Last night Dick was like a kid waiting for Christmas. This morning we drove nearly 2 hours (75 miles) south to the WALL by Campo, CA where the PCT begins. On our way when he saw a mileage sign for Oceanside, he commented it was about this time in 1969, in this same terrain and heat, he was carrying a M50 machine gun base at Camp Pendleton in Marine Corp boot camp. So carrying a backpack is much more enjoyable. It's all a frame of mind.
|Finishing touches at the dropoff point. The WALL in the background.|
This is an odd year for the PCT with so much more snow and this heatwave (mid-90's where I'm camped), but still according to the PCTA Calendar, approx. 50 people a day will be starting to hike this trail over the next couple of months. We saw evidence of this today when we arrived at the trailhead and several cars were pulling up to drop hikers off and hikers getting their pictures taken at the trailhead marker. Dick is hoping to get ahead of the herd. He is not into the social scene and prefers to hike alone. Overall there will be around 2,000 hikers this year. **
|A view of the landscape as Dick is heading down the trail|
Some of Dick’s long trails have been Continental Divide Trail (CDT) (3200 mi) in 1999 when he was turning 50, the Great Divide Trail in 2001 (600 mi) and the Arizona Trail in 2014 (800 mi). He has thought of doing the PCT for several years, but mostly what has held him back was worrying about me and where I would stay and being apart too long. He would love for me to hike with him, but days on end of EAT, WALK, SLEEP just doesn’t appeal to me. Plus, I would hold him back. He wants to do 25 miles a day. Then he read an article in the Jan. 17 issue of BACKPACKER magazine titled I Can’t Stop Now about a 77 yr old guy with the trail name Billy Goat. The article must have inspired him because he started planning. We both decided we would make it work somehow. Now is the time while he still can.We sort of have a Plan but working it out as we go. That’s the way we did it for the CDT trip. It is so much easier now with all the different communications we have. He even has an APP on his iPhone called GUTHOOK. A great guidebook and map of the trail.
I am camped in the nice little desert town of Borrego Springs. I have plenty to do but the population of 2,000 has increased to 10,000 because of the Superbloom which, from what I'm hearing, hasn't happended in 23 yrs.
Plan A is to pick him up in around 7 days east of Anza.
He has slowly upgraded his equipment to get lighter.
His pack weight is 25.5 lbs loaded (18.5 lbs without food and water).
|Sent to us by our good friend, Ken Bausch|
**This explosion of hikers has happened since the 2012 publication of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir WILD. Dick agrees with Billy Goat. He is appalled by the profusion of ill-equipped soul seekers that have washed up on the PCT. “I see a lot of hikers who have no idea what’s in front of them. They just want to drink beer and smoke pot like the PCT is one big party.”