desert

Sand by Luke Weisman

Thank you sand.

Thank you for showcasing your ability of energy conversion, away from each step meant to propel me forward, into your dark soul, for purposes unknown.

Thank you for your uncanny ability to find your way into my shoes, to hasten the destruction of my socks, and the formation of blisters. You're my constant reminder to take breaks, to take care of my feet. You're out to get them, I know, but prevent you I'll try.

I have to reluctantly thank you for the softness you can sometimes provide. With my tent pitched upon you at night, I sleep in relative comfort. I may have nightmares consisting of useless footsteps to nowhere, but dreams on the trail should be saved for a different thank you.

Thank you for testing my resolve on this first leg of this trip. But as I exited the desert, I thank you most of all for being behind me. Now please return to your place at the beach, I expect to see you soon enough, with an umbrellaed drink in hand, on a future tropical vacation.

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Saddle to the Sierras by Luke Weisman

Near mile 680 I passed over a saddle between two mountain tops and I noticed an amazing transformation. The landscape shifted, there were new smells, and new plants, there desert diminished, and I knew I was looking at my next leg of the trip, the Sierras! They were finally here.

I love it, and I earned it. The desert was hard, harder than I thought it was going to be, especially right near the end. A forty mile stretch with no water nearly got me, those two days were my lowest moments on the trail so far, but I made it through, and now it's completely different.

Water is everywhere! Trees and shade everywhere. The spirits of every hiker that I meet high, everyone is smiling. This is what it's all about! And now Deet is also what it's all about...I may have gotten out of the desert (tough as it was), to now deal with the mosquito hoard. Annoying biting bugs or long heavy water carries? I know which option I'd sooner take.

Some of the highlights so far are, trekking over Forester Pass, a 13,000 foot high section, the highest point on the PCT. Sliding down a snow incline and bruising my ass on a rock. Drinking unfiltered water straight from snow melt off from the peak of a mountain. The challenge of multiple stream crossings.

As always I can't wait to see what comes next. It's never what I think it will be.

Joshua Tree by Luke Weisman

Thank you Joshua Tree.

Thank you for germinating and growing where you did, to the size and robustness to provide me adequate shade to escape the intense Mojave Desert sun.

Thank you for allowing me the time to rest, and the time to explore your ancient mysterious beauty during the five hottest hours of the day.

Thank you for your durability to withstand the harshness of this landscape.

Thank you for reminding me I'm alive when accidentally backing into you, and stabbing myself on your pokey skin.

And as evidence of the many petrified cow patties that surround me, I also thank you for the protection you provide the natural wildlife. You are a true hero of the desert.

Thank you.

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One Month by Luke Weisman

I have been on the Pacific Crest Trail for one month now. One month! It feels like yesterday I started, I was back in Campo without a clue about what I was about to do, but no, I've traveled over 600 miles on foot. 600, wow that number is crazy to me! I can't believe that nearly one fourth of the whole trail is now behind me. And still I continue without much of a clue.

This first fourth of the trail is considered the desert section, and before I actually experienced it, I imagined it so differently than it turned out being. While there have been plenty of truly hot days with little shade that tested my resolve, I also hiked through so many different areas that weren't desert at all. Lots of high passes through pine tree zones, most notably that areas around Wrightwood, Big Bear and Idywilld. And other locations really reminded me of where I grew up in Carmel Valley, the smell of the oak trees, the chirp of the grasshoppers in the tall grasses, the rolling brown hills...it made me really miss that area. Also in this desert section, I've swam in lakes, relaxed in a hot spring, collected and used snow as a way to cool off, and seen the stars like I never have before. It's been truly a unique experience.

That being said, I can't wait for the next leg of the trip, the Sierras! No more 20-30 mile sections without water, no more days without shade and hopefully no more sand, just bears, high peaks and cold nights! Can't wait.

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Another aspect of the trail that I've thought a lot about is the balance between the mental and the physical. Before this trip started I would have thought that balance skewed more to the physical, now I know it's the opposite. You need a basic level of physicality, definitely, but out here it's all mental. The walking uphill in the sand, the sun, the switchbacks, the long heavy water carries, the blisters, the setting up a tent in the wind, the food you're sick of, the gnats, the unknown, the everything. All those difficulties are being achieved by every type of body out here, but we all have our different ways to cope. My ways continue to evolve, sometimes I grit and bear it (which usually ends up with me in pain), or I just stop. I stop, I sit down, I eat something, relax, and realize that if I don't do whatever it is I'm doing at whatever pace, it will be completely fine, the trail will always be there.

Hike your own hike.

Now for some photos.

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The Desert by Luke Weisman

The desert is a harsh mistress, in the middle of the day it can be dangerous, the heat and the lack of shade is brutal, hiking through it is challenging. But between 6pm and 10am the desert completely changes. It's beautiful and quiet, the temperature drops dramatically, the stars are nights are brilliant, over all it's a very enjoyable hiking experience.

I've made some questionable decisions to hike in that afternoon sun, relying on the umbrella I'm carrying to help battle the heat, but it's just not enough, and my body has paid for it. I've now made pact with myself, going forward I'll be taking longer siestas in the middle of the day, looking for a spot in the shade to read, or nap, and then hike into the night. The evenings out here are perfect, I might as well take advantage of it. 

This will not only help me stay sane, but will help with the water consumption as well. For example, when I started day four, I had to cross a 23 miles waterless section, and to make it through that I had to come close to my maximum water storage capability, 7.5 liters. That much water weighs a ton! If I had hiked more of that section later in the day, I think I could have carried less, not be so burdened, and had been in a better mental state. Learning the hard way. 

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100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail! 

Paulden by Luke Weisman

The small town of Paulden, AZ. Home of the Weisman household and extremely slow internet connections. Ash and I take walks around the area everyday, these are some of the sights. 

Paulden has been my base of operations for the last couple weeks. Currently I'm still working on my resupply + food strategy, as well as gathering last minute items (do I really need that little doodad?), but it's getting close now. Crazy to think, the trail is right around the corner.