BY RUTH LEPPER
CALIFORNIA — Dave Inglett walked 566 miles to finish the first leg of his four-year plan to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. He started the 2,650-mile trek in June at the US/Mexico border in Campo, Calif., a few miles south of San Diego.
Seven weeks later, Inglett reached his destination in the Mojave Desert where he was met by his daughter and her mother for the drive back home to Harlingen.
He will be returning next year to pick up the trail in Mojave. His long-term plan is to walk two months each summer until arriving in Canada in 2019.
The Pacific Crest Trail goes from border to border, traveling through California, Oregon and Washington.
Inglett is a resident of Harlingen where he is a fourth-grade teacher.
When he’s back in the classroom, there may be a new twist to the question, “What did you do on your summer vacation?”
Inglett was a solo hiker, although he met many others along the way. They often hiked together for awhile but no one held the other back. Each one walked at their own speed. Inglett’s goal was to cover 15 miles a day.
He also met “Trail Angels” along the way, volunteers who open their hearts and homes to the hikers. They may offer the hikers a place to stay or a ride into the next town.
This came in handy when hiking in steep terrain such as on the way up to Big Bear, a mountain community that reaches an elevation of 6,752 feet.
Altitudes varied from desert floors to mountain tops. Temperatures ranged from 45 degrees at Lake Moreno in San Diego County to 110 degrees in the Anza-Borrego Desert, located east of San Diego where it often reaches three-digit temperatures in the summertime.
When he neared the top of Cajon Pass, Inglett took a day off to visit with his friend, Don Hartzler, of Barstow, Calif. Inglett lived nearby in Apple Valley from 1988 to 1992 when he was a flight instructor at a local airport.
The two men went for a spin over the High Desert before settling in for a visit and comfortable night — somewhere not alongside the trail.
Inglett’s typical day on the trail started out about 6 a.m. He hiked for four hours, covering an average of 10 miles before resting for the next six hours.
He would look for a place in the shade and rest or nap before starting out again. He hiked another six hours in the cooler part of the day before settling down for the night.
It may have been a wide spot on the trail or under a large rock where he set up camp.
He carried a change of clothes, hiking boots, water, food, utensils, and the most important item in his backpack — a poncho.
His pack weighed in at 40 pounds, a little heavier than the average weight of 30 pounds that most hikers carried on the trail.
His poncho served multiple purposes: ground cover or blanket, to provide shade and, of course, came in handy in the event of rain.
Food and water comprised the heaviest items in his backpack. Boxes of supplies prepared ahead of time were mailed to him by his daughter.
The boxes would be waiting for him at post offices in towns along the way.
His menu consisted of quite a few protein bars for meals and snacks.
Any trash incurred while preparing meals had to be carried with him until arriving at a campground or somewhere with trash receptacles.
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