Day 1 - campo to lake morenA
March 28 | Miles 0 - 20
The gang awoke around 5AM and shuffled around the coffee machine as we groggily dressed ourselves for a day of hiking. By 6 we were on the road, headed from Rancho Bernardo to the small rural town of Campo, CA.
After an hour of blinding sunrise and many passing cows we had arrived at the Mexican border. And I’m here to tell you, the wall is literally a 12 foot fence made of rusty sheet metal. Many hikers gathered to take obligatory photos. One stripped nude and climbed atop the terminus in the 50° morning for hers. By those standards mine is pretty vanilla:
We hopped on the crowded trail around 8AM, dodging and weaving between other groups. A short half hour later it was time for my mom, aunt, and uncle to cut bait and head back to the car (and back to real life) so we said our bittersweet goodbyes.
I cruised down trail, admiring the greenery and abundance of water sources in what would normally be a waterless 20 mile first stretch.
The trail squiggled uphill through a dry forest, rife with unusual desert vegetation and dead foliage. It was both beautiful and spooky.
I reached the top of a ridge and began to descend into the oven that is Hauser Canyon.
During hot, arduous climb up the other side, doubts started creeping into my mind.
Oh God. What have I done. Why am I doing this? What’s the point? 100+ more days of hiking mountains upon mountains? And for what?
I whined my baby ass up the big hill and at a certain point it was time to woman up. I made up a very catchy chant that involves accentuating different syllables in a simple affirmation. I repeated:
I can do this.
I can DO this.
I CAN do this.
I can do THIS.
And soon enough I was looking out over Lake Morena.
I passed a neat interpretive sign that reminded me just how daunting my goal would be:
And just as the trail spot me out into the tint one-campground town, I spotted hikers gathered around a pickup truck with a cooler situated in its bed. A white-haired man approached me and asked: “would you like a cold drink?”
TRAIL MAGIC! My first. I reached my thirsty hand into the ice and retrieved a cold PBR before sitting down to a chat with the trail angel, Magic Man, and two other hikers.
30 minutes and a pleasant string of conversations later, another pickup pulled up, this time driven by a guy with a tiny little white dog. He offered to drive us to the campground, and we gladly accepted.
Upon arrival one of the other hikes mentioned in passing that I was traveling solo. With this he took GREAT issue:
”You’re hiking ALONE? You can’t do that. You have to find a group. There are mountain lions and wild wolves in the area. I’ve hiked the trail solo, but I’m 6’3 and a man. This is NOTHING compared to what you’ll see in the next 2000 miles. As a woman you CAN’T be hiking alone. You know many people don’t make it past the first 500 miles.”
He finished his sour soliloquy by imploring me to “come hang out” with him whenever I finished the trail. I had no words except “thank you for your advice.”
The fact is I wasn’t alone. I was camped with 20 other people. I see other people on trail every hour or less. And I’m 6 damn foot myself! I stomped off in a frustrated cloud of fear and anger, having let him get to me. As I write this two days later, after having run his claims by several knowledgeable others, I have one thing to say to this man (apologies for the warranted crudeness):
Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one, and they all stink.