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MTN^alex - Pacific Crest Trail Journal - 2012

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City: Hesperia
State: CA
Country: United States
Begins: Mar 17, 2012
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Sat, Mar 24th, 2012
Start: N32 35.383 W116 28.019
End: N32 55.795 W116 28.868
Daily Distance: 0

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 1,748
Journal Visits: 6,664
Guestbook Views: 190
Guestbook Entrys: 2

Last PLB Location

Pacific Crest Trail Map

A Week in!

I am a week in and will start posting on here more. The first week was tough with the rain and snow storms. It was good though as it revealed weaknesses in my gear. For now you can read about my adventure with on or

I hope to meet some of you out on the trail!

I am copying here from my that has photos and videos of the week so far.

St. Patricks Day!!
Day 1 03/17

Started out yesterday on the Pacific Crest Trail! This has been a dream of mine and to start it meant so much. I felt no jitters or anticipation, just a full realization that I wouldn't be coming home to sleep in a bed for six months. :) I imagined hiking near the Mexican border might be somewhat risky but it wasn't at all. People were waving to me when I went through Campo! I also thought it might be dry arid desert but it was completely green and beautiful! I was into the first mtn range within an hr and I was BLOWN AWAY by the sheer beauty... Granite rocks and green chaparral and cactus.. Blooming desert flowers and mountain vistas overlooking picturesque little ranches.. I saw a huge red hawk that swooped out of a tree and right over my head, plus rabbits, ducks, toads,mice and a pair of huge blue jays that followed me for a little bit! It rained from the moment I started but it was completely manageable. It rained all day. Then at about 6:30, it HIT. Rain became sleet and little balls of hail, and I continued on for another hr until I was forced to make camp at mile 17.5 because my clothes were soaked through and it was becoming intolerable. I expected this in the sierras, not on day 1! Well, you know what they say about assuming. It was 30 outside when I went to bed, and I literally peed in a Bottle and put it in my sleeping bag to keep my feet warm. Why waste it? :) I emptied it out every couple hrs and kept filling it up and kept warm all night. I had more experiences on the first day on the trail than I've had in the last year...
About 2:30 am I rolled over and felt the whole side of my tent crunch.
SNOW. lots of it.

Day 2. 03/18. Gut check

I froze my ass off last night. I woke up to at least four inches of snow and on and off hail sleet and snow. I had to make a hard decision.
I had met four other section hikers the night before, one pushing hypothermia. The weather was tough and I came close too. My speech got slow and I lost dexterity in my fingers. I took off my gloves and could see lines running from my wrists to my fingertips. Id never seen anything like that, and my first thought was the dye in my gloves had washed off. I realized they were the veins in my hand- they were dark and purple. I immediately found a rock overhang where I could dry off and I heated my hands around my stove. I changed clothes and did jumping jacks and pushups.
I was ok- I got warm. I'm used to pushing it when hiking and I love challenging myself. But yesterday was a real ego check. What I learned yesterday is how different this is from normal hiking, or even the strenuous hiking that I'm used to. Out here, you're on your own. Every damn little thing has a consequence.
If you're lazy and you don't take your shoes and socks off when you take breaks, you get blisters. You forget to put your solar panel out, you don't get to phone friends and family at night. If you don't put your packcover on cause it's only drizzling and it's noon and warm and you think it'll dry later- you get proven dead wrong when a storm comes through and soaks you to the bone.
The mistake I made was not buying rain/snow pants and thermal underwear to wear at night. I have a fleece and a rain/wind/snow jacket. However, my pants were not nearly as waterproof as I thought they were, and over the course of the day, they soaked through from the rain and chilled me in the 20-40 mph winds this storm brought down on the mountains I was hiking in. I wanted to continue to Lake Morena where there was a market i could go into and get warm, but made camp just two miles short because it got dark and the storm got bad. I spent a cold night and woke up to find out none of my clothes had dried out-at all- and it was still going outside.

I had to decide whether to stay in my sleeping bag inside my tent with all my wet clothes not drying and ride the storm out for possibly 2 days, or pack everything up, put on wet clothes and book it to the safety of the Lake Morena campground. I waited for a lull in the storm and made a run for it. Probably a good decision too because the storm only got worse. I arrived at the Oak Shores Grocery and the owner Sam let me dry off and eat and wait while my dad made his way down to take me to get proper snow pants and thermals. Thank you trail angel Sam for letting me get your floor all wet while the snow was blowing sideways! And Thank you Dad for coming all the way down to make sure i wasn't miserable riding out this storm In wet clothes, even though the roads were icy and cars were sliding off the road!! I have to stay here at Lake Morena another day or two til this weather clears up. Next stop, Mt Laguna!!

