Exploring The Pacific Crest Trail: Part I

A Photography Expedition By Brandon Sharpe

Thank you to every single person that helped make this hike possible!

Miles to Canada
Miles Hiked
Days Hiked
Feet in Elevation

The Great American Southwest

Campo, California  •  Mile: 0

Today I begin a journey that I never truly thought would become a reality. After months and months of planning it all comes down to this one. simple. moment.

This moment of reflection and pride simultaneously producing a combo of anxieties and excitement that make me feel as if I am going to explode. The anxieties as a result of fear, and the excitements as a result of anticipation, where both will unknowingly provide me with a life lesson I won’t soon forget.

Today I start my thru-hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. A journey that will take me 2,663 miles, through 14,000 feet of elevation, 25 national forests, and 7 national parks. It will take me around 6 months to complete as I walk from the U.S./Mexico border to Manning, B.C., Canada and will be the biggest challenge of my life up to this point.

I will begin my hike in “The Great American Southwest” where many populations and cultures have roamed in search of paradise in a new found land. As I walk across it’s barren and often hot landscape, I look forward to reaching my first destinations of Mt Laguna Lodge, and Warner Springs, in about 7 days time. I am not sure what sits ahead, but I’ll be damned if I’am not going to find out.

This shot was taken by one of my extremity talented friends @elltydd with my edit, on the mountain sides of Riverside, California as I got prepared for this trip. I can’t thank him and his wonderful other half Cara enough for all their hospitality and support!

And off we go!

A Hard Experience To Explain

Julian, California  •  Mile: 77

I am currently at mile 77 on The Pacific Crest Trail in a town named “Julian” and I am not going to lie, this has been one of the toughest experiences I have ever been through in my entire life.

I have blisters on top of blisters, sore muscles in places I never thought could get sore, constantly dehydrated, constantly struggling, and am completely and utterly exhausted, but every day I wake up and realize that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world then where I am at this very moment.

The people and places that I have seen and met on this trail have been nothing short of inspiring and amazing. In fact, I feel like a word like “amazing” can’t even begin to do justice to anything I have experienced up to this point.

Everyday I have the pleasure of walking miles and miles and miles along mountains ridges of untouched and pristine views filled with adventure on a level that you would only see in a “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Some mornings I wake from my tent only to be immediately greeted by some of the most amazing sunrises I have ever seen. This particular one was at Mt Laguna around mile 50. The wind the night before kicked up to around 50 mph I was told, and little did I know that everything in the distance was everything I would be crossing in the next couple of days, as I approach my first resupply point of Warner Springs. More to come as I make my way north toward Canada as my final destination.

2,590 miles to go.

Today I Took What’s Called A “Zero Day”

Idyllwild, California  •  Mile: 151.5

In the thru-hiker world, meaning I did absolutely nothing but eat copious amounts of delicious foods, let my body rest, shower, and edit photos I have taken while on this journey so far.

I feel like I have far to many to share already and I am only about 151.5 miles in to a 2,663 mile journey, that puts me in a town called “Idyllwild” a nice cozy and quaint mountain town near Palm Springs California.

The desert is a pretty tough place. It’s hot and dry and the climbing up and down is exhausting at times. Sometimes you find yourself yelling at the switch backs, as you look off into the distance and see the trail off the distance repeating the very action you are currently struggling to get through.

Would I want to be anywhere else? The answer to that is simply, nope. My body has started to adapt to the conditions of hiking 20 mile days, while carrying a 35lbs bag on my back. My strength is good and my mind is in a even better place. I wake when the sun rises and sleep when it sets only to wake momentarily to gaze at the billions of stars that float right about me from camp.

In this photo if you look closely you will find a hiker marching down the trail looking off to the mountains in the distance. The scale of the mountains to people on this trail is astonishing to me, and I am told these are babies to what lies ahead.

This is a dream, and I am living it.

Unidentified Flying Objects

Exploring The Pacific Crest Trail: Part I

Miles to Canada
Miles Hiked
Days Hiked
Feet in Elevation

Been Through A Lot In The Past 4 Days.

Fuller Ridge, California  •  Mile: 200

Some of those things include, summiting Mt. Jacinto at 10,834 feet. From up there you could see the whole entire world beneath you. It was really a spectacular thing to be able to look back at the distance we have covered as well as see the mountains we have yet to cross ahead. John Muir himself wrote “The view from San Jacinto is the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth!” and I think he was pretty spot on.

If that climb wasn’t awesome enough, next up was Fuller Ridge, where we would weave in and out and up through thick forest areas to be put out at amazing views of the mountains we were crossing. At times you could even see the ridge itself and it would hit you at that point, that we were literally walking along the tops of these mountains. A powerful thing to experience.

