Sunday, May 1, 2016

Day 1 : Lake Morena

Day 1
2,642.79 miles to go

Awake before the sun. We shuffle around in the dark. Ssssssssssh goes an air matress. Nylon swishing against nylon. Grunts and groans we arise from our goose down cocoons and brave the somewhat chilly morning. San Diego can never really be considered chilly. In contrast to the fluffy warmth of my bag it is. We stumble our way inside to the smell of brewing coffee. Wow, there is Frodo making the umpteenth breakfast for PCT thru-hikers. Scout is slicing fresh pineapple. The smell of cinnamon mingles with coffee. All is right with the world. For the last time in who knows how long this group of excited Thru-hikers sits in comfy chairs in clean clothes inside around a table. Things are about to get dirty.
In a caravan of cars as we watch the sunrise through the early morning mist. It seems like no time at all before we are standing around the southern terminus of the PCT. Is this even real? I've dreamt of this, it was different. I don't remember this smell in my dream. Wildflowers blooming, grasses and chapparal. The smells of the wild desert, the smell of freedom. We stand around and take pictures of each other for a while until in ones and twos hikers begin to leave. The monument stands alone on its ridge: a symbol of forward thinking people who worked and continue to work to keep this national treasure called the Pacific Crest Trail.
Finally it's my turn and I don my pack and amble down the trail towards Campo. The mist is slowly burning of the temperature is a comfortable low seventies. The trail is the trail, familiar as always. I looked at Scout and Frodo's photo albums from their thru-hike. The trail looks the same today is it did in their pictures. It evolves, re-routes, burns, etc mark their mark, but the trail remains its essence remains for us the present day hikers.
Hauser canyon, the toughest part of today's hike is fifteen hundred feet down and then fifteen hundred feet back up. It's amazing how you start with a bunch of people and before you know it your alone traveling your own speed on a long thin ribbon of trail alone with your own thoughts, the wind, the sun. The loudest noise is your feet hitting the ground. The sky is clear and blue with a few puffy white clouds to the north. Before you can say ‘Bobs your uncle’ here's the canyon. Down, down, down the air changes from the comfortable breezy seventies  to stultifying, dead, hot as Hades at the bottom. The only thing to be said for being at the bottom is that you're at the bottom. I much prefer going up to going down. It seems more difficult and tough on my body to go down a trail. I am always happy when the down stops. The only other thing to be said for being at the bottom - okay, there are two things to be said. Trees. There are trees. Under the trees are Thru-hikers in slovenly heaps. Dirty feet waving in the insipid atmosphere. Producing a distinct miasma funk with a sharp odor similar to that put off by some of your finer European cheeses. I choose to move on. Why sit down in that unhealthy haze drinking precious water when I could be up in the clean air at the top. So I climb. 
Just over the ridge I arrive at Lake Morena. In time for a warmish shower. Warmish means thirty seconds of warm water followed by three and a half minutes of cold water. Just enough warm water to get lathered up… except that I don't have soap. So no lather. I hop out of the cold stream of water and rinse my socks. Standing naked in a cold concrete shower stall, I begin to shiver uncontrollably. All for the low low price on fifty cents. I use my pack towel to get mostly dry then dress and sit in the sun. In a few minutes I am warm and comfortable. And cleaner than I was. Most everyone that I started with is here tonight. I cook dinner sitting on a rock with my new friends watching the sunset.


  1. Vivian says "You need to put some yummy cream in your coffee. And you need cherries and fruit! I like that sunset. It's pretty. You need soap and a nice warm shower, grandaddy. And you need a towel. Have fun and miss you!"