When I arrived in the San Diego airport, I felt a sense of major accomplishment. Once I had my gear collected from the baggage carousel, and saw that it was in good shape, I was relieved. The next few hours entailed sorting, rethinking, and walking a few miles to get fuel and dinner. (There’s something quite special about being able to get In-N-Out Burger for someone from New York.) Once back to the hotel, I was able to do some research and relax for a few hours.
At six, the alarm went off. There was a final scramble to get out before eight. I decided to grab a ride to the transit center, as I hoped to preserve my legs for some additional trail miles.
The bus ride was quite calm. I finished reading a book which will surely give me some motivation for this trip. I enjoyed chatting with the guy next to me very much. He’s from Portland and brews beer. We both commented on how strange it felt to be heading towards the trail. Once we passed a town about an hour into the ride, the only people left on the bus were seven male hikers.
After arriving to Campo, I stopped by the post office to ship some bags and random items home. From there, I road-walked over a mile to the Southern Terminus. Once there, a friendly host greeted me and checked on a few things. After a few photographs, I officially set foot on the Pacific Crest Trail.
There’s something surreal in being at a location that you’ve seen only in photographs. I can vividly remember seeing the Eiffel Tower at the age of nineteen from the window of the subway car as we emerged from a tunnel. Today felt similar. Seeing the trail monument alongside the Mexican border will forever be a crisp image in my mind.
On day one of the PCT, I hiked to mile marker 11.4. Combined with the road walk, my first day entailed approximately 13 miles of hiking. I originally thought I’d aim for a total of 8-10 miles. I adjusted based on the time and my legs. They felt good. It was only as I got to my campsite that I recognized that stopping a few miles earlier might have been better. It’s a good thing that Advil PM exists.
As I’m resting in my tent with rain falling down, I recognized that the adjustments I made along the way are an important part of acclimating to these surroundings.
When I’m home, I turn on the faucet for water. Here, I filter water from the stream.
When I’m home, my bed is permanently ready to go. Here, I have to inflate it each night.
When I’m home, my refrigerator and stove function without much thought process. Here, I carry my food and boil water on my stove which rested on a rock.
When I’m home, the bathroom is always available. Here, nope.
It all felt magical and surreal today. There’s something quite special about the start of any long journey. I look forward to making the necessary adjustments along the way as needed.
I’m sure that frame of mind will come in handy sooner than later. The weather forecast calls for rain and possibly snow for the next few days.