After the spectacular views of Fuller Ridge, the next day we had to descend the north facing side of the mountain for about 15 miles, only to be lowered down into a desert valley filled with sand. The only water source for this hike was a random water fountain in the desert. Walking through a hot desert in the sand equals no fun. We arrived around 3pm at “Ziggy and the Bear’s” place, a loving elderly couple who opens their home to thru-hikers during the hiker season. We call these type of people “Trail Angels” and boy are they amazing human beings.

After a night of rest and relaxation to get ready for the next day, we headed off into the desert once again to climb up to around 8,000 feet to a valley that reminded me of Zion National Park. That night as we set up our tents we noticed some really awesome clouds forming in the desert we just left and thought not to much of it, other than the strong gust of winds that would rip through river bed we had been hiking through. Little did we know we were in for one of the toughest nights on the trail yet. Those aforementioned clouds weren’t so innocent and they were about to show us what kind of power they really can possess.

Snow In The Desert

Mission Valley, California  •  Mile: 240

I have had the pleasure of seeing and going through some really cool things while out here on The Pacific Crest Trial but one not to forget anytime soon, happened while I was camping in Mission Creek one night.

As I sat up my tent I noticed the winds ripping through the valley were turbulent and even violent at times, but I figured it would pass. I could see storm clouds rolling through a valley I hiked out of earlier that day so I figured I was safe and that I was at a distance from any of it’s effects.

Boy, was I wrong. I woke up around 3:30 to what I thought was the sound of sand hitting my tent but turned out to be rain. That rain soon turned to ice,and shortly after full blown snow.

Keep in mind we are technically in a desert at this point, so snow was the last thing I expected to see falling from the sky. I quickly covered my gear and got back in my tent to ride out the storm. The winds were gusting all night which left me with little sleep.

The next morning I awoke to this scene. I don’t know if you have ever seen a snow covered desert, compete with snow covered cactus but I now can mark that one off the list. A reminder that, you just really never know what to expect each day while hiking the #pacificcresttrail

Deep Creek Hot Springs, In The Flesh.

Deep Creek Hot Springs, California  •  Mile: 335

Have you ever seen those movies about the guy walking across the desert, and then suddenly out of no where an oasis appears?! Well I have good news for you, that place really exist, and it is called Deep Creek Hot Springs.

After being hammered by a snow storm while camping in Mission Creek days before, we moved on towards a more dry climate and elevated high into the desert once again.

After two separate days of twenty mile long waterless stretches of desert, I was running low on energy and motivation when suddenly I rounded a switch back and it was just like a scene from the movies.

Down in the valley, sat a magical place. A clothing optional natural hot springs right in the middle of the desert. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My motivation to finish the last mile of my day was immediately no longer an issue.

For the remainder of the day I just sat in the hot springs, moving from the hot pools to the cold ones. The water was like therapy to my sore muscles, and the conversations provided plenty of fuel for thought.

That night I cowboy camped under the stars and as I was closing my eyes thinking about how lucky I was to have the privilege of experiencing this journey, a shooting star flew by almost as confirmation that my thoughts were completely justified.

Driftwood Vs. The Vasquez Rocks

Exploring The Pacific Crest Trail: Part I

Miles to Canada
Miles Hiked
Days Hiked
Feet in Elevation

“Alone In The Wilderness”

Angeles National Forest, California  •  Mile: 400

I never saw myself in this type of predicament when I was young and dreaming of all the places I would go and see in my life. I never saw myself as an extreme athlete or hiker of any sort. I never saw myself as a photographer now that I think about it, but I guess we don’t really always get to choose were we end up. Not that I am complaining by any means.

Now that I am here, I often ask myself are you happy that this is where you ended up? Are you happy to be dirty every second of every day? Are you happy to be constantly hungry and dreaming of foods you can’t possibly have at the moment?

Are you happy to be sweating every day, and smelling even worse? Are you happy to be hiking 20+ miles every day of your life, and will you be happy with the man you became at the end of your 2,600 mile journey?

But most importantly, are you happy being out here all alone in the wilderness?

 The answer to all these questions is a simple, Yes. Now that I am here in this moment and living it, I wouldn’t dream of being anywhere else in the world. I wouldn’t dream of doing any other thing than what I am doing right at this very moment. Its all about living in the now anyways.

This is my home now. Out here, all alone in the wilderness.

So Here I Am At Mile 558!

Green Valley, California  •  Mile: 558

That means I have walked a total of 558 miles in about one month’s time! Not going to lie, I am pretty excited about it.

With that said, over the last couple of days it has been getting increasingly hotter and hotter every day. So in order to maintain my energy and strength for the 20+ mile days I have been putting in, I have found that taking a siesta during the day around 1pm-4pm and doing most of my big miles in the early hours and evening hours of the day have been the best times to hike in my opinion so far.

