After a nice ride along Highway 8, I arrive in the infamous Campo, California – home to the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail.
After obligatory photos with the monument, an encounter with border patrol, and some heartfelt goodbyes, it is finally time to start walking – to Canada.
It is 8:30 AM and the day is already threatening to be a hot one (way to play into stereotypes, desert). The first few miles pass relatively quickly, but upon my beginning to check the map at every justifiable opportunity to do so, the miles begin to drag on forever. At around mile six (9.6 km) I already think I've gone more like eleven (17.7 km) – it is going to be a long day.
At mile 14 (22.5 km) there is a 1,200 ft / 365 m climb (following a 10 mi / 16 km dry stretch that continues until mile 19 / km 30.6), and by this point in the day, I am dying. The only thing going through my head is, “What the hell am I doing?” In my mind, there is no way that I will be walking anywhere on day two (or any day after that for that matter).
My second day on the trail is going to be a zero day, how disappointing.
Everything hurt: my back, my shoulders, my legs, my feet, my arms, my butt, my chest – everything (maybe not my face, I did use sunscreen). Needless to say, I am in way over my head.
When I finally reach my home for the night, Lake Morena (20 mi / 32 km from where the adventure began), it is well after dark and I have no idea how I am going to stay awake to prepare myself dinner. But following a (warm) shower, a stint on the toilet, and a change of clothes, I summon the strength to prepare some of the finest ramens that the Lake Morena campground has ever known (or will ever know).
Laying in my tent I think of what everyone had said to me, “you'll be so exhausted from hiking that you're just going to pass out.” However, what I failed to take into account is that these people are liars who do not realize that sleep does not come easily when your body feels like it is turning itself inside-out.
After 20 mi / 32 km of hiking, I never would have guessed that day two would see another thirteen (21 km).
I suppose I still have a lot to learn.