April 24th 2014
Mile 0 to 15.1
Let me start by saying my nerves messed up my sleep for a couple nights before the start of my hike. So, I had very little sleep going into San Diego and then got to El Cajon and got into my little hotel the Relax Inn which is next to the transit station and has a Denny’s convieniently next to it. It also has an AM/PM and a 7/11 next to it which came in handy for snagging a beer later, which of course I was thinking would be my last chance for one.
Waking, my nerves were on high to get to the bus on time and not forget anything that I didn’t eat. I got to the transit station and was the only hiker there, then a couple and their little dog from BC came in and then two chain smoking guys from Israel came along and then Adrien from Spain. We boarded up after some confusion about ticket machines andjust as we were pulling away Ray from Boston jumped on the bus.
The bus ride had a lot of locals who were shopping and going back to Tecate, it wound through the mountains and after Tecate only hikers were on the bus. We arrived at campo and are sumarily dropped off and given a ‘good luck’ by the bus driver and that was that.
From the bus stop we hiked a mile in to the border and the monument, it is a small thing, not a ‘proper’ monument, it is more a milepost marker that is sort of rotten and dangerous now to climb on. We all signed the register on the back side of the monument and took our obligatory ‘start’ photos in which we look dorky and fresh and entirely unprepared for what is coming next.
Me at the monument looking fresh with Ray in the back signing the register.
Like all thru-hikers before us we started going too fast. You get there, you are at the monument and you just want to get hiking and you want to get to your first view, your first lizard, your first camp and water source. It is natural and you risk injury. We got about five miles in and I realized in my zeal to get going, I got my gaiters on but I forgot my liner socks. Liner socks are important, they help ease foot friction which eases blistering. I started getting hot spots on my feet and stopped, aired my feet and then realized my mistake. Not a good mistake the first day. Then, after a bit I was on again and realized my second mistake.
I not only forgot to eat, I forgot to take a vitamin or anything, and I just sort of ran out of steam tromping up the side of a mountain. It was then I fell back and let my hiking partners go on and decided I needed to stop and chill for a while, I ate a bar and took a vitamin and an ibuprofen. I took a nap for about thirty mins, refreshed I continued on.
I passed a large woman who was picking at her feet, the following morning I would find out she was in trouble and the forest service was looking for her. I then passed ‘plodder’ who is 73 and hiking the PCT, he was hurting and going pretty slow, he had a guy walking along with him to keep him company and most likely to keep an eye on him, I have not seen him since. The first day is rough.
I trudged on, I was surprised at my strength and yet kind of freaked out by my weakness at the same time. It is hard to explain without putting a pack on you loaded down with water and food and walking with you up the side of a mountain. You can do it, but it hurts, it really hurts when you are not used to it. But the views were good.
Finally I made my way into Hauser creek, mile 15.1 of the PCT and there was a water cache, water that is brought in by trail angels. I was really excited by this as I had a little less than two liters of water left.
Looks like trash, but these water caches can save lives.
At this point I was painfully tired and dodging some poison oak I found a place to put my tent, not the best place, but a place. I layed down for a little while to catch my breath and just rest. After I felt better I boiled some water and had my dinner. Then as the sun was going down I got into my tent and zipped in and assumed I would sleep well. I was mistaken.
In the border zone areas there are night patrols all the time. They have flights every twenty minutes or so through the canyons through the entire zone. They are equipped with infrared so they don’t have searchlights like the city airships I am used to, and they have a definitive military feel and sound to them. While this was going on, the people in tents around me were obviously not used to their sleeping systems so I got to heard them inflating their tents, fiddling around trying to get comfortable, turning on their lights on and off, getting water and going to the bathroom. Then I realized my third mistake of the day, in my rush to sleep I had set up my tent at an incline which means I would slowly slide to one side and end of my tent. My sleep was not good.
Though, I did manage to sleep in spurts.