Our App is Available for iOS and Android!   Download it now!

Day 0: Odds

Day 0: Odds

hiker.dykes Apr 22nd, 2024
hiker.dykes's 2024 PCT Thru-Hike

Brooklyn, NY - Campo, CA | Mileage: 0.0 (Technically 6.8 according to the health app)

The alarm was horrible and we woke up at 3:30 and tried to pack up in the almost dark awkwardly stepping around the sides of the air mattress that had been our home for the past two weeks, eyes downcast to avoid the glare of the lights across the street. I’m not sure if I slept or just rested in that cozy warm quiet the way you do when you know you have to wake up ridiculously early and go somewhere new. Katie spilled the tiny plastic container of red pepper flakes I stole from the picnic and was crouched in the doorway trying to pick them up one by one. It was that time of day where we talk too loud and too slow and enunciate too much and still have no idea what the other is saying.

Me: Can I recycle this paper from T-Mobile? Katie: [Head turns, eyes lock in a blank stare, hair sticks everywhere] What?

Who knows if we left anything. Surely not me.

Yesterday on the train back from Central Park we played the odds game. By that, I mean we learned that last October, Cormac bought 18% lots from Abby that Katie and I would break up within the year. (They said it was relatively more likely this year due to the stress and uncertainty of moving and quitting our jobs and hiking the PCT.) I told them I thought there was 0% chance but they said no, even unlikely events are statistically possible and you never know what could happen.

And then we were in the Uber speeding wildly through Queens in the dark (the LIRR doesn’t start running until 5) and I realized that there is a very real chance that one of us could die which could technically count as breaking up. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if she died in that car, but it hit me that I have really really really good friends. They would make me a bed and dinner and hold me and make me feel safe and loved and it turns out that I am absolutely definitely really going to miss New York City.

Thoughts from the airport:

  1. These packs are so cool!! They fit UNDER THE SEAT! I will probably never carry a laptop anywhere ever again because it is heavy and I feel free.
  2. They are so cool in fact that when we were boarding the flight, a largeish scruffy guy in a tan button down hiking shirt behind us said “PCT?” That means we either look like we know what we’re doing or look like we’re trying to look like we know what we’re doing and acquired at least some of the right equipment. Nice.

We landed in San Diego and the rest of the day went something like a bus to the grocery to a trolley (blue) to another bus to REI back to the trolley (blue) to another trolley (green) to a bus to a dirt road to a tiny place called Campo up in the greenest, hilliest, rockiest desert? I’ve ever seen. Almost everyone on the last bus got off at Tecate, a small border town. There were more people than seats, so a group of high school kids spent the two hour ride sitting or standing in the aisle chatting in Spanish with each other and the driver. I felt pretty gross and extremely privileged to be sitting in a seat sorting out my insurance and savings accounts over the phone due to my luxurious early retirement. But, I did finally make a dent in my semi-permanent to-do list. Turns out thru-hiking is an excellent incentive to actually get your shit done.

We walked less than a mile from the bus to Camp Lockett Event and Equestrian Facility (CLEEF) with Teresa from Germany who was about our size and very excited about our tent, which is apparently only available in the US. CLEEF was like summer camp. There were huge handwritten welcome signs on a free-standing shelter full of picnic tables and space heaters and a couch and boxes of free kiwis and friendly and expectant hikers not sure where to stand or who to talk to. We set up our tent in the dirt behind the shelter next to ten other identical tents. This tent is a very cool, very fancy lightweight tent that requires two trekking poles rather than traditional tent poles, so we of course struggled immensely to get the placement and tension right. Even after several rounds of readjustment, ours looked a bit limp and shriveled compared to our neighbors. There was also the slight complication that the tent instructions specified a trekking pole height in inches but the markings on our poles were only in centimeters. In the intense concentration required to repeatedly calculate the wrong number, adjust a pole, stick it under the fly, and stare at the guy-lines wondering why they didn’t reach (Katie was beyond confident the conversion was 2.2), we didn’t notice everyone else had moved into the shelter and was now in the middle of a very serious looking orientation. We snuck in the back and learned how to not get dehydrated and cross raging rivers safely and schmooze unsuspecting day hikers for rides into town (an accent helps) and not walk too far too fast too soon and streamline our packs. It was honestly an excellent talk. One Speed and Papa Bear and Just Paul took turns standing in the center of the shelter, espousing wisdom and anecdotes on a given topic while we all (except Katie) sat absolutely rapt. It seemed too rude to cook, so we were very hungry and still for almost two hours. Then we made a chocolate protein shake in Zack’s double-sized peanut butter jar and some of the dehydrated chunky chili we ordered from Outdoor Herbivore and it was spicy and thick and full of protein and overall great. At 9, they turned off the heaters and the lights and we wandered to our tent. Everyone seemed to go to sleep instantly, but we hadn’t inflated our sleep pads yet due to the earlier interruption, so we hunched in the dark crinkling the bright yellow material and the gray inflation sacks, trying desperately to force some air inside with as little whooshing as possible. I gave up when mine was maybe half full, convinced some trail etiquette police would show up and shine a light in our tent and say it was illegal to inflate a pad after dark. They didn’t though, so we fell fast asleep, enveloped between layers and layers of oddly comforting plastic and polyester.

Next: Apr 23rd, 2024

Comments (0)