Water in the Desert

In the mountains of Apple Valley, California, the Pacific Coast Trail winds its way through switchbacks and inclines, presenting a tempting opportunity for both experienced and novice hikers. On November 15, 2014, Brenna Elliott, Skyler Eve and I set out to hike part of the PCT and set up camp under the stars next to a hot spring nestled in the desert.

The steep incline at the beginning of our trek was indicative of the difficult hike to come. After a few hours my lungs were burning and I was barely able to keep my legs moving up the side of a mountain but I felt more alive than I had in months.

“People weren’t meant to live in boxes,” said Elliott, a long-time friend and my guide along the trail. “I love where I live. These are my mountains.”

Near the end of our hike, the hot sun quickly dipped behind the canyon wall and the temperatures dropped rapidly to near-freezing. We came upon the hot springs and set up camp in the dwindling twilight.  The vision of slowly emerging stars and the bubbling of the stream amidst the silence brought me to tears.

My legs hurt for days afterward and the dirt in my hair was a chore to wash out. But the hike brought me a kind of inner peace that I haven’t felt in a very long time. In times of turmoil–personal or otherwise–being able to escape the city and face a physical challenge can prove a rewarding experience.