I feel a bit like royalty out here.
My nights at Scout and Frodo’s were highlighted with a Celtic fiddle player, and one of the San Diego adventure stores shouting us a party – free pizza, wine, beer, popcorn, raffles, PCT movies and pros all out to swap stories and give tips and information.
Then came D Day.
When we reached the Southern Terminus, we were greeted by people just here to encourage us.
One of them was Halfmile: the guy who created the most trusty app and maps people use. He app is amazing and worth the hype – for example, if you wander off the trail to pee real quick and then [somehow] lose your bearings, it literally tells you you’re 30 feet away and points you back in the direction you need to go. Plus more. And it’s free. The guy is a legend – it was an honour to meet him.
Another was Ian, who was there taking dome pretty professional portraits of hikers. He’s got all our contact info, and is planning on camping out at the other end in a few months time to capture the hikers who make it the whole way – priceless! And so selfless!
I spent some time with Kate, who works with Outdoor Magazine. She’s all but promised me I’m going to be famous (not really but kinda). She was there interviewing hikers, and doing a piece on following them throughout the journey – so will try and meet up with us at different points, and then be waiting at the end as well. She took links for people’s social media (ie. this blog, and my Patreon site), and then because we were just having fun and hanging out, she and Ian got some photos of me with the uke and followed me to take some photos at MILE 0 – touching the wall!
It. Was. Hot.
Admittedly, I was probably a little cocky. Having been living in a seemingly endless summer in Lennox Head, Australia, I figured I’d be fine with a 35’C/100’F day to start off. But 35’C is a lot hotter in the desert than it is when you’re splashing around the ocean.
And my 20kg/44lb pack didn’t help.
Don’t stress – my pack won’t always weigh that much. Just started off that way, because it included 7.5L of water. But, also, I have a few non-necessities that I thought I’d bring. Everything seems better when I have gold nail polish on 🤩
Mile 1 was fairly easy, as I was still on the ‘newly famous’ high and bouncing around.
It didn’t take too long for the heat to kick in and me to slow down though.
The only shadows for kilometres at a time were the ones my own body made.
No surprise that when I found shade, I stopped.
The views were pretty stellar, but I’m guessing this won’t come close to what I’ll get further on, like in the sequoias or Yosemite.
Regardless of the unforgiving heat, I like that this desert stretch is a part of it. I’m seeing one whole side of this country, boring, dirty parts and all.
The dirt here seems to seep into your pores, and back out again.
Contrary to how it may appear, I did not roll around in any mud. The black smears of dust and dirt are from walking. Just walking.
The first wet wipe was just from my hands. The photo doesn’t even do it justice.
It took a half dozen and more to scrub from my face all the way down to my toes. Wet wipes were one of the ‘non-necessities’ to most people, and dead weight in a pack, but there were definitely a few envious faces glancing at my grime-less legs.
A quick idea of what camp looks like is tents strewn across dirt and sparse grass where we could find room, and weary travellers strewn in amongst them.
I originally thought I’d just want the fly (top cover) of the tent on – and that’s what the pictures show, but I ended up setting up the inner tent too, when monstrous mozzies came out later.
Dinner was two minute noodles.
And then wine.
Of course I carried wine.
Had to celebrate first night on the trail, right?
I shared a little, I promise.