Yesterday I was in San Diego eating, drinking, and catching up with an old friend. Now it’s 7am and I’m driving down to the border in my friends pickup. The wind is howling and trying to steer the car, but I barely notice as I’m lost in thought. The last few days have been surreal and it still hasn’t settled in what I’m about to do.
We get to the border and the wind is still gusting. A short walk up a hill and we’re at the terminus. I pose for some of the required “dazed pct hiker at the monument” pictures. My friend heads back to his car. I’m about to head off, but then I think “uhm, where the hell is the trail.” There are four different dirt roads and none look like trails. I’m forced to get out my map and look and I haven’t even started!
The trail after that is much better marked and I start running up the miles. I run into some of my first fellow thru hikers. We chat for a bit and I learn they are two sisters who recently quit their jobs of 17 years and shaved their heads to do the pct. I hike with them for a bit until they (wisely) take a break from the heat before we head up a big climb. I go a little further to stop in the valley before I go up, but there’s no wind here and it is uncomfortably hot. I decide to head up the hill in the peak afternoon heat. Luckily, I am greeted by a nice breeze. At the top I find a slice of shade and pull off to change my socks and examine the fine grit that has made it past my dirty girl gaiters.
Five miles later, I’m at the Lake Morena campground setting up camp. I meet some more hikers in our “special” pct campsite. We find out the little store is still open in town and grab some beers and ice cream.
After the long hot day and a few evening chores, I get in my sleeping bag and think about the day and what lies ahead. I’m still not sure it’s sunk in that I’m on the pct. I drift off to sleep under a full moon at the late hour of eight o’clock, excited for what the next day will bring.