It’s 6:30am and we’re on the 805 heading south down to Campo. It’s hard to believe this day has finally arrived! In fact I’m in such a daze I’m not even sure what to write. It’s pouring on the outskirts of San Diego and Don and Donna say they haven’t seen this much rain in a long time. I’m curious to see what it’s like at the trail head. Cool weather could be a good start but my rain pants are meeting me in Kennedy Meadows!
At weigh in this morning I weighed 132 pounds (60kg) and my bag weighed 45 pounds (20kg). I realised at 10pm last night it was the first time I’ve actually had all my gear and food to put into my pack. Images of Cheryl Strayed started running through my head; no I’m not that bad!
Phil one of my teammates from the Wilderness First Aid course gave me some white sage as a parting gift yesterday. He told me to burn a small part of the leaf if I’m in a situation where I need guidance or to cleanse the space I’m in. All of my classmates offered their support and I feel like I have a host of new friends behind me wishing me well along the trail. I’ve even got my cheat card from the course tucked away in my first aid kit so I can make them proud!
The second day of the course was as full of information as the first. During the lunch break I had to search far and wide for a jet lighter. I tried Home Depot, BBQ Galore and Walmart before having to drive all the way to a little cigar shop in Del Mar. I wasn’t going to leave without one! Thanks to our teacher Paul I was also able to complete my first aid supplies. I think I’ll have the largest kit of any PCT hiker out there.
We are driving in complete fog at the moment. I may even get to test out my compass today if I can’t see where I’m going. If I get signal at the trailhead I’ll include a picture, otherwise I’ll be checking in again somewhere along the trail!
Once I had the keys to my car I was set! A beautiful little Silver Chevrolet, automatic, whatever the name, mini beast! With the latest pop tunes pumping I was onto the motorway heading towards my first mission of the day, a US SIM card!
This mission proved more painful than I anticipated. Verizon apparently only issues SIM cards to ‘Verizon specific iPhones’, whatever they are. They suggested AT&T who presented their own hurdles for non US citizens wanting data connection. To cut an hour long experience short, with the kindest salespeople of all time I should add, I had to pay a $500 deposit, which I’ll get back in 12 months in the form of a cheque to a US only address. This was just the beginning. Following that the cheapest plans were only offered to Android, again, what the? So for me, a non US citizen iPhone user who wants some kind of data plan, I got stung with an $85 per month (before tax) plan plus an additional $36 connection fee. I was dumbfounded but left with little options if I hope to somehow continue this blog and maintain some contact with the outside world. Most of the sales reps overheard the chatter and were fascinated and horrified about what I was planning to do. Nevertheless they plan to follow the blog intently!
The next stop was REI where I was ready for a lie down to test out the various sleeping mats on offer. The Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Sleeping Pad was a clear winner with it’s unique Z fold design and egg-carton pattern. I also purchased an Arcteryx synthetic jacket for the cold and a belt (plus the membership fee of $20).
After a horrifically expensive afternoon I welcomed a walk along the beach and some quick site seeing. I tried to find HEET fuel for my stove and started to think Yogi was making the stuff up as no one knew what the hell I was talking about. Then after talking to Donna I realised that HEET is an antifreeze liquid for cars, and in San Diego cars don’t freeze! So no wonder I received so many blank looks at gas stations!
I’m sitting at Starbucks enjoying an Organic Soy Frappuccino while I wait 45 minutes for Avis Car Rental to re-open. There was a sign on the door that said “picking up a customer, back at 11:30am”, and despite the fact I’m baffled that they close their entire operation for one person, that’s just the way it is. At least the sun is shining and I have wifi!
On the flight down south I sat in the middle of a lacrosse team and actually recognised the coach as a man we worked closely with during the Vancouver 2010 torch relay from the Four Host First Nations. We chatted about the old team from VANOC and mused at the fact we bumped into each other on a flight from Bellingham to San Diego!
As we flew over lakes and mountains I wondered if the PCT would cross some of these places. I even started reading ‘Wild’ again on my E-reader. It’s such an awesome story and reading about Cheryl’s preparation makes me feel a little better about my own.
When I touched down and met Donna who was holding a sign with my name at the baggage area, the first thing she said to me was “you don’t look like a hiker”. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I’ll take it as a compliment. When we got back to her place I met her husband Don and they introduced me to their three cats Molly, Noel and Nicholas. Despite a few allergies it’s super comfortable, they even had my name on the cup in the bathroom.
Providing I get all my tasks done in the next few days I’m going to start the trail on Monday morning, just a few more days away!
I’m sitting at Bellingham airport after a monumental morning of activity facilitated by my trail angel Sarah. The border crossing was always going to be interesting, and it didn’t disappoint. I thought it might confuse the guy when a girl with an Aussie accent with a Dutch passport coming from Canada arrives in the US to do a 5 month hike. My permit to re-enter Canada via the PCT came in handy and as long as I’m out of the States by October 10 I’m all set!
Our first stop was Fred Myers for tuna envelopes (instead of cans which they don’t sell in Canada), then onto the post office. We walked in with 14 boxes and took over the available floor space to label and tape them closed. In the process a man looked at the labels and picked me as a PCT hiker right away. He introduced himself as Acorn 2011 and Sarah replied “I’m Ladybird 2004”. I’m definitely entering a different world. Acorn bestowed on me two important pieces of advice: 1. Don’t take advice from anyone who hasn’t walked the trail, and 2. Don’t quit on a bad day.
I was able to send half of my boxes by truck (they basically fit them in when they can and suggest a 3 week delivery time). The rest had to go by regular priority mail. The final bill was $281.38, seemed pretty reasonable for the weight I’m posting.
Before we left the post office we met another PCT hiker, not a “thru-hiker” but a hiker non the less. He also spotted the boxes right away and started up conversation. I left there buzzing and ready to hit the airport and begin the next leg of the journey.
I just went through security after chatting with a lovely woman named Jeanie from Idaho. In about 10 minutes I had her home and cell phone number, and contacts for her grandson and granddaughter. I gave her my blog so hopefully they’ll be following along. And if I’m ever in Idaho I’ve got myself a place to stay, thanks Jeanie!
One week to go. I’m half of the mind to start the trail on Monday instead of Thursday. I don’t want to lose momentum and feel like I’m more than ready to get out there! Let’s see what presents itself in San Diego!
I got to the airport 2.5 hours before my flight this morning only to discover I don’t clear customs until I reach Sydney. I think the lady at the check in thought I was a bit simple as she kindly explained that I’ll need to get the shuttle to the international terminal in Sydney then check in again with Air Canada. I think I looked puzzled.
Both my check in luggage and carry on are over the weight limit but she ignored the additional kgs on weigh in and hopefully I’ll sneak through with the carry on.
As you can tell I’m killing time taking photos of my breakfast and my view of the aeroplanes.
I always get a weird feeling at airports. It’s like you step out of reality for some time and sit in this kind of limbo land until you reach your next destination. It’s a kind of no man’s land where you know nothing significant is going to happen until you get off the plane. Or is that just me?
I’m in my own airport bubble eating raisin toast. The earlier I get to the airport, the more likely I am to be rushing last minute to get to the flight. Still 1.5 hours to kill. Surely I can fit in another coffee and a quick nap perhaps?