Snacks and Heavy Packs

May 29, 2024

Written By Riordan Cicciu

My feet feel as if I’ve been beating them with a hammer… I suppose I have been, in a way. My body is slowly becoming accustomed to the abuse of hiking with a loaded pack day after day. My legs aren’t hurting nearly as bad as I thought they would. However, I have already had to invest in a new pair of shoes because the last pair made me want to scream into the void. Due to the tens of thousands of daily impacts, my feet have become noticably swollen and the shoes I started with no longer fit. Hopefully, with these new trail runners laced to my feet, I can begin hiking longer and with less discomfort. Time will tell.

I am currently on my 11th day of my thru-hike as of writing this and so far have been pleasantly surprised by the changing landscape. knowing that the first 700 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail takes place in the Southern Californian desert, I had a very different idea of what the scenery would look like. Perhaps something more akin to Mad Max? Instead, I’ve been welcomed by beautiful mountains, pine forests teaming with life, and of course, sandy hills blanketed in shrubs and rattlesnakes. Also to my surprise, the desert hasn’t been all that hot. There is a prevailing wind from the West that is coupled with the relatively high altitude that keeps the temperatures mild throughout the day (for now). That being said, on the few stretches that were particularly barren, I could still feel the radiation from the sun cooking my skin. Nothing a little sunscreen and a sun hoodie can’t fix, right?

Much of the first week on trail, I spent alone throughout the day. I liked it that way. It allowed me to adjust to trail life at my own speed. I became accustomed the usual aches and pains that come with hiking 20 miles day after day. I learned when to push through my discomfort, and when to take a break. Recently, however, I started hiking with a few others that seem to have about the same pace as me. Out here, this is called a “tramly” (trail -family). We don’t know each other’s real names. Instead we go by our “trail names” that are given to us by other hikers. Oftentimes there is a funny story that comes with it. In one of my early blog posts, I told a story of how I was given my trail name “Calhoun” on one of the first nights of my transcontinental bike ride. Well, now I have been given a new trail name: “Fully Charged”. A fellow hiker took great amusement in the fact that I had brought an absurd amount of battery packs with me, mostly to ensure my camera stays charged for my documentary. Most hikers would argue that the heavy batteries are not at all worth their weight. Unfortunately for me, it’s a necessary burden that I must carry with me to Canada.

I’ve begun to enjoy the company of my growing tramly. The banter and belly laughs break the monotony of all day hiking and makes the days seem shorter than they are. We all just spent a day in a small town called Idyllwild, where we resupplied, got showered up, and ate as many calories as we could before disappearing back into the wild. After a quick hike back up Mt. San Jacinto, we found a cozy campsite with a view at around 9,000 feet. In the morning, we plan on summiting the mountain and topping off our climb at roughly 10,800 feet before climbing back down to the desert floor. It’s going to be a grueling day… but, they say the view is the best in Southern California!

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