Just yesterday I was feeling extra beat from my morning hike and decided to snap a shot of what I looked like right before I drifted off to sleep, as I was curious on what I looked like since I haven’t looked in a while. When I looked at the image of the man in the screen staring back at me, I could barely even recognize him. Who was this person looking back at me blankly?

I was told I would change through out this experience, and I think I am starting to really understand what that really all means to me and my life. My appreciation and respect for this planet has increased tenfold, as well as my tolerance to put up with uncomfortable situations.

I have found that discomfort is temporary, and experience is forever, and that we just have to be willing to try hard enough to gain that experience.

2,100 miles to go! #pacificcresttrail

The Mojave Desert

Mojave Desert, California  •  Mile: 600

As we start to move closer to the Mojave desert, the land leading up to it has kind of started to give us a preview of what to expect in the not so distant future of our hike. The trail takes us up and down and around sparse mountains only to spit us out in dry, hot, and desolate valleys. After we cross this waterless stretch of land in the sun it has us climbing once again only to repeat the same type of hike we did the day before, almost as a rinse and repeat type of cycle.

As we approached our third day of expected climbs and desert we came to a surprising sight. A small cluster of houses called “hiker town” sitting in the distance and not far beyond it was the Los Angeles Aqueduct glimmering in the hot sun. “Hiker Town” was a strange little place. Mainly consisting of one house sitting in the center of a plot of land, surrounded by small little movie set type houses. These little houses were for the hikers to sleep in overnight and you could take a shower if you so pleased with a five dollar donation. Later we actually got to meet the guy who bought the land “Hiker Town” sat on and we found out that he was a movie producer at one point in his life, and helped produce and pay for movies as big as “Gone in Sixty Seconds”

After a break in the strange little town we pushed on towards the LA Aqueduct. The Pacific Crest Trail follows this aqueduct for a good bit, as you weave in and out of sand embankments and between two sets of mountains in the distance. Luckily you could see the actual aqueduct pipeline slightly exposed from wind erosion removing the dirt that once hid it from the public view. It made for some fun late afternoon hiking on something other than dirt for a change, and out here every little new thing is a big thing.

Storm Watch on the Divide

Exploring The Pacific Crest Trail: Part I

Miles to Canada
Miles Hiked
Days Hiked
Feet in Elevation

Forester Pass

Forester Pass, California  •  Mile: 750

As we left from Kennedy Meadows and headed north towards the High Sierra, we weren’t really sure on what to expect as we were told the desert was over and the real fun was about to begin.

 It wasn’t that long, before we were witnessing the testimonies come to life right before our very eyes. The distance you could see looking east was immense, and desolate. A world of its own, but for now we were safe, amongst the clouds, high above the world below.

When we reached the top of Forester Pass and came up and over the saddle of the mountains all we saw was snow everywhere.

No real trail in sight, with only some vague signs of where some other hikers had trekked through before us. I was pretty intimidated as we started the descent down to the valley below from a whopping 13,000 feet.

If worrying about sliding off the side of the mountain wasn’t bad enough, the snow was beginning to soften as we walked on top of it along it’s icy surface. At times you would “post hole” meaning your foot would literally fall through the ice until it reached a rock or snow stream below, leaving your feet completely saturated and cold.

We continued on like this for miles and miles before we reached the tree line once again and started our way down through “Kings Canyon” which made it all worth the struggle down the side of the mountain.

Glenn Pass is up next, and I hear it’s just as “fun”. 😁

Top Of Mt. Whitney, 14,505 Feet.

Mt. Whitney, California  •  Mile: 800

The last 4 days have been life changing to say the least, and filled with lots of first time experiences. One of those experiences involves climbing and summiting the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, and sits at a whooping 14,500 feet in elevation.

Not only did we climb this mountain and get to enjoy this very sunset you are looking at. We also decided to spend the night on top of the mountain in a stone hut that was built in 1909, better known as “The Smithsonian Institution Center”.

From here, we have pushed through the Sequoia National Park, started King’s Canyon, and made our way through Forester Pass (more on that adventure in the next post). We also have managed to reach the 780 mile mark, along the way. The mountains have changed me, and I couldn’t be happier as a result of it.


” There was a time in my life where I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I knew exactly what I was doing and where I was headed. I thought I knew how I was treating the surrounding situations in my life, and I thought I was giving it all the proper attention that it deserved. I have come to find out that I was wrong about all those things.

It can be real easy to get caught up on all the wrong things, for what felt like at some point all the right reasons.”

The High Sierras

Kings Canyon National Park, California  •  Mile: 850

The High Sierras have been nothing short of amazing. Everything I ever imagined them being and then some. As we make our way up and down and around the valleys and mountains of the Sierras, I find myself hiking at a much slower pace then before. That could be for a lot of reasons really. Could be that we are now daily, hiking up and down elevation changes in the 6,000ft range. We do that about twice a day if we can keep the stamina up for the challenge.

