The Beginning
Pacific Crest Trail Quest '08 - Page 1
I'm a mile into my 2660 mile journey.  I have a lot to worry about.  Will I run out of water?  
Will I get blisters?  Will I get to Canada?  I don't know.  I've never been on a long walk
before.  I guess I'll find out.

I started the trip as I left Des Moines at 8 AM this morning on a four hour flight to Phoenix.  
As soon as I sat down, I realized the plane was too small for me.  I spent the whole flight
trying to fold my legs into a position that would allow both of my feet to touch the floor at the
same time.

The most harrowing moments of the flight came during my trip to the tiny bathroom.  I
twisted myself into several positions and calculated the trajectory.  It would be impossible
for someone who is 6'4" to take a leak standing up in there without peeing on himself.  
Defeated, I sat down like a girl.

My flight to San Diego was on a full sized plane and quite comfortable.

I hailed a cab to drive me to the El Cajon Transit Center where I would catch a bus to
Campo, California and the trailhead.  The cabbie told me it would cost about $25 to get
there.  It cost $65, slightly more than I wanted to pay, but at least I was there.  I checked the
schedule and found the bus wouldn't leave for five hours.

The El Cajon Trinsit Center is not someplace you want to spend five hours.  There was a
hot dog stand in the building and while I was standing in line a woman marched to the
front of the line and demanded a glass of water so she could take her pills.

Later, a man came in and demanded cigarettes from the hot dog vendor.  The vendor
finally got him to leave, but his pants fell off as he was walking out the door.  That really
happened!  A man also took my bottle of pop and wouldn't give it back, so I let him keep it.

Three other Pacific Crest Trail hikers showed up while I was waiting, a couple from
Wyoming and a guy from Germany.  They were all packed a lot lighter than me, which kind
of made me jealous, but it's going to rain tonight and I don't think they had a tent.

We finally boarded the bus.  At the first stop one of the smelliest people on the planet sat
right in front of me.  Everyone but us hikers got off at the stop before Campo.  The bus
driver said,
You know, I get a lot of people on here that haven't had a shower for a while,
but that guy smelled like shit!

We arrived at Campo and I walked to the trailhead while the other hikers checked out the
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It's been a long hard day.  I made 26 miles today, but my pack is much too heavy.  With a
full load of food and water, it weighs nearly sixty pounds.  I don't know what I can get rid of.  
The only item I'm carrying that I haven't used yet is my rain gear and two pairs of socks.
Things should get easier once I"m out of the desert and don't have to carry all this water.

It's beautiful down here and the weather has been nice.  It was sunny, breezy and mostly
not too hot today.  I did manage to sunburn my elbows, though.  The trail winds up and
down through endless switchbacks in mountains covered in giant boulders, grass, and
low trees.  I have seen many lizards and horny toads and even a few snakes.  Luckily, no

I met one other hiker today.  He was an older fellow in blue jeans and a sweatshirt.  He
was carrying a load that made mine look ultra light, including a giant blue plastic tarp and
3 milk jugs of water in various stages of fullness tied to the outside of his pack.  He was a
former Iowan and a nice guy, so I wished him luck.  He caught up to me at lunch and we
talked about ethanol for a while.

Later, I rounded a bend and came across two illegal immigrants using the PCT as a route
into the states.  This is a common practice and I've seen lots of cans and bottles with
Spanish labels along the trail.

I said,
They said, Hola.
I said, Buenos dias.
They said, Bien.

Having exhausted my Spanish, I continued on the trail and they ran in the opposite

Tonight I'm tired and sore, but have no blisters or other injuries.  I didn't eat enough today.  
Hopefully, my hiker's hunger will set in before I lose much weight.  I'll give it a week and
see what happens.
To view a map of the entire
Pacific Crest Trail,
click to the
PCTA website.
Page 2
It was surprisingly cold last night.  I had to put on my coat and was still chilly in the
sleeping bag.  My fingers were numb by the time I broke camp, but I warmed up quickly
once I started walking.

By noon I was walking through the burning desert with the sun beating down on me.  The
air was dead calm and the biting flies were terrible!  I couldn't stop for a break without
putting my shirt over my face to avoid inhaling them.  I ate a lunch of twizzlers and corn
nuts on the move.  If I tried to cook, my meal would be filled with flies.

I climbed for several hours and reached a beautiful pine forest.  The air was cooler and
the flies abated.  I had several great views of the burning desert 4000 feet below me.

Tonight I'm camped at a Shriner's campsite.  I got to camp for free since I'm on the Pacific
Crest Trail.  I've covered 48 miles in two days.  I'm sore, but I can keep going.  Sixty miles
of scarcely watered desert lay between me and the next town.  I'm not looking forward to it.
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Southern Terminus of the
Pacific Crest National Scenic
Trail - Established by Act of
Congress on October 2, 1968

Elevation 1915 Feet

2627 Miles
Mexico to Canada
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