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Markemmons - Pacific Crest Trail Journal - 2015

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Mark Emmons
City: Northfield
State: MN
Country: USA
Begins: Apr 27, 2015
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Mon, Apr 27th, 2015
Start: Mexican border
End: Lake Morena County Park
Daily Distance: 20
Trip Distance: 40.0
Hours Hiked: 8
People Met: 30

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 673
Journal Visits: 3,371
Guestbook Views: 154
Guestbook Entrys: 6

Pacific Crest Trail Map

(Click image for full size)

The Mexican border

And So It Begins

In a bold move that shocked the world, Emily and I began our thru hike yesterday, one day earlier than planned. We were surprised to find out that the kickoff event effectively ended yesterday morning instead of stretching into the afternoon, leaving nothing here for us but the chance to wait and anxiously pace for 24 hours. We opted to nab a ride to the border yesterday morning and get this ball rolling.

ADZPCTKO, or kickoff, served both to inform us and overwhelm us. Imagine your typical campground, then cram several teeny backpacker tents into each of the 86 campsites, mix in several hundred hikers wandering around in their brightly colored down or rain jackets, and you've got kickoff. Maybe 200 attendees were those thru hiking this year. Interactions within this class of 2015 operated along the lines of college orientation. You were asked your name (which means your trail name), where you're from, whether you've hiked a long-distance trail before, etc. With no trail name yet, I can't offer up anything better than Mark, which instantly gives away my novice status.

Over half of the kickoff participants were alumni thru hikers who came for the party. They introduced themselves with such names as Snakecharmer, Paint Your Wagon, Actionpack. One morning, a 60-something man named Tarzan woke up the campground with his signature yodeling call, which sounds like...well, like Tarzan I guess. As my first introduction to the long-distance hiking community, it was a lot to take in.

All day Saturday, the full day of kickoff, there were informative sessions about trail conditions, injury prevention, flora and fauna. They ranged from being helpful and reassuring to being weirdly detailed and thus meaningless. During the water report, the presenters would be describing a questionable water source at mile 405, and somebody would pipe in with the advice that you can walk past that dry source, climb down this hill until you hit a road, then follow the road west, and on the right, you'll see a cistern with a trickle coming from it. Thanks for the insider tip! Hope I remember your directions when I get there in a month.

The main purpose of kickoff is to quell our pre-hike jitters, and in that, it succeeded. There's a group of expert hikers there called the wolverines who offer the service of doing a "shakedown" to your pack. They go through every item in your pack and sort them into either a "keep" or "send home" pile. Other hikers were having ten pounds cut from their overstuffed packs. It was a beaming moment of pride when the wolverine that tore into my pack could only get rid of a fraction of a pound. It was starting to appear that perhaps I knew a thing or two about what I'm doing.

This feeling of buoyancy crashed to the ground later that evening when I returned to my tent to find it collapsed in a sodden mess beneath a downpour. Our welcome to the Southern California desert came in the form of a rainstorm with driving winds. Go figure. It was intense enough to flatten my tent...twice. I had been eager to cozy up in my sleeping bag when I discovered my flat tent for the second time, and instead I turned to the task of draining the sizable puddle off my tent floor. I re-staked everything extra well, and this time, it held.

With a restful night of sleep and a full day of hiking under my belt, that sense of buoyancy has returned and amplified. Most hikers start slow at the border with 10-15 miles per day. We were feeling so good and clipping along at such a quick pace today that we decided to bust out a full 20 miles on our first day. Our reward: we got to camp at Lake Morena (again) and stumbled into a chili dinner provided by the Andersons, two legendary trail angels. I couldn't have asked for a better first day, and won't expect the coming days to be so dang easy on us.

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Journal Photo

Mark Goes On An Adventure

Paddler-turned-backpacker takes on the PCT. My dream job is to be an explorer, so it all fits under the job description.


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