What’s Left Behind
Day 1Mileage: 17.4
Total distance: 17.4
Camp is under a manzanita tree on top of some soft soil right off the trail. It’s 9:15 pm when I finally decide I’ve had enough for the day and pull off to set things up. It has been an insanely long day and I’m dying to shut my eyes, but feel guilty for not taking a moment to write something. Considering so much has happened in the past twenty four hours.
At 4:30 am I woke up to pee and looked up at the moon when I stepped outside and took a moment to appreciate the comfort of a bed and a home and warmth and relaxation. I knew that in a few hours I would be stripped of luxury and would be finding ways to convince myself that I’m happy and doing what I love, while feeling alone, afraid and exhausted. I peed for a long time.
At 7:30 am my alarm went off and I felt extremely apathetic. I didn’t want to think that I was leaving this home and my girlfriend and all that life has become for me in the past nine months, but this feeling was short lived. Molly and I got our things together in a blast and before I knew it were headed to the airport. Leaving her at that airport will be etched into my memory and those last few moments with her I will hold onto for the many lonely nights to come.
At 11:30 am I landed in San Diego and was greeted by a friend’s sister and her extremely invasive labrador-golden retriever mix. This dog jumped right into the front seat with me and concealed my vision for nearly the entire trip, but at least I don’t have allergies. I took my terminus pictures and said my goodbyes to the couple after a few jokes about walking to Canada, of course.
I started hiking at 1:45 pm, but there are literally a million different trails right at the trailhead with zero signs saying which is the pct. So immediately off the bat, I can’t figure out where to go. After walking in a small circle a car drives by and I embarrassingly ask the driver where to go and he responds, “Are you kidding? Mexico is right there. Go the other way”. His sarcasm was unappreciated and my ego was shot in every way. He offered to get out and point to the path, but while he drove to park I ran away in shame and thankfully found the trail. Not off to the best start.
- An encouraging sign early in the day.
Things felt good for most of the day. The wildlife was insane. I saw a hawk (red shoulder?) and a raven fighting, tons of lizards like western fence lizards and alligator lizards, a garter snake that scared the piss out of me (not looking forward to a rattler), a skunk that didn’t give a damn about me, rabbits and a ton of ground squirrels. I mean like a million ground squirrels. So many ground squirrels if I wanted to I could have punted one into the air.
I had planned to hike to a small creek 15 miles in, but the creek was dry and I was met by two cracked out women who asked me to stay with them for the night because they were scared and had left their tents three miles behind while they searched for water. Nothing like meeting people on the trail. After I kindly declined their offer I bolted down a side road that promised water, but what they considered a water source 2 miles off trail was a stagnate bog with weird insects and algae living in it. The forest was drenched in oils from poison oak and I probably looked like a drunk frog dodging the obstacles in pursuit of my water. So I drank two liters of that and we’ll see what happens. I started feeling low and sad and lonely so I tuned into some podcasts and tried to hype myself up for the adventure. I blasted through four miles in search of signal to call Molly, but to no avail. It is now 10:30 pm and after patching up my freshly popped new pad, I’m going to sleep and remember that thru-hiking is a constant lesson and you must be brought low to stand on the mountains.
- My makeshift spoon because I left mine.
Thought of the day:
I wonder how much it costs to keep the helicopters in the air all day patrolling the boarder.