Some ramblings from a Best Western motel at I-15 Cajon Pass, trail mile 341.
Food I've been eating on trail: Idahoan Potatos, Knorr Rice, Ramen Noodles, Tuna, Spam, Jerky, Snickers, Cliff Bars, Bobo's Oat Bars, Nutter Butters, Peanut Butter, Instant Oatmeal, Carnation Instant Breakfast, Emergen C, Electrolyte Power Pak, bars, more bars.
Daily routine: On trail by 7AM, walk, walk, more walking, several 15-30 min breaks in the shade, some more walking, usually make camp by 6PM.
Daily mileage is usually 18-20, longest day has been 27, shortest day has been 9.
Favorite things about the desert: mornings from 6AM-9AM, the lush plants/trees along creeks, the hummingbirds, the manzanita, the woodpeckers, the stillness.
While there are more thru-hikers this year than in any prior year (over 2,000) you can always find solitude on the trail. I commonly go 10 miles without seeing anyone. I have also been fortunate to be in a bit of a "bubble" for most of the hike, with a lot of hikers in front and behind me.
Just like the 24-hour news cycle in everyday life, the trail has a lot of noise which needs to be blocked out. Hikers love to talk/worry about water availability, heat, snakes, poison oak, tough hitches into town, mileage, injury, wind, rain, snow, falling behind, going too fast, gear, the number of people hiking the trail, etc. A lot of the noise comes from online forums, from people not even hiking the trail.
HYOH stands for Hike Your Own Hike, which is a term used on trail. For me the most important part of HYOH is blocking out the noise.
There are all types of great people on trail. Some have quit a good paying job to do the trail, some are retired, some are taking a semester off, some are broke, some are wealthy, all have a refreshing outlook on life (except maybe at 3PM on a hot climb)
The desert is long, roughly 700 miles of trail until the start of the Sierras. The desert is beautiful. The desert is bleak and burned. The desert is lush and full of life. The desert is different everyday.
There is no better entertainment than watching pudgy patrons stare at smelly hikers at a McDonalds off the interstate highway.
The hike hasn't really even started yet.