Day 1: Campo to mile 11.4

Our first day on the Pacific Crest Trail. The Mexican border, trains, rattlesnakes, and desert flowers.

Starting location: Campo, terminus monument, US-Mexico border.
Stopping location:  Stealth site at UTM 128000n N, 44000m E.
Miles hiked: Roughly 11.4
Start time: Noon
End time: 6pm

Our pre-hiking day started at the Red Roof Inn in Downtown San Diego. We spent the previous night there with family.

We drove to Campo with our family, and had lunch at a small taco stand there which is not in Yogi’s guidebook.

We reached the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail by noon of 4/19/2015 and said goodbye to our family. We were walking by 12:30pm.


The first mile of the trail zig-zags across Forrest Gate Road (the terminus access road) and, as a result, we kept passing our family. We even hopped off the trail to have one last soda.

The first 8 miles of the trail were desolate. We saw nobody. This was in stark contrast to last years Appalachian Trail hike; the first 10 miles of the Appalachian Trail are crowded.

The PCT parallels Forrest Gate Road for about 2 miles; at least until the crossing with SR-94.

Around mile 3 a southbound hiker worriedly looking for SR-94 passed. He had a thru-sized pack on, but he clearly didn’t know where he was.

Shortly thereafter, we crossed train tracks. It’s the line on which the Pacific Southwest Train Museum (in Campo) sits.


Apollo next to a Pacific Crest Trail sign next to a train track

We took tons of pictures of the desert scenery and flora. It’s alive here; there are colorful flowers and expansive vistas everywhere. It was a striking contrast that with the Appalachian Trail, whose primary colors are brown (the trail and tree trunks) and green (leaves).

Wild poppies along the Pacific Crest Traio


Purple flowers along the Pacific Crest Trail

We made camp at a stealth site whose UTM coordinates I gave at the top of this post. It’s not in Guthook’s guide, Halfmile’s maps, or Yogi’s guide.  It has a great view of a mountain directly north.


Stealth campsite at mile 11.4 along the Pacific Crest Trail

We’ve gotten ahead of ourselves with the photos; it’s very hard to work with photos embedded in posts, so forgive the following lack of chronology.

Midway through our hiking day, probably around 4pm, we encountered our first rattlesnake. We anticipate many more to come. This rattlesnack was resting on a rock to the west of the trail. Unfortunately for us, that rock was at eye level. When it started rattling, it was at our height. Erica had already passed by the time it rattled; Rick jumped out of the way in a most comical fashion.

After the fifth mile we started meeting people. Two couples, one of whom offered to share their campsite as we passed. One couple is from Maine; the other from San Diego.

Most of the official (as per one of Yogi, Guthooks, or Halfmile) campsites were taken. Hence us resorting to a stealth site for the evening.

We ended the day with a dinner of falafel and beef jerky, both of which we prepared in the preceding few months. They worked well as a dinner item; particularly the falafel patties which handle like large biscuits.


Starbuck and Apollo


  • Yay! Congrats on being on your way! If you don’t already know, your flower photos were of golden poppies (of course), sticky monkey flower, woolly blue curls, (next page) dodder (the orange silly string stuff…parasite, morning glory family), and a weird low blooming yucca. Have a great trip!

  • You two are making great progress on your quest, and the photos are fantastic. Would you please help my class learn more about the CA drought by continuing to take pictures of dried and depleted lake, river, and stream beds as you go? You are documenting our drought first-hand. I put the PCT laminated map (the same one that Milo has posted) up in my classroom this weekend, and we’re following your progress with dated sticky tabs!

  • As for the rattler, Erica we came across a few of those both in Anza Borrego and the Antelope Valley, so you should have no fear (well, maybe a healthy fear!). I don’t remember which type of rattler you’d be finding in your present location, but remember that the ones in Antelope Valley are Mojave Greens, amongst the most dangerous. A bite by one of those critters requires air evacuation every time; not a good way to get your first helicopter ride! Remember, Erica when Katie was about 4 years old and came within 3 feet of a Mojave Green who crossed the Poppy Preserve path right in front of her on a cold March day? They camouflage very well in the low brush, and once it crossed the path, became invisible. So stay on that path in dessert country!

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