The day finally came and I got my flight!
The flight to San Diego is long. I watched a few films to pass the time:
Gone Girl – it was terrible, the main actress was terrible, the story was terrible, the ending was terrible.
The Imitation Game – the one about Alan Turing. Absolutely amazing. Inspirational story that isn’t well known enough. Everybody should watch this.
The Theory of Everything – don’t watch this if you’re feeling a bit emotional, like I was! I sobbed through the whole second half. Stephen Hawking and the people around him are incredible and Eddy Redmayne deserved that Oscar!
Customs was fairly painless, it took about an hour to get through. “Hello ma’m, what’s the purpose of your visit to the United States?” “I want to hike the PCT” “Oh that’s tough, did you see that film Wild?” “Yes, yes I did.” 6 months granted – more than enough time to walk to Canada!
Scout came to pick me up – with the yellow pompom hanging from his car (too dark for a picture). By the time we got to the house I had been awake for around 24hours, I warned Kelly (the lady I was sharing a room with) that I may pass out and snore. What I didn’t tell her is that I might talk in my sleep. She told me in the morning that I shouted “you’ve got to get out of this house” and I was quite insistent. Whoops. Sorry about that! I may have earned a trail name – sleeptalker – let’s see if it sticks!
Scout and Frodo are as amazing as their reputation. Their house is beautiful. They run things with military precision, yet you are free to roam. They are hosting around 320 hikers over 6ish weeks at the same time as preparing for their own thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail in just 2 weeks time! They also have a great network of people who help with airport pick-ups, cooking, trips to REI and rides to the trailhead.
You get amazing food – breakfast, lunch, dinner AND snacks! I have gotten used to eating so well here (better than I do at home!) so I’m not really looking forward to eating my instant mashed potatoes.
They have everything you need – knowledge, stories, fuel, ziplock bags, post boxes, snacks, a post office and two supermarkets just 10 mins walk away, hiker boxes full of things people have ditched when they realise how heavy their packs are! I could have easily created a first aid kit and hygiene kit from the hiker boxes, plus my first few days of food if I had needed to.
Over the last three days I have been mainly lounging and enjoying the beautiful weather. But I have also been buying food (and an awesome hat!), posting boxes and meeting other hikers – so many lovely, diverse, cool, crazy, friendly, odd people! I have been in the minority so far – lots of Americans (of course) from all over America, lots of Aussies, a few Germans, a few Canadians. Young through to old, section hikers, thru hikers, triple crowners…
The jet lag was a bit of a killer, so I’m glad I had a few days to relax and sort myself out. I haven’t quite caught up yet, I wake at 3am most mornings and my stomach rumbles at 4am but I’m getting there. The only downside to being here so long is that you make friends with people and then you have to watch them leave without you, not knowing if you’ll ever see them again.
I am completely ready to walk, but I also don’t want to leave. I can’t remember the last time I felt this relaxed – which is odd considering what lies ahead! The day’s hikers leave early in a bundle of nerves and excitement, after they have gone everything is really calm. The only sounds are the birds and the rustling of leaves. New hikers dribble in through the day and the excitement builds as you find out about them, discuss kit, discuss plans and make up new words (why would you call it a pee rag when you can call it a vajankie™!). The last three days have been brilliant. Yeah, I could live here forever.
Each morning I have been getting up with all the other hikers – breakfast at 5.30am – there is such a buzz in the morning! Tomorrow it’s my turn, at 6am I will be loading my 37lb / 17kg pack (including 6l of water and 2/3 days of food) into a car and we will be making the 75 minute journey to Campo.
It is getting hot. Really hot. I hope I make it to Lake Morena. I hope I don’t burn. I hope I don’t run out of water. I hope I don’t break anything. I hope I meet some of my new friends.
I hope it’s everything I want it to be, and more. It has been so far…