Leavetaking

My first blog post from the trail is a bit trickier than I had hoped. My shiny silicone flexible Bluetooth keyboard is swell, but doesn’t work so well when there’s no flat surface to set it on…

I’m at mile 295 or so, sitting in my tent as a cool breeze and clouds roll through the sky. I only went about 15 miles today, as per a promise to my wife to take it easy at the start. I’ll have to see how well I can keep that promise tomorrow–I’m not certain there are any camping spots within easy reach.

I’m at the Holcomb Crossing Trail Camp, a wide, flat area with fire rings and nothing else. This, as have been most things on my journey so far, is appropriate. We used to come here with my Boy Scout troop when I was a kid. It was here (during one of those trips) that I dislocated my knee a second time, necessitating my father running miles down the trail to catch the group on horseback that had ridden through earlier in the day, and with whose help I rode out of the canyon behind Ed from Apple Valley on a horse named Wheat T. And it was here, on a cold January day ten years ago, that I first started seriously getting back into backpacking and dreaming of the PCT.

The most difficult part of the day, by far, was actually leaviing. i’ve been itching to get on the trail while also being filled with wonder and terror at the idea, but it wasn’t until I had to say goodbye to my wife and kids that it fully struck me how little I’ll see of them for the next several months. They, too, are excited for me, but I was weepy all morning after my departure. (Thankfully, this was somewhat mitigated by my leaving behind my gaiters and gloves, requiring a return to the house and another round of leave-taking, this one with more amusement.)

Now for my overly sentimental nerd thing for today. Remember in Gladiator how, at the beginning of the film, we see Maximus pull out little clay representations of his family, to remind him of them and their importance? Well, I had my loved ones build Lego mini-figure versions of themselves to carry with me. You can see their picture below.

The trek from the house to the trail was a long one, with a lot of elevation loss and gain. I met my first stranger about 5 yards along the PCT: a fisherman plying Holcomb Creek. Our conversational highlight went like this:

Fisherman: Are you just out here hiking?

Me: Actually, I’m hiking the Pacific Crest Trail; you’re standing on it now. It runs from Mexico to Canada.

Fisherman: Wow! That’s amazing! Where did you start?

Me: Right here.

Fisherman: *much gufffawing*

Since I only hiked about 3 miles of the actual PCT, I didn’t see any fellow trekkers, though a few pairs have passed me since I set up camp. I have a feeling I’m going to be at the very back of this herd soon…

The wind is rising; I’m off to prepare for bed. Tomorrow: will I survive tonight’s Siracha? Also, it would appear thieves snuck in and stole my hair!

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