Years ago on the Appalachian Trail, my second day out was the coldest, hardest, and most miserable day in my life. Just because the PCT has another name doesn't seem to make any difference - the second day still sucks.
I wouldn't go as far to say it was the worst in my life, actually most of it was great. Last night, we slept in the tent without a tarp so we could look up into the sky. There's not much moisture in the desert (for better or for worse) so we didn't need to worry about rain or dew. We slept soundly from 9 until 6am this morning. We got up and ate some breakfast and were on our way by 7:15. The weather was beautiful. Sunny and cool with a nice breeze, and the terrain was, again, like nothing we have really seen. It reminded us of the Whites in New Hampshire just because of the sheer size of all the mountains around us.
This first 11 miles were smooth sailing. We passed some nice people, and caught up to Zander's friend (Zander is Andy's friend from college) and as the sun was peaking around noon, we stopped at a nice water source to re-hydrated and wait a couple hours, until it started cooling down rather than get hotter. As the shade ran out because of the moving sun, we headed out 2PM. We soon realized that was still peak heat time. Not only that, but we had a huge 1200-foot climb. It was only 5 miles to where we would be staying, but that took us much longer than we had anticipated.
With the sun burning our skin (unfortunately, mostly my skin) and the bugs swarming (I have 12 bites just on one arm, while Dave has none) -- we trucked on. First, it was the climb that got us tired, then the heat wearing us thin, then the lack of copious amounts of water. Soon we were all very unhappy. The gap between us all started growing, as some had to break more than others, until we were basically hiking by ourselves. All there was to walk through was sand, sun, and incline.
I got in around 20 minutes after Andy, and Dave got in about 40 minutes after me. We were all hurting, tired, and out of it. Luckily there was a small general store nearby, so we were able to get some Gatorade, snacks, and other cold drinks. We set up camp, began to relax, and get back to being real people. We are all packed away in our tents, and tomorrow we will be hiking a little less, so with a slightly earlier start will be able to be finished by the time peak heat arrives.
First real hiking day onto PCT, and we once again realized: the trail will kick our asses way before we kick the trail's.