After all the hustle and stress of getting here, I feel free and ready at last!
For me, the journey really started last night with legendary trail angels (and thru-hikers themselves) Scout and Frodo. They have been hosting hikers for over a decade and will host 1300 hikers this year! Scout is tall and thin and gregarious, genuinely interested in human beings from all walks of life. Frodo is clearly in charge, focused on keeping the whole operation running smoothly. They picked us up from the airport, fed us stuffed shells and put us all up in giant party tents on their turf lawn in suburban San Diego. It was just magic.
I happened to pick my square of turf in a tent with 5 international hikers. Two Germans, an Israeli, an Aussie and a Dutch guy. Age range: 22-33. Of these just Tim (Dutch) and Sam (Aussie) were starting the next day.
After dinner Scout and Frodo reviewed trail etiquette and leave no trace principles and then entertained us with stories of the history of the trail (an epic 1959 thru ride) and of their own thru-hike (the English muffin in a baggie that survived over 2000 miles). Then at some point Scout pulled out a guitar. Incredibly, the silly song selection of the evening was the Rooster song! A staple of my childhood.
And then it was morning, hot breakfast at 5:30am and then promptly into the cars at 6 for the drive to the Southern Terminus.
They sent us off with a hug and a song in our hearts (and a reminder to “make wise decisions!” - Frodo).
At the monument there was much picture taking and logbook signing and a little LNT talk by the volunteer hosts, and then people began heading off down trail. Sam and I lingered a moment waiting for Tim, “Were you guys waiting for me?” Slight pause. Sam: “Ye-es? It just felt right.”
TimSam proceeded to set a healthy 3 mph pace. A perfectly clear morning, with the last lingering chill fast fading in the brilliant sunshine. And then... well, by some unspoken agreement we just hiked for 5 hrs straight. At 1 pm we’d reached the 15 mi mark and our planned stopping point for the day. I had promised myself that I would start slow but... it didn’t quite work out that way. In the end, Tim and I opted for a quiet meadow here at mile 17 (800ft of elevation gain post-lunch) and Sam chose to push on to Lake Morena at mile 20 where showers and milkshakes await. I was surprised to find that I was sorry that TimSam split, having already grown attached to our merry trio.
Day one is done and it was glorious.
To all of the people that got me here, to this day, thank you.