I find m self at the end of each day falling asleep faster than ever. I don’t want to, because the stars are so bright, I would rather just be able to stay up all night and look at them, but I guess the struggle is real and a hiker needs his rest. haha

Approaching Yosemite is exciting because I have never been to the national park. Now that i think about it, I never really traveled much as a kid as my parents had to work really hard to make sure that me and my brother had all the things we needed growing up. So now I find myself trying to visit and do everything I have missed out on in one hike, during one summer. The audacity of this guy, I tell yah.

I hear that the National Parks are crowded and increasingly hard to get around in. I hope thats not true, but fear it will be. I get to spend around 5 days in the park while I wait on my roommate to meet up with me on the trail for a week or so. On to Lake Tahoe we go.

Top Of Mt. Whitney, 14,505 Feet

Exploring The Pacific Crest Trail: Part I

Miles to Canada
Miles Hiked
Days Hiked
Feet in Elevation

Mammoth Lakes, & Tony Hawk’s House

Mammoth Lakes, California  •  Mile: 930.3

When I started this hike 900 miles ago, I had some thoughts of what I would go through and who I would meet on this journey, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect half the things to happen that have. The places I have seen and the experiences I have been lucky enough to be a part of along the way have been the most eye opening and humbling experiences of my life.

There are a ton of amazing people I have met along the way so far, and each and every one of them have affected my life in some way or another. Everyone, all the way from a irrational alcoholic homeless carpenter speaking of demons to the amazing and helpful individuals who took a chance on three dirty hitchhikers and picked us up on our way back to the trail.

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone I have met along this journey so far, and I also wanted to thank all my family and friends who have supported me along the way with my crazy ambitions! Especially my parents for all their help right now with things that would be impossible with out their help. Your packages and goodies are the highlight of my week and I miss and love you all.

I also want to send out a very special thank you to @tonyhawk for letting me and my hiker buddies crash in your mountain house for the night. A very amazing and extremely kind gesture from a personal ideal of mine growing up. Thanks Tony for the hospitality man, and thanks for ruling at life! Got some pieces coming your way!

I truly look forward to all the people I get to meet along the way while I hike the remainder of the 1,700 miles to Canada. If you happen to see me out and about walking, please feel free to come and say hello! This has felt a lot like a right of passage in both theoretical and literal ways, and I don’t want it to end.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Valley, California  •  Mile: 950

After moving through a majority of the Sierras and reaching the summit of Mt Whitney (the highest summit in the contiguous United States) I found my self in another dream location. Yosemite National Park, or often referred to as “The Valley”.

As we approached the valley and arrived in Tuolumne Meadows which put us at about mile 950 of the @pacificcresttrail Mowgli who I was hiking with at the time, had a tooth abscess and it needed attention right away. So we headed into the valley to get him some help and he ended up having to hitch out to another near by town to get it looked at and fixed eventually.

In the mean time me and Driftwood were hanging in the valley waiting on my roommate Brian to arrive to hike the next section of trail with us. This allowed me the privilege to explore the area a bit and go on some hikes. What an amazing and magical place to be and a place I will never forget. A highlight of my last year for sure. Eventually Mowgli showed back up, fixed and ready to go and off we went.

We made sure Brian was all geared up and ready to go, but unfortuntley later I felt bad because we ended up hiking out of the valley and back to Tuolumne Meadows up the first part of The John Muir Trail. A notoriously difficult and steep hike, really putting my roommate to work on his first day of the trail.

Welcome to the mountains I guess.

The Best Things In Life Are Worth The Struggle

Yosemite Valley, California  •  Mile: 950

The best things in life are worth searching for. I say this as I sit in one of the most beautiful places on earth,Yosemite National Park.

I have had the pleasure of spending a total of five days in the valley, while waiting on my roommate to arrive and hike with us up to Lake Tahoe over the next 10 days. In that time I feel that I have really become somewhat familiar with the valley and as the overwhelmingly beautiful views of the valley start to become somewhat normal, I began to seek out the very thing that the Pacific Crest Trail presents to me every day. Something new, and something exciting.

I have had the pleasure of exploring the valley and have found myself up in the surrounding areas away from the crowds of people, where I have really found myself in awe of the scenery and views that the valley has to offer.

Some of the hikes have been tough and extremely steep in elevation gain but once you get up to the top of the climb, have a seat and allow it all to soak in, every bit of the struggle you just endured washes away immediately.

It’s kinda funny how something as simple as a beautiful view in an amazing place like Yosemite National Park, can somehow seem to wash away all your problems.


Exploring The Pacific Crest Trail: Part II

A photography expedition by Brandon Sharpe