The moon was nearly full, and the sun hid just below the horizon. The calm of the morning helped settle my nerves until a fellow thru hiker asked me about my cerebral palsy as I made last minute adjustments to my pack. A half dozen hikers stood around taking numerous pictures of the monument at the southern terminus of the PCT. Once the sun popped over the eastern skyline I knew I needed to get moving. At the monument the goal of reaching Canada seemed unimaginable, but once I started hiking I withdrew from the big picture and focused on the few hundred yards of trail which sat visibly in front of me.
In the cool of the morning the miles came naturally and I sorted through the mixed bag of emotions. The start to my PCT hike felt similar to the start of the Colorado Trail. Ten months ago to the very day, I felt the same emotion of excitement mixed with a fear of the unknown as I started hiking out of the northern terminus of the Colorado Trail.
The first day on the trail seems to be the PCT litmus test. Most hikers attempt to hike from the Mexican Border to a campground at Lake Morena, which sits twenty trail miles from the monument. For nearly eighteen miles the trail winds through dusty hills, dominated by dense brush, with no reliable water sources.
As the dust slowly seeped through my shoes and socks, the trail started to abrade my feet, and my pack began to abrade the soft skin under my hip belt. From the beginning, the trail tested my resolve, and I know the trail will continue to test my resolve for the next 2660 miles. Not a single cloud could be seen in the sky, so the sun also tested my resolve in the heat of the day. The day before I flew out to San Diego four inches of snow accumulated at my home in Colorado so my body had to quickly adjust to my current climate. Some hikers took shelter under trees and rocks during the heat of the afternoon but I had my mind set on reaching Lake Morena. The last few miles to the lake gradually descend into the valley and during my descent a very unusual strain developed in the upper portion of my calf. I have hiked thousands of miles over the years and I have never experienced a muscle strain or cramp that felt like the cramp in my calf. After taking the afternoon off and sleeping the night at the lake I decided to keep hiking even though the strain had not disappeared.
Once I made it to my first resupply at Mount Laguna after 42 miles of hiking I decided it take a day off. Hiking the last half mile into town was painful, and I hated the fact that I had a hiker hobble after only three days on trail. If I push my body too hard this early I know I will set myself up for failure. So now I sit in a rustic motel with a strained muscle, a blister on the other foot, and a bruised ego. Now the question is how long do I rest? The Colorado Trail taught me that Patience has its perfect work, and now I must allow Patience to have its perfect work once again on the PCT.