit 100 miles, woohoo!

Day 10 // 15.1 miles

PCT mile 109.5

I rose early this morning and hit the trail by 6:15am. Hoping to make it to Warner Springs with time to spare, I wanted to try and get 10 miles in before 10am.

The sunrise was gorgeous again, another reason why early days are so awesome. The mountains turned red-orange, and I tried to soak it in. As soon as the colors appeared, they were gone, a reminder of how important it is to embrace each moment out here on the trail before it's over.

I continued onward, my thoughts wandering aimlessly until I remembered how close I was to the 100 mile mark and Eagle Rock. 97... 98... 99... and there it was! I had officially hiked 100 miles of the PCT. This 50 miles went by twice as fast as the last, almost in the same way that the years seem like they go faster as you get older.

I hit the Barrel Springs water source, talked a bit with Brian and two other guys, and kept going to keep the morning momentum up.

I crossed a road and headed back into the hills, but after a bit of climbing we began a beautiful descent into a grassy meadow of wildflowers. What beauty!

Cows grazed in the distance, and the tall grasses danced in the tall wind. I had to stop and take it all in.

Soon after, I made it to a shady stream and took my longer break. I had made it 11 miles since the morning, and it was time to eat and take a catnap. There were a few people from Switzerland also taking a break - I recognized some of them from the ride into Julian.

Knowing that Eagle Rock and Warner Springs were right ahead, I was motivated to only hang out there for an hour or so.

I could see Eagle Rock in the distance as I descended into another wide open area of grass and wildflowers. Thankfully there were some nice day hikers from San Diego there who took my picture there.

I pushed toward Warner Springs, growing tired again and ready for a break. I saw another snake - this one was warming itself directly I the middle of the trail. I jumped back, and then clacked my trekking poles at it to try and get it to move. Eventually it slithered away.

Finally, finally, I made it into town and crossed the road to the community center. What an awesome place! There was a tent city out in the field, and the volunteer told me all about free WiFi, charging stations, bucket showers and laundry out back, and a small resupply store.

One of the ladies there even gave me and Brian a ride to the Post Office to pick up our boxes!

I had caught up to several friends - Snickers, Marlin, Lady Bling, and Juliana. Joy and Hawkins were hanging out too!

After a shower and laundry, most of us headed across the street to the school, where they had a hiker dinner of mac n' cheese, meatloaf, and salad for only $8.

Afterwards I took down my laundry and got ready for a good nights' sleep.

410 views4 comments


Apr 21, 2019

My prediction is that I will eventually see a picture of you holding a snake. You will become one will all the creators of the pacific trail.

Great stories. Love all the weird people.


Apr 17, 2019

Great stories and experiences. Love your pictures. Praying you have a great day today!


Jill Finley
Jill Finley
Apr 17, 2019

I love reading your blog! You are so courageous to do this. I don’t think I could deal with the snakes and critters. Your photos are stunning! Blessings!


Sara Spasic
Sara Spasic
Apr 16, 2019

What a brave lady you are Stephanie! I couldn't handle dealing with the snakes like you have!! Prayers continue as you press on...only 2,500 miles to step at a time, by God's amazing grace. Love you!

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