We made it to the trail! We’re taking a break at MP 5. It’s a beatiful day, not too hot. It’s hard to make myself take breaks, so I thought while I had service I would let you all know things are going great!
Post Trail Edit: Getting There
This should be it’s own post, but I don’t know how to insert new posts into the middle of the blog, if that’s even possible, sooo
My friend Chris agreed to come see me off at the start and then drive my car back home. I’ll figure out how to get home from Canada when I get there. Maybe Chris will bring my car up to Canada and pick me up.
We were supposed to leave Saturday at ten, but Chris was late. Like really late. But it was a nice day, so I just hung out on the porch in the sunshine with my cat. A bunch of my friends came by to see me off and so we all hung out and I wasn’t as bored and restless as I would have been otherwise. We finally left around noon.
My uncle drove my cousin up from the Bay Area and we met in Williams to pick him up. From there we drove to my friend Kathy’s house outside Nevada City and got there about six.
We started drinking beer and I exploded David’s backpack on Kathy’s picnic table to see what he was carrying. I removed some items from his pack, like two giant rolls of toilet paper and a huge bar of soap in one of those plastic boxes that people take camping, and a bunch of other stuff. His sleeping pad is better suited for car camping (big inflatable thermarest), so we will have to pick up something lighter on our way south tomorrow. He also needs some backpacking dinners.
Our plan for tomorrow is to drive over Donner Pass to Reno, then take 395 south down to 15 and work our way down to San Diego and then over to a little town called Alpine to stay for the night. There is a storm coming in tomorrow morning with a chance of snow. I have tire chains, even though the owners manual says not to use them. Maybe we can beat it.
Kathy made a wonderful dinner for us all, of which I ate very little, and we stayed up really late partying and talking trail, trying to explain to David what to expect. He’s never gone backpacking before. I think it was after 0100 by the time I got to sleep. Maybe 0200.
I woke up around 0700 to some light rain and leaped out of bed. No! No snow! I woke everybody up and started packing up. Kathy wanted to cook us breakfast, but I was too worried about getting over Donner Summit, which turned out to be the right decision. I’m not big on breakfast anyway. We left by 0800.
Not far out of town the rain turned to snow and I was very concerned. But it was a sleepy Sunday morning with almost no traffic. I didn’t see any plows or chain controls in place, so we kept going. I’m pretty experienced driving in the snow, and with no traffic I just took it slow and easy. We stopped at the Rest Area at the top of Donner Pass. There was maybe 1/16th to an 1/8th of an inch of snow on the ground and it was coming down pretty good. David had never seen snow falling from the sky before.
Needless to say, we made it down the other side safely, and it was smooth sailing down 395. We stopped at the outfitter in Bishop (Wilsons) and got David a new NeoAir mattress, a small pocket knife, and some food. I made sure to go slow and check out all the towns near the trail: Bridgeport, Big Pine, Bishop, Independence, Lone Pine, to get an idea which ones might be good to stop at on the way back north. I made sure to point out Mt. Whitney when we went by. The Sierra sure are impressive from this side!
Then we hit a long stretch of some serious-looking desert. Hard to think I have to walk back through this in a few weeks. It looked incredibly bleak. I went through Cajon Pass but I didn’t see where the trail crosses (near the McDonalds), probably because I was distracted by heavy stop and go traffic. Ahh, southern California! Traffic thinned out by the time we got to San Diego around dark. We headed east on I8, but when we got to Alpine there was nothing. I had seen a lodge on Google Earth, but it was dark and closed. We drove back to El Cajon or La Mesa and took the first place we could find, which was kind of seedy. It was 9 or 10 by this point.
We went out and got some beer and food and took it back to the room. I spent a good amount of time sorting and packing gear. There’s a lot of things to consider on your last night in town! I think I was up until after one again. But then, I’ve been staying up past 12 or 1 for the last two weeks trying to pull this all together, so what’s one more night?
We got up around 8 and hit the road at 0830 or 9. It was farther to Campo than I thought. We stopped and got sandwiches at Subway for dinner (in Wired’s honor), and I stopped at the Post Office and gave my bucket it’s first bounce (to Mt. Laguna). I signed my first PCT register there! As we were almost to the trailhead, I got lost on all the dirt roads. I’ve got a lot of experience driving dirt roads, so I was able to drive my low-slung, 2WD car up this rutted jeep road to the top of this nearby hill, much to the surprise of my passengers. It had a big American Flag on it. Kind of a cool spot. From there we could see the monument a few hundred yards east of us. And we could see a whole lot of Mexico. It was about 50 degrees and windy. Not what I pictured it would be like. Felt a little cold, actually.
It took a few minutes to top off our water and get everything packed up just right. We’re taking 20 miles worth of water and expect that to take two days, so “dry camping”. Seven liters. Our packs were really heavy! We saw the Forest Service “trail runners” or whatever they are called. Talk about a cool job! They didn’t ask to see our permits, but just asked if we had them (at this point David actually didn’t, but we were in communication with the PCTA and hoping to get one mailed to Warner Springs). Finally, there was nothing left to do but start hiking. I think we hit the trail around 11.
Let’s do this!