TOUCHING THE BORDER
PCT DAY 1: Mile 0 (Campo ) – Mile 20 (Lake Morena)
Thursday – April 14, 2016: 20 miles (32km)
Sleeping in a tree house, it was magical to wake up through the night and look up through the skylight and see the starts through the tree canopy. Shame we only got to spend one night here. We woke before the alarm this morning, eager to get going. Our lift was leaving at 6am sharp after a delicious breakfast of mushroom frittata, muffins, fruit and coffee. Amazing hospitality from Scout and Frodo and their team of helpers. And they did not want to be paid for anything.
We got a ride to the start of the hike at the southern terminus, which is right on the Mexican border, with a lovely couple Jan and Jim. Jim is a retired oceanographer from Scripps Oceanographic Institute and Jan volunteers with the PCT Association. Beautiful people, what a great country.
We got to the start around 7am and after the obligatory photographs and goodbyes, we were off. Hammer and I were the only ones who took the time to walk down a bit and actually touch the fence and peer into Mexico. Security is doubly tight here. Lou-Seal did not make an appearance as she did not have her permit to hike.
And so we were off. It was perfect hiking conditions. Sunny but cool with lots of dew on the vegetation. Surprising our bodies clicked straight into hiking mode even though both of us were weighed down with heavy packs carrying 6L of water each. My pack was 15.5kg and Hammer was 19.5kg. Not to mention the extra 5kg around the hips and waist.
The desert so far is so not what I expected. The landscape is surprisingly green with lots of spring blooms everywhere. It is also not flat but quite hilly. We hiked mostly on our own stopping a few times to rest in the shade. The buzzing of border patrol helicopters was pretty much constant throughout the day.
The walking was relatively easy for the first 15miles to Houser Creek. It looked like a lovely camping spot. The creek was bone dry. From here the trail goes straight up for 3 miles and then a slow winding descent to Lake Morena. Hammer struggled a bit over the last 3 miles, suffering a bit of a sugar low, perhaps. We got to Lake Morena, 9 hours after we started from the Mexican border. Overall pretty happy with how we felt.
We are camped by Lake Morena in the official campground. The sun has gone down and it is getting really cold. I am cosy in my sleeping bag, typing away on my phone while the chatter of other hikers camped nearby is slowly subsiding. The sound of the border patrol helicopters, as they sweep over us, is thundering. I hope they ease up a bit through the night.