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WalkingSeth - Pacific Crest Trail Journal - 2014

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Seth Argetsinger
City: Kent
State: WA
Country: USA
Begins: Apr 21, 2014
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Sun, Apr 20th, 2014
Start: Seattle (Kent), Washington
End: San Diego
Daily Distance: 0

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 1,389
Journal Visits: 3,954
Guestbook Views: 579
Guestbook Entrys: 17

Last PLB Location

Pacific Crest Trail Map

The Trip Down - April 18 - 20

The train ride down was really great. I boarded Friday about 9am, half an hour before departure. The coach conductor gave me an aisle seat but told me I'd get a window when we got to Portland. It was pretty crowded as I got settled in but as I looked around at all the litte tags above people's seats I saw that almost everyone was getting off at PDX. Once the train was moving I went and got some coffee and breakfast and found a table to myself on the observation car. It was nice and sunny and I felt really happy. The last time I hiked the PCT, in 2011, I was sick with nerves for about 2 weeks before my departure and especially on the flight down. This time around I've been much more relaxed and less fearful. So I spent the morning chillin in the obs car, smiling, listening to music, etc. My ipod decided to play the song that goes, "we are far from home, though we're so haa-ppy..." which made me smile even more. When we got to PDX I had a little time to get off and walk around the area of the train station. When I got back on my coach was almost empty, there were just a handful of us near the rear. The conductor said we were free to change out of our assigned seats until Eugene so I figured I may as well take advantage of wide open spaces up front and not listen to/smell the brunch smorgasboard that was happening behind me. I sat there and ate my leftover enchilada, the last of mom's cooking that I'll have for a long while. That got me to thinking about how I won't see anyone I love for several months, which as you can probably imagine is a strange feeling. But rather than dwell on loneliness I replayed the final moments I had with people last weekend and in the days leading up to my departure. The beach on puget sound, family dinners, hugs goodbye, sincere well-wishes. I sat in that spot until we pulled into Eugene. At Eugene, there was about a thousand adolescents lined up on the platform. I sat there thinking wow that's a lot o' kids, hold on.. holy hell, they're getting on my coach! I gathered up my alforjas and made a hasty retreat back to my assigned seat just in time to avoid getting swept up in the tide. They filed in and took up the whole front section of the coach. They got a special personalized speech from one of the condutors. If you think you might be too loud, you are, don't be annoying, if you walk around barefoot your feet will get pinched between the cars and it's really gross, etc etc etc. Those kids were on all the way to LA and for the most part did really well. Later on at 5:45 I went up to the dining car for my dinner reservation. I expected a full house but there were several empty tables. They sat me down by myself and I looked over the menu for a few moments until my dinner company was seated across from me. It was a young woman named Jennie and her adorable little red-headed 6yo daughter, Piper. They were great dinner company. Jennie was very inquisitive and direct, which made for good conversation. Piper had this very endearing habit of saying "excuse me" any time she wanted to say something to me. I complimented her on her manners and she beemed me a smile full of sunshine. After about an hour I excused myself and made my way back to my seat in the rear-most coach. As we were eating dinner the scenery had been getting woodsier and woodsier and by now we were truly up in the Oregon Cascades. It was gorgeous. I saw half a dozen waterfalls and a couple elk drinking from a stream. I saw a huge owl down an embankment from the train turn it's head about 200 degrees to face me. Overnight I really didn't sleep well. I never really slept for more than an hour at a time before something or other woke me up. I suppose it didn't help that I didn't want to pull my curtain and every time there were lights outside I wanted to look. I gave up on sleep when my dream was interrupted by the sun blasting me right in the eyelids about 8am or so. By now we were in California. Later in the morning or early afternoon some time I came back to my seat
to find that I had a new neighbor, a very friendly retired school teacher named Bob. Bob was on his way to L.A. to visit his daughter in the hospital. Bob and I continued to chat off and on all day. He's a California native so he pointed out some of the sights to me. I spent the day moving back and forth from the observation/deli car and my seat and walking up and down the platforms when we stopped. We saw lots of interesting sights, there was a old mission church where there was apparently a wedding being held, lots of little towns that the train went right through, a large state prison complex, etc. Late in the afternoon we were passing dunes as we neared the coastline and I watched them pass by from the obs car with my hot dog. After I finished I walked back to my seat and as soon as I got there and looked out the window the view took my breath away. We had reached the coast and it was stunning. I haven't seen much of the Cali coast before (the family vaca in 1987 doesn't really count). I didn't realize how amazing it could be. I sat there and stared out the window for a good hour or two and snapped a thousand photos on my phone, but I knew there was no way I could really capture what I was seeing. There was a dream-like quality cast over everything by the golden California sun and the mist in the air. It was gorgeous all the way through to Santa Barbara and beyond until we travelled away from the coast again. Around 8:30 we got to LAX. It was Bob's stop so we wished each other luck and said our goodbye's, then I made my way into the depot to wait for my transfer to San Diego. I was not super stoked about having an hour-and-a-half to kill at LAX, but as I walked into the waiting area I spotted my new friends Jennie and Piper. After making sure my pack would be transferred between trains I joined the girls and we sat and talked about how much fun the train trip was, but tiring. Jennie commented that she was glad she would be flying back instead of taking the train again, to which I replied "I'm walking home", which Piper found to be a most dubious proposition. Even after much insisting from both Jennie and myself I don't think she was convinced. The time passed fairly quickly since I had good company, and the 3 of us boarded the train to San Diego together. Piper passed out after a short while and Jennie and I continued to converse about all kinds of things in our 2-days-of-riding-trains zombified state. I found her lifestyle very intriguing. She lives on a small farm at the base of wooded mountains and does a lot with her hands. She kept asking very pointed questions, too. I think that's kind of her thing. By the time we reached SD, hugged goodbye, and went our separate ways, I was sure that this had been the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Here's to train travel.

As soon as I hopped in the cab to get to my hotel, I felt like a dope for getting no pictures with Bob or Jennie and Piper. Oops. I think it was about 2am when I checked into my hotel reservation. I took a much-needed shower and passed out in short order. On Sunday I didn't really do much. I walked around SD a bit, bought some food for the first few days on the trail, watched The Greatest Story Ever Told in my hotel room, and rested up. Had a delicious steak salad for dinner and hit the hay.

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Journal Photo

Seth's Second Sally

It's great to be alive, even better to be free.

 

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