Everything is sticky. Every part of me is sticky with salt and sweat and sunscreen. Dirt has aheared itself to the sticky and so I am sticky and dirty. Filthy really. And this is only day one.
This morning we stood by the monument marking the beginning of a North bound PCT hike in a dense fog. On the other side of a wire fence was the really big fence that is supposed to be keeping people in Mexico. It is strange to start a voluntary walk through the desert, well equiped, with trail angels helping you, and boarder control waving kindly as you set off on your journey, while a whole population of people are struggling just on the other side of that fence, wanting more than anything to have the freedom we have… But I digress. Just a lot of feelings when you find yourself in such a highly contested place.
We had decided last night that we were only going to do eight miles today. So many factors influenced this decision. Some guy we know who hiked the trail last year said his one piece of advice was not to kill yourself on your first day, so there was that. Then there are the number of days that we have Simon and Steph for and whether or not we want to spend those days on trail or zeroing in town. We chose spending them on trail, which meant finding an extra day of hiking. Then there was the wisdom a fellow hiker shared with us last night: You don’t complete your hike in a day but you can end your hike in a day. AKA don’t kill yourself. Plus we only did eight miles our first day on the AT and there is something I like about that continuity.
It was a fairly easy eight miles, only made difficult by ninety three degrees and forty two pounds of water. The trail is lovely so far, smooth, sandy, park like, with little shady alcoves and cooling sitting rocks. We crossed a railroad that looked like it was a Disney Land ride. We got to camp right before one o’clock.
Our new hiker friend Michael wanted to go on record saying that he is thankful that we are carrying a sun shade tarp. So that is something. We all lounged under the tarp and passionately discussed moral code, psychological continuity, cultural relativism, and punching baby Hitler in the face. Why is it that nature brings you together with people, brings out the deepest life conversations with people you have only just met, pushes you to discuss things with them you may have never discussed with good friends? Kyle says it is because there aren’t any youtube videos of cats in the wilderness. Regardless, we talked about some deep stuff, except for Simon. Simon got unexplicably ill and puked while having diarreah. He feels better now.
All is quiet now as everyone settles into their tents. Out my mesh panel I can see an intracate Entrapment/Mission Impossible-esque maze of guy lines, which I will no likely kill myself triping over in the middle of the night. Day one is done and I am no longer nervous. But I might have to take a pre-bedtime poop.