Desert Section

The Desert Section is the first 700 miles starting at the border of Mexico near Campo, CA and ending at Kennedy Meadows. Although it is called the Desert Section (or Southern California Section), the trail runs along the spine of higher altitudes rather than the desert floor. There's still plenty of heat and dry enough to have 20 mile stretches with no water.

The Desert Section is the first 700 miles starting at the border of Mexico near Campo, CA and ending at Kennedy Meadows. Although it is called the Desert Section (or Southern California Section), the trail runs along the spine of higher altitudes rather than the desert floor. There's still plenty of heat and dry enough to have 20 mile stretches with no water.

At about mile 180, the trail passes just west of San Jacinto Mountain just before dropping to the valley by Interstate 10. San Jacinto Peak is not part of the official PCT, but people often summit it along the way. In just a short amount of miles, the elevation from the top of San Jacinto Peak (10,833') quickly drops to 1,800'  before crossing I10 and back up towards Big Bear. 

For approximately 250 miles, the trail stretches westward along the Transverse Mountain range. A little before mile 400, Mount Baden-Powell (9,406') is another significant landmark for hikers. At mile 500, hikers walk descend to the valley  and cross the western most area of the Mojave Desert for approximately 20-30 miles before reascending near Tehachapi. 

At the end of the 700 mile stretch, Kennedy Meadows becomes a well earned landmark and achievement for thru-hikers. It marks the completion of the first section along the PCT and is the start of the Sierras. Several hikers ship themselves additional equipment (micro-spikes, ice axe, extra cold/snow gear, and a bear canister) to accommodate for the icy passes. Water becomes readily abundant starting at Kennedy Meadows, which is another major relief for thru-hikers.

Environment near PCT among Santa Rosa Mountains above Palm Desert. 

A weekend trip in the San Jacinto Park with an old friend years ago...looking forward to returning soon.