Two hours and twenty minutes. That's how long it took to travel from Seattle to Dan Diego today—nearly the same distance that will take me 5 months to cover on the trail. It's a humbling thought.
As I sat on the plane watching each of the guardians of the Columbia slide past the window—Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Hood—I was a swirl of conflicting emotions. Excitement at the nearness of a long-awaited journey, sadness at leaving a home, and the kind of nervousness that exists only when you stand on the cusp of something whose scale and scope can leave your mind an unsettled sea of unknowns. How long will it really take? What will hurt first? How painful will it be to miss my wife and my home? But one of the great joys of thru-hiking is making room for those doubts and ultimately using them as fuel to drive yourself ever forward.
Upon landing in San Diego, we met our first thru-hiker, Rich, who was on the same flight and lives in a suburb just north of Seattle. He was even nice enough to give me bunny ears...
Not long thereafter a minivan pulled up to take us to the home of legendary trail angels and former PCT thru-hikers Scout & Frodo. A retired attorney and teacher, they run an incredibly well-oiled machine of hosting hikers for 2 months ever year since their thru-hike in 2007. Not only did they pick us up and take us to their home for our last night before starting the trail, but will feed us dinner and breakfast before taking us to the border tomorrow morning. Amazing people, amazing generosity.
The evening ended with a trip to A16 outfitters for an unexpected dinner gathering and a PCT film viewing with all of the twenty or so hikers staying here tonight and a number of others staying with other local trail angels. 5am comes early tomorrow, and with it the first steps on the trail!