On our way into San Diego I took a little diversion to show Tania a place that is going to stick in my mind for a very long time. The PCT’s starting monument on the border of Mexico and the USA is up a dirt road near the town of Campo. Last time I saw this I was walking away on the trip of a lifetime. Though I like to think of myself as totally unprepared for what happened next I had done a fair bit of reading and research. It’s been hard to return to that state of mind, the optimism of heading into something unknown and pushing the limits of what I know I can do versus what I want to do. The walk across Japan never had the same feeling. It was only about 80% of the distance and civilisation was never going to be far away like it was in the High Sierras. I read the trail register and saw a few names I recognised from the email list and some hikers from last year giving it another go. The comments were a familiar mix of nerves and bravado. A few hours later while talking to Scout and Frodo I got updates on quite a few of those hikers. Having only just read of their beginnings it was strange to hear who had already given up or been forced off the trail by injury.
Scout and Frodo (also known as Barney and Sandy) were the San Diego couple who hosted me before I set off last year. Along with a few neighbours they helped 117 hikers get starting in April ‘08 and have earned their Trail Angel wings several times over. 120 if you count Rolling Thunder and us two. We caught up over a big salmon and pasta dinner. I’m apparently the only one still on hiker metabolism and munched my way through two full servings as we caught up on the latest PCTA efforts to maintain the trail. Scout is now chairman of the fundraising committee and after the sad loss of another board member the only thru-hiker on the team.
The next day was spent circling Mission Bay on a tandem. It’s a lot harder than I thought but it made for one of the most fun days of this trip, along with blowing up close friends in the computer game Halo 3 :). While singing along to “Daisy, Daisy” we dodged rollerbladers, errant children and a family expecting everyone to walk through the shops while they took up the entire boardwalk to play catch (umm, hello! Go play on the beach!).
That evening we caught up with Jan and Jim, the neighbours who picked me up from the train station after multiple delays and the longest traveling day I’ve ever had to deal with. Jan has the distinction of hiking the entire PCT downhill, by completing each section at a lower elevation than she started it, and Jim has climbed Denali (Mt McKinley, the USA’s highest peak) several times) so they are both accomplished adventurers.