Tag: Southern Terminus

Set a Goal – Make a Plan

It was 2019. I had a goal – to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. The Plan was simple: find someone to go with me, gather my gear and go.

Mind you, at age 65, I’d NEVER backpacked. But it couldn’t be all that hard. Could it?

I had all the necessary gear (and more that wasn’t but that’s another story.) My mind was made up. I’d found a new friend, to go with me, Debbie.

The date was set. As well-laid plans go, there were conditions made by my new hiking partner. She imagined that the start of the Trail, near the Mexican border, would be mobbed with Cartel waiting to beset and besiege us poor women hikers. It was decided that her brother and wife would join and protect us. I’m not sure what kind of defense he would have deployed except maybe hurl disparaging and disrespectful language at the desperados.

Big Brother

The first day was exhilarating! Our first foray was three days two nights. It was a good way to start, affording me my first ever backpacking experience. I was frustrated at myself for how slow I was compared to the others. I really thought I was prepared! It seemed they did try to slow down a bit, but they would stop to rest while I caught up. How fair is that ? They get to rest much longer than me! And I was the one needing a long break!

After a couple weekend hikes protected by big brother, we were ready to move ahead on our own. Mind you, Debbie and I are still just getting to know each other. But sharing a two-man tent, one gets to know the other rather quickly. There was so much sass and laughter between us, we got along well.

Grand ideas of 20 mile days. We were so prepared! Hiking, exercising, planning. Debbie was convinced we would be completing the trail as thru-hikers in one year. She’s the optimistic-adventurer, I’m the cautious-practical one. After covering 40-50 miles, reality set in. I did some calculations and I informed Debbie that at our speed, without any breaks or even Nero days, we may finish by January! Grudgingly accepting reality, she agreed to a two year plan.

At the beginning of 2020, we had our permits in place and were geared up to go all the way. Then Covid hit. Well, maybe a three-year plan will have to do.

Pinchot Pass

In 2021 our target was 1200 miles. Again, reality brought us to about 800 miles. But it was a beautiful reality. Starting in northern CA, going Southbound (SOBO) we gained trail legs for the approaching Sierra and the daunting passes. Successfully fulfilling our much anticipated hike through the Sierra, we officially ended 2021 with cumulative 1662 miles of the 2650 total PCT miles.

Set a goal – make a plan. Sometimes the best you can do falls short of your goal. So what? You started and tried. More than the majority of people! We have come to accept ourselves and the pace we enjoy. It isn’t a race. It’s a journey. No shame because we are still out there…enjoying ourselves.

First Steps – PCT 2019

First Steps – Are you Coming?

As I made my first steps on this epic adventure, it didn’t feel much different than any other hike. That surprised me. Shouldn’t I feel excitement? Maybe it just hadn’t hit me yet. Reality does kick in when at Mile One, I was already shedding the warm clothes. No more room in the pack, so things are tied to my waist, tucked under the hip belt and hang off the pack.

The look of uncertainty is clear on my face. Is this really happening?

The plan was no more than 30 pounds. Actual was 33, oh and another two for the extra liter I decided to add at the last minute. (Just had to carry the shiny new PCT themed nalgene bottle I couldn’t resist at REI) Forget luxury item, that was pure VANITY!

We opt to hit 11 miles for our first campsite. I was ready to plant at 8.5, but was convinced that two and a half more miles was doable. It meant my first night hike! Wishing I had actually put new batteries in the headlamp, I hoped it wouldn’t fail me. (Even though fresh batteries was on my last-minute to-do list on the day of departure, I wasn’t awake enough at 4 am to figure out how to install them!)

Loving my buff.

Day two was breezy and cold. Gusts grew stronger as the morning progressed. I was grateful for the merino wool buff I could pull up over my ears and cover my mouth as the wind blew grit and sand into my face.

The descent into Hauser was beautiful. We rested at the bottom and cooked lunch before attacking the ascent. It was a long slow effort. People passed me up like I was standing still…Oh yeah…I might have been…. catching my breath and letting my heartrate come back to normal.

The last stretch into Lake Morena was like nothing. I put on Jay Unger’s Harvest Home Album and danced down the trail. Gotta love good fiddle music to get you through.

Even though we were tired and our feet complained after setting up camp, Debbie and I walked to the Lake Morena Malt Shop and had good warm food. Good thing too, we needed the extra warmth for the cold night to come. Knowing the next day would be a leisurely six mile hike, we lingered at the campsite. We took our time with breakfast, repacked our backpacks and ditched trash. Having been a chilly night, the morning warmed quickly as the sun rose in the sky.

Lots was learned on our first three days. Like the funny sounds we make while inflating our sleeping pad, (Some things are funnier when you’re tired) it’s always a good idea to have fresh batteries in your headlamp, and take more toilet paper along than you think you’ll need.

Day One PCT – It Has Begun

Day One – PCT It Has Begun! January 2019

Can it be? This is the day!  Sleeping like a baby, my sweet-gentle-wake-up music came on at 4am and I jumped out of bed. A list of last minute reminders is next to me; things that came to mind at 3am, scribbled in the dark: fresh batteries for the headlamp, take  granddaughter’s car seat out of the car and clear out the junk in the back, don’t forget the poles, and the PCT Pocket Atlas!

Everything else is packed.

The plan is to meet at my house 4:45am; my new hiking partner Debbie, (whom I met on Facebook…yeah that’s another story!) and two of my close hiking friends, Patti and Sherry, who have agreed to drive us to Campo.

We are hiking with Debbie’s brother and his wife  who will park their car at Boulder Oaks Campground for our ride home. So glad for my minivan, there’s no problem fitting six people and four overstuffed backpacks for the quick trip to Campo!

As we arrive at Boulder Oaks, the gate is locked with a sign saying it was closed due to the government shutdown. Hmmm – wonder where they will park their car for three days? Arriving before the others, we waited in the driveway of the park. Huge trucks were driving up, unlocking the gate and proceeding into the park. One of the workers came up to my window and I’m trying to think what to say (remember it is now 7am  and I’m still not really coherent) I blurt out, “I’m waiting for a party.” Everybody starts laughing and I’m puzzled. Yeah, after I thought about it, it did sound a bit weird after they explained it to me! The good news is, their car can be left on the side of the road outside the park. The crews were installing new electrical poles and lines, and the traffic would be slowed down all three days with lane closures and flagmen.

After brief introductions, we continue on to Campo. One last stop at convenient store for a real bathroom

They’re all surprised when I drive right up the dirt road to the Southern Terminus. It’s breezy and cool. We’re all bundled up like it’s 30 degrees, not knowing what to expect.  I show them the hiker log, tucked neatly into a metal box. It was a surprise that there were already several pages of hikers logged in. Apparently the 2019 season starts in November of 2018! I see that the day before, several people logged in, but there is no one else today. So many profound quotes and expressions of anticipation, I’m dumbfounded that I hadn’t given any thought to what I would write! All I could come up with was “It’s getting real.”

Day One…It has begun.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén