I leave in one week! There will be a group of us starting on April 3 from the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. It is located at the border fence with Mexico in Campo, California. My group has mostly committed to stay together for the first three weeks. Wherever we are on April 24 we will be picked up by my friend, Chris, and driven back to Mile 20. There, at Lake Morena, is where the annual Kickoff party happens. The weekend event is organized to bring together the current year’s group of hikers with past hikers and others with information to share. There will be wilderness medicine specialists, people skilled with backcountry navigation, equipment vendors and others to help make us successful at what is ahead. Think podiatrists! Most people start their hike after this annual event but because of the low snow year our group has decided to leave three weeks earlier. It’s a gamble but even with only 30% of normal Sierra snowpack we don’t want to get to the Sierra Nevada Mountains (mile 702) before much of the snow has melted. It isn’t only snow that makes the Sierra hazardous. It is the high water crossings.
There is something called “trail magic” that occurs in random forms of kindness along the trail. Our first dose actually will greet us the day before we start. There are Trail Angels, Scout and Frodo, who live in San Diego. Over a period of about six weeks if you contact them ahead of time they pick you up from the airport, train station or bus station and take you to their home. They feed you dinner and let you spend the night. The next morning, depending on how many people are at their home, they and a group of neighbors transport everyone to the trailhead. Scout is the chairman of the board of the Pacific Crest Trail Association and is a retired attorney. This is his way of giving back. They do this every day as long as requested! No money is accepted and they say if you want to pay them, just donate to the PCTA. We will spend April 2 with them! I did send them some wine as a gesture in return.
My group has mostly committed to staying together for the first three weeks. After the Kickoff event we will be driven back to where we left the trail and continue north. We expect to be at least to mile 266. Our plan is to hike relatively low miles per day early on then ramp up as we are stronger. I will be with some very seasoned hikers. Why Not and Grasshopper recently returned from six weeks of hiking in Patagonia. Why Not has hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and the Arizona Trail. Halfmile, and his girlfriend, Deb, met on the PCT and have been together since. He is the genius behind the Halfmile maps that most hikers will rely on. There are half mile waypoints the entire 2663 miles of the trail. Jason, is a good friend that will hike the first three weeks and has been busy dehydrating dinners for he and I. At least a third of the day I know that I will eat well! He is a retired research chemist and needed a project. Thank you, Jason! There are others you will meet later.
Today I mailed food to the first three resupply locations. Two more will be mailed the day I leave my cushy home. My son, Jeff, will take care of the house and my dog, Ruby. It’s a shame she can’t go but seven hundred miles of the desert is not very hospitable to dogs.
I have planned and trained and feel ready to go. Of course there are things that I feel a bit anxious about but I will deal with them when they arise. Most of the things people fear never materialize and I won’t waste my time now. Excitement feels better!