Total Miles: 1243.1
Already mid-July, and I’m still in California. This is one long, though beautiful, state. With the Sierra gradually drifting behind us, the trail is inching lower and lower in elevation each day and tomorrow we’ll briefly dip all the way down below 3,000 feet–an elevation the trail hasn’t descended to since it followed the Los Angeles aqueduct over 700 miles ago.
On the Appalachian Trail, a feeling of drudgery commonly sets in that’s referred to as “The Virginia Blues,” owing to the fact that Virginia contains the most trail miles, the more dramatic scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains is now behind you while the stunning White Mountains of New Hampshire are over a thousand miles away, and it marks the time when the magnitude of a thru-hike begins to set in and, understandably, overwhelm many hikers. Here on the Pacific Crest Trail, the same holds true though on a much larger scale. The State of California contains just shy of 1,700 trail miles, or nearly 65% of the entire trail’s length. If you thought Virginia was long, well, California is a whole other story.
Despite the amount of time I’ve spent in California, I’ve yet to grow tired of it. To be sure, the scenery has gradually been bled of the drama that is the trademark of the High Sierra and the John Muir Trail, the snow and sapphire sky now all but a memory. But every long trail brings many changes of character, and that’s precisely what keeps it engaging, the mellower days only heightening the anticipation of the more spectacular ones yet to come. Aside from that, these last few days following the trail downward into increasingly wooded slopes has given my neck a break, my head no longer on a swivel to see the endless incredible views in every direction, and my mind the opportunity to wander more and to ponder things that I often leave little time for at home. And when I’m not going Zen, I’m chatting away with Beardoh and Sweet Pea about whatever happens to cross our minds. Our growing trail companionship has only heightened an already fantastic hike.