It’s More Than Just a Hike

May 19, 2024

Written By Riordan Cicciu

And so it begins. This morning, I was dropped off at the southern terminous of the Pacific Crest Trail with 2,650 miles of wilderness before me. The Mexican border was just a stones throw from where I was standing. I signed the log found at the terminus and began hiking in a generally northward direction through the winding landscape just beyond Campo, California. Once again, I found myself at the mercy of the desert.

A year ago, when conversing with a few family members before my cross-country bike ride, my sister mentioned that I could do this sort of thing for charity. I perked up in my chair to the thought of it. It was one that hadn’t occured to me before. Instead, I selfishly wanted to traverse the country for myself and only myself. The thought quickly faded as I began hammering away at the bicycle for the coming months. However, looking back at the whole thing, there is a piece of me that feels as though I missed out on a real opprotunity. I could have used my story to help others!

This brings me to where I’m at now. Quite literally, I am writing this blog post from the inside of my tent about 15 miles from the start of the PCT. My legs feel like heavy clubs, my feet ache like never before, and my lower back is strained from the hard day of hiking. But, I’m going to bed with high spirits and a thirst for more as I know that this time, I’m not missing the opportunity to use my story for good. It seems as though I’ve become a conservationist in a way, out here teetering between the acts of sight seeing, serving, and borderline suffering. Despite the exhaustion, I can sleep soundly knowing that each step taken is one towards conservation of the very landscape I am passing through.

My first day was brutal. I started with far too much weight in my pack. This promise that I would make a documentary of my experience means that I have to carry roughly ten additional pounds of camera gear with me along my trek, on top of my already heavy pack. Fortunately, the desert seems to be full of water so far. I haven’t been more than seven or eight miles from a water source. This allows me to carry a bit less water than normal, and save some weight.  Still, I’m sifting through my items to see what I can afford to send home or give to other hikers, just to help lighten my load a bit more.

The morning wasn’t too hot. But by noon, the temperature had risen high enough to make my climb out of the canyon rather miserable. The trail was totally exposed, and I had to stop frequently to rest my legs and guzzle water. By  4 PM, I had made it to the bottom of the next canyon where a small creek was flowing with ice cold water, and a few other first time thru-hikers that had already set up camp for the night. I decided to join them and plan to hike for at least the next few days in their company. In the coming days, I look forward to the arduous hike ahead of us all in the morning. Until then, I must rest.

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