Fun fact: ADZPCTKO=Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kickoff
I intended to get back on the trail today, but this PCT kickoff shindig is just so informative. Well, there’s that and the fact that I’m sore as fuck right now. The beginning of a long-distance hike kinda feels like someone used you for target practice with a paint ball gun. It’s a little painful. So, yeah, kickoff is a sweet excuse to chill out today.
I wander the campground for most of the morning. I donate ninety-five cents to a grumbly man, who serves me the nastiest cup of coffee I’ve ever tasted. “Meh, meh, meh,” he grumbles. “Meh,” I reply, backing away from the table that he occupies. I’m not sure what just happened, but I’m glad it’s over. I walk pass a pile of leftover burritos from yesterday, fold one in half, and stuff it into the pocket of my parka. I’ll be needing this a little later. Twenty miles into my hike and I’m already being weird with food.
The overcast from yesterday carries on with its drizzly, rainy ways. It’s fine weather to hike in, but chilly otherwise. I spend most of my afternoon in a large octagon-shaped building, listening to lectures about water reports, fire closures, chaparral flora, and PCT wildlife. I learn that I should always treat my water, because there’s no telling where someone may have washed their ass. I learn that fucking around with a forest fire could be the last thing I ever do. I learn that I shouldn’t use something called a poodle dog bush for toilet paper. I learn that rattlesnake don’t want to waste their venom on stupid people who poke them with sticks. All of this may seem obvious, but sometimes people get funny ideas from funny places. For instance, the girl sitting to my right just explained to me that I could defend myself from a bear attack by shoving my fist into its mouth. “You just need to grab the dangly thingy in their throat,” she says. Well, how about that?
Scout, one of the trail angels responsible for escorting me to the border yesterday, is the final presenters of the day. He explains the importance of “paying it forward,” the philosophy of passing along the good fortune that we receive on the trail. “You can’t always give back, but you can give forward. He points out the labour of love that is the PCT. “It’s a 2,650-mile line that exists, because of people like yourselves.” Last year alone, one-million dollars were donated by ten-thousand people, and eighty-five-thousand volunteer hours were given. As his speech winds down, Scout mentions that he’ll be leaving to hike the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) in a few days. The audience roars with approval. Scout wiped his brow. “We are some of the luckiest people in the world.”
I’m pumped to hike in the morning.