Saturday, April 30, 2016

Day 0 : Hawaii night

Awake at 4:30 am! Time to get up? Nah… I lay about for fifteen minutes. Ok, now I can get up. It's amazing that I was able to get up this early for the last nine months. Now I've lost interest in getting up this early. Even on Zero day. Today is Zero day because tomorrow is my first day hiking. This is the day that everything changes. 

Kelli stops at Starbucks for me as we head to the airport in the predawn twilight. Venti Mocha! Yea! That divine mixture of chocolate, coffee, and steamed milk. Don't know when I'll get another one… Maybe tomorrow? We drive and chat amiably about our day. The light conversation about our plans and tasks belie the underlying sadness and sense of loss we are both experiencing. Keep the tears in till later. Bittersweet, excited about the new adventure, sad that it'll be a awhile till we see and touch each other again. 
Follow the herd. Obey the instructions. Stand in line. Then stand in line again, and again. Security checkpoint for those poor shlubs that don't have TSA-PRE on their boarding pass. I mistakenly assume I am a shlub. When I get to the front of the line, thirty minute later the agent directs me to the no line line. “You're not a shlub,” she said. Actually she said, “you are TSA-PRE screened. Go over there, you won't have to remove your shoes and it'll be faster.” I didn't, it was. Would have been even faster if I'd read my boarding pass.

I fashioned my own man-purse, murse, from a stuff sack and a mini-carabiner. This was useful in getting through the security checkpoint because I could empty my pockets into it and drop it on the x-ray machines conveyor rather than emptying my pockets into one of this bowls like the principal used to have in grade school. “Okay, boys, empty your pockets.” Looking for contraband like gum and the rubber bands we'd shoot at the back of the kids heads sitting in front of us in class. The murse bypasses that experience with the TSA officer. You can sling it over you shoulder like a fashionable lady. Although it's a bit short on fashion. For fashion you need to have an executive carry-all. This isn't that. This is purely a utilitarian accessory that requires one to be comfortable with their masculinity.

Arrive in The drizzle in San Diego and find the H stop where the trail angels said to meet. While I wait a guy walks up with a backpack wrapped in plastic. I meet Zolt, a guy about my age who has three weeks to hike the PCT before work wants him back. We stand in the drizzle and chat while we wait. He’s planning to hike to Big Bear so we should be on the same trail for a few weeks. Our ride shows up sporting a yellow Pom Pom which is our signal to climb aboard. We meet Frodo and nom nom who give us a tour of the San Diego airport access road while we drive to pick up Erica. Nom nom is volunteering at Scout and Frodo’s place. 

Hawaiian night! Only one all season and I am here for it. Before that though there are chores. To the Post Office to ship my duffle bag and murse home. Well technically it's no longer a murse. I removed the mini carabiner. Now it's just an extra unnecessary stuff sack. It's been fun hanging out with other hikers. They all have them same story as me. They live with a circle of friends. None of which have an interest in long trail thru-hiking. Here we all are together. It's like a family reunion. Like we have a common heritage that we didn't know existed. Scout and Frodo are our hosts. They are also thru-hikers. They host hundreds of hikers every year. They have coordinated rides for about thirty of us tomorrow.

Hawaiian night means decorations, and food, and Hawaiian shirts. We had lots of food and fun. I have met lots of hikers and learned lots of names. Too many to remember them all right now..
We have to be up and ready to go by five thirty tomorrow. The adventure begins!

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