IN A TREE HOUSE
PCT Day -1: San Diego April 13, 2016
I did not sleep so well through the night. Late last night while tidying up last minute matters I discovered some unauthorised transactions on my bank account, from Eastern Europe. I had not used this debit card since arriving in the US so the breach in security was sometime during our travels in Aus. It took a little while to get onto my bank in Australia and the end result is that my card has been cancelled and the fraudulent activity will be investigated. A new card won’t be issued until we return home. Not a good thing to have weighing on your mind when you are about to head into the desert and won’t have regular phone connections. But luckily the bank has been very helpful and we do have a backup, so we won’t starve.
The last minute emergency did not allow me wollow in my nervousness about our preparedness for the hike. For the past four weeks, since the Six Foot Track Ultramarathon, we have transitioned into full-time couch potatoes, eating too much of all the wrong foods and drinking way too much beer. The marathon running, trail ready hikers we were after our trip to Tasmania and Victoria seem like distant cousins now. We have put on a fair bit of spare weight for any emergency on the trail. The enormity and diversity of the whole trail is intimidating. But just like a marathon, it helps to break it down. It helped me to think about it as a series of 27 multi-day hikes strung together. That doesn’t sound so bad?
The Pacific Crest Trail is a continous path from Mexico to Canada. It is about 2,650 miles or 4,265 kilometres long and passes through California, Oregon, and Washington in western United States. It traverses the desert in Southern California, glaciated mountain peaks and forests of the Sierra Nevada and volcanic peaks in the Cascade Range through northern California, Oregon and Washington.
Seven years ago I walked the 800km (495mile) Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. I remember a young Korean fellow I walked with who said that the first third of the hike is physical, the second third is mental and the last third is spiritual. And so it was for me, sort of, just not sequential. I experienced the physical challenge of hiking daily in all sorts of weather and the questioning of my sanity when the brain is screaming for you to stop. But slowly I experienced a kind of spiritual transendence of body and mind where everything clicked and I felt like I could go on forever. That is what makes it all worthwhile and then there is the stunning landcape.
And so we head off to the start. We were picked up from the airport by trail legends Scout and Frodo, who live in San Diego. Every year they help hundreds of hikers with all the logistics of last minute preparedness. They have graciously opened their home to hikers. And they will take us out to the trailhead tomorrow morning. Today must be a big day, 10 people were staying with them already and 24 (including us) arriving today. An exercise in stamina and logistics. Not all will be leaving on the trail tomorrow.
We were lucky to score the tree house for our accomodation overnight. Trail magic has already begun. Ready or not, here we go.