A High Sierra Summary

I hadn't actually ever put on a proper backpacking backpack until the morning we were leaving San Diego for Campo to begin hiking the PCT. Andy helped me adjust the straps of my brand new purple ULA Circuit, cinching the waistband and the load lifters so that the weight was evenly distributed throughout my short torso. 
I've never been to any of the places that the PCT passes through, with the exception of Lake Tahoe and Lassen National Park. I'd never even heard of Kings Canyon or Sequoia National Parks. I'd never intended to climb Mt. Whitney. The John Muir Trail seemed like a far away, enchanted thing that other people hiked. It was never on my to-do list (which does include goals like ride a yak in Mongolia, eat tea leaf salad in Burma, trek in Patagonia and make a pilgrimage through the Yukon to Alaska).
But now we have hiked 1000 miles. I've shredded another pair of Brooks Cascadias schlepping through the High Sierras, up thousands of feet over rocky mountain passes and scrambling down the other side through steep snow fields and across soft spoken creeks. We have descended the Golden Staircase between Mather and Muir Passes while thunder bellowed empty threats over the roar of the raging river. We've skinny dipped in freezing water while bald eagles scooped jumping fish out of the air nearby. We watched a mama bear and her cubs grazing near Arrowhead Lake. We grimaced our way through infuriating clouds of buzzing mosquitos near Dorothy Lake. I've counted hundreds of trembling wildflowers of all shapes and colors, carpeting meadows and growing determinedly out of rocks and between gnarled tree roots. We impulsively traveled down to Yosemite Valley and summitted the famous Half Dome, stupidly burning blisters into our palms on the cables near the top as we heaved ourselves up the steep rock face. This has been my life for the last three weeks. 
I've acquired absurd tan lines, an outrageous collection of bug bites and calves of steel (all while maintaining a sparkly pedicure at each town stop). And we're not even halfway done yet.
I didn't know that the utopia that is the John Muir Trail existed. But now I've experienced firsthand the babbling brooks and fluffy marmots, the vigilant critters that stand up at attention before scurrying back under rocks, the clusters of deer who can't be bothered, the electric green meadows and frozen lakes that cascade into clear, clear delicious flowing water. The endless mountains sprawling in every direction and the low points between them in which we pass through to a whole new dimension on the other side. The ups and downs by the thousands of feet.
It was exhausting and exhilarating. And with the Sierras at our backs, we push on towards Lake Tahoe. Hi ho!

Fare you well, Southern California

"Fare you well, Southern California. Fare you well, my only true one.

Gonna leave this broke down desert. 
On my hands and knees, I will roll roll roll."
There are many ways to break down the sections of the 2600+ miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. There are lettered sections, which I haven't a clue about. There are all the hundreds of miles and town stops in between, which I've been loosely basing our progress by. Then there are the big chunks: Southern California (the desert), Central California (the Sierra Nevadas), Northern California (the Southern Cascades), Oregon and Washington. 

We are about to get the hell outta this desert. 
We will bid a fond farewell to trudging through deep sand and Joshua Tree groves. Goodbye to the thousand ways to pop your inflatable sleeping pads. See ya later skittish lizards and scuttling horny toads. Buh-bye sharp cacti with your papery, delicate flowers. Adios dry scrubby mountains with your switchbacks and your shiny black robo-beetles marching purposefully through the dust. Catch ya later, long waterless stretches of trail with your murky cow pie infested, off-trail springs. Take it easy depressing, blackened burn zones and stinky poisonous Poodle Dog Bush (yes, that's a thing).
The Southern California section was PCT hazing. It was a brutal 700 mile training session for the glorious wilderness that is yet to come. For every mile we schlepped along the California aquaduct and across the endless wind farms and the sweltering Mojave desert, we will earn numerous alpine lakes and soaring snowy peaks. We will no longer need to carry liters and liters of water (at 2.2 lbs per liter). The water flows like wine in the Sierras. Or at least that's what they say.
In hindsight, Southern California was sorta like a bad trip. You don't realize how uncomfortable you are along the way, but once it's nearly over you can look back and laugh. You'll come out a better, stronger person because you conquered those vast desert stretches. You've acquired the strength and confidence to take on the mountains. And you've earned them. 
And in the last two weeks, the Sierra Nevadas have gotten more snow than they have all winter (a record low snow year), so we've been executing ultra-supreme dilly-dallying in Lake Isabella (a 37 mile hitch from the trail) with our buddies, lounging on inflatable pool toys at the highway-side motel pool and painting our nails sparkly purple. It's supposed to be a whopping 100 degrees in Kennedy Meadows this weekend, so by the time we get there (only 50 miles from here), hopefully some of that fresh powder has melted and some of the bolder, more hardcore hikers have trampled down our path for us, paving the way up Forester Pass (the PCT's highest point).

Bring on the bear boxes, the micro spikes and the mosquito nets.

"Mama, Mama, many worlds I've come since I first left home."