Day 3. 03/19 Waiting it out

I slept (almost 12 hrs! )here at Lake Morena campground and woke up to more snow and rain. I spent the first half of the day huddled in the bathroom next to an outlet letting my phone charge until the rain stopped (fun, fun) and then when the sun came out it was glorious.... even if only for two or three minutes at a time. I ran into the four hikers from the first day, and they said that three of them came close to hypo as well, I was happy to see that they were off the mountain and safe! Apparently someone had to be rescued by the fire dept. during the storm, and they were glad it wasn't me. Nothing much going on today, I'll be starting early tomorrow back on the trail. While I was cooking dinner and writing this however, a pack of turkeys strolled right by! Tonight I sleep to sounds of crickets chirping and frogs croaking. Way better than my tent whipping in the wind.
Posted by Alex Zinda at 12:30 PM

Day 04 03/20

I slept in and took my time today packing up my tent and eating breakfast, soaking in the first sunlight in a few days. I also found a shower, my first on the trip and the coldest of my life!!! I hit the trail fresh and clean, and ran into a man named Joe from Oregon who's also living the dream. He talks alot about age and not getting younger but I think the trail doesn't discriminate. We hiked the rest of the day and camped together on a ridge high above hwy 8 east of San Diego. It's really dark out here...Its so nice being able to see stars again. I lived in a city for the last four years and could never see any stars.
Just in the last week I've met so many people, on and off the trail. I'm glad to see that there are a lot of good people left in the world, and given the chance most people do the right thing.
Sometimes I get bored and try mimicking birdcalls but i get mixed reactions. A lot of times they keep calling to you. Or swoop really low over your head like theyre gonna divebomb you.

Day 05-06 Ascent to Laguna Mtn 03/21-22

I got a good start on Wed morning, and ended up hiking from 10:30am-8:45pm. I made my way up through the hills above hwy 8 and through a military ordinance range to the higher reaches of the laguna mountain meadows, which were still covered in snow. At the beginning of the day it was pretty hot and I was brushing ticks off every 50 yards or so and by the end of the day I was at 6000 ft and I traded ticks for snow and I was cool with that. At one point I stopped melt snow to fill my water reservoir and I saw a Mountain Lion silhouetted on a rock a few hundred yards away. I couldn't even believe it so I got out my spotting scope and sure enough, there it was. I shouted "LION!!!" at the top of my lungs to try and scare it, and it looked around, when it saw me it dropped off the rock in what seemed like half a second. I kept my ice axe out for the next few miles and constantly looked behind me. The snow got really deep as I got further up the mtn, Literally from 5-8:45pm was the most intense cardio of my life as sunk knee deep with each step. I made it to Laguna Mtn a couple hrs after dark and got a room at the Laguna Mtn Lodge, a hiker friendly place with hot showers and wood burning stoves in the rooms. I spent thurs. resting up there and exploring the area which has a lot of history. They had pictures in the lodge of people carving out a life there all the way back in 1917.

Day 07 03/23 Gettin In the Rhythm

Let me just start off by saying I really appreciate each and every one of you who reads these entries, I don't take you guys for granted! I apologize if occasionally I drone on, most of the time I'm writing at night when I'm exhausted and can barely keep my eyes open. :)
Today was awesome. Great weather and beautiful views the whole way. This morning I left the Laguna Mtn Lodge behind and headed off into the snow to begin the slow descent into the Anza-Borrego desert. I came across some weird govt construction site with signs to scare people off, I wonder what they're doing? I also saw a marmot and a desert fox, sorry guys, both were too far for pictures. In other news, I have a blister the size of a quarter!!
Weird things go through your mind while hiking day after day. You think about family, friends, things going on that you miss. It's funny I love politics and before this I followed the news closely. It occurred to me today that since I've been out here I haven't thought about it at all! It's also odd how you can drift off in your head thinking about anything and everything and come back to reality and realize you've been on autopilot the last two miles.
Right now I'm camped on a granite boulder-strewn ridge with a view about a vertical mile down to the desert below. That's where I'll be tommorrow. I have to hitchhike 13 miles to Julian to resupply possibly tomm. or the next day. I dont want to but it's normal for PCT hikers. Otherwise it's an EXTRA 26 mile walk off trail. I've been thinking of what I'm gonna put on my sign- I came up with the top three:


I decided "Hiker to Julian, 13 mi" would be sufficient. :)

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Journal Photo

Headnorth 2012



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