PCT – March 2 (Day one)
Campo (Start) to Hauser Creek, 16 miles.
VIDEO: Look at the very bottom of the page in the “comments” section!
Began the day at 4:50am at Chuck & Colleens’ house in Escondido, California, way too sleep deprived. Had stayed up too late the night before making sure everything was ready. I had a feeling that regardless if I was ready, the PCT thru-hike started tomorrow regardless, so I finally fell into bed.
Early that morning Chuck drove me to a “trail angels” house, where I munched on muffins & met a couple other thru-hikers, Marmot & Gabriel. They’re from Washington state, & thru-hiking for the first time. After picking up Dan, another thru hiker from Alaska, we started the 90 minute drive to the border.
Getting to know Scout, Marmot, Gabriel & Dan on the way out was a very good time. Scout hiked the PCT in 2007, and along with his wife “Frodo,” just help other thru hikers where needed. A true trail angel. Marmot & Gabriel are a very cool couple, & Marmot said to me later: “We were talking about you after we started hiking. You’re very likeable. You’re ‘Likeable Dug!'” Awesome couple. I hiked with them on & off most of the day. Dan is a videographer from Alaska, & works on different projects, including “Deadliest Catch.” One of my little sisters favorite shows!
Weather was nice, but very windy. After a short time to sign the PCT register & take pictures at the PCT southern terminus monument, we said goodbye to Scout & took our first steps onto the trail. Marmot & Gabriel took off ahead of Dan & I, and feeling that Dan wanted to start alone I jumped ahead of him a little. I didn’t mind being on my own, as well, I had a lot going through my mind. After 10 months of planning, this day was here. I had studied this topic so much that when I finally saw the PCT monument in the early morning light, I felt like I was meeting a rock star. It was funny, random, surreal, and also HERE. Finally.
After 2 hours of hiking, I was looking off to my left, walking along taking in the scenery on my left, when a sharp, fluid, intentional movement caught my eye low to the right. I didn’t need to hear the rattles to make a positive identification, but they helped drive the point home: I wasn’t welcome, I’d better stop, or I’d be sorry. I opted for “STOP.” Just a couple feet in front of me, coiled up among some dead branches, was easily one if the biggest rattlesnakes I’d ever seen. It was the thickest by far, and beautiful. I backed up, got my video out & started filming. It wasn’t budging. I mean, not one bit. I waved my arms, lunged forward (not far), and yelled. Nothing. I gently lobbed a few rocks near it (not at it, I was only trying to scare it away not hit it), nothing. It wasn’t budging. There was no way around it, so I employed my next tactic, probably the most effective: patience. Within 10 minutes, it slithered off, with the occasional rattle to let me know who’s boss. Marmot & Gabriel had seen it as well, I’d find out later.
The trail wound through scorched land that was working hard to grow back, up mountains and into canyons. I was able to purify water several times, and thanks to Gabriel, had something to put the water in too. Yep, I started the trip with one 16 ounce plastic bottle, and he gave me an extra 32 ounce Gatorade bottle. Who sets off in a journey through the desert just north of Mexico with no water bottle to speak of? Apparently, me. I’ll be stopping at the Lake Morena store tomorrow to get a couple of 2 liter plastic soda bottles…thankfully it’s just about 4 miles down the trail. The trail will start off very steep tomorrow before dropping down to the lake…I’m camped at the base of the mountain by a stream right now. Frogs, birds, crickets, the trickling sounds of water and the occasional border patrol helicopter are the only sounds that break the quiet. It’s beautiful.
Dinner tonight was awesome. After existing on granola bars dipped in fresh honey, trail mix & water all day, I went for it for dinner. Spaghetti with red sauce, freeze dried turkey, sliced up summer sausage (known from this point forward as “Lil Chubbs”) with a nice shot of olive oil mixed in for good measure for dinner. Dessert I celebrated a little with a treat: chocolate mud pie courtesy of Alpine Aire Foods. Almost 800 calories of chocolatey decadent goodness.
Now I’m all curled up in my bivy with my quilt (I’ll talk more about the quilt later, WOW. Incredible), ready to go to bed. It’s 8:30, approaching “hiker midnight,” which is right around 9pm. I’m off to bed, and up at 5:30 tomorrow morning. I’m sore, especially my ankles, hips, & right knee, so my body can use the rest!
Thank you everyone for your prayers & support, and I hope you enjoy the video & pictures from the first day! (pictures coming soon, as soon as I figure out how to load them!)
Dug (trail name: “Rawhide”).