So here’s the rundown of the last 109 miles…
Laying down drinking some Mountain Dew relaxing for the rest of the day as I write this post. Don’t really drink soda anymore but anything with flavor will do at this point. I feel like a lot has went down since I first started so let me just go back to the beginning. After spending an awesome weekend running around California with my brother, here I was. Border of Mexico and California ready to go. After saying my goodbyes to my brother and grandma I was off. Nothing like a 85 degree cloudless California day with 45 pounds strapped to your back on top of being away from everything you know to really put things into perspective. And let me tell you it was hot that day. Really, really hot that day. My first clue though to how hot it really was was when I talked to the first couple I came across around miles 3-4 and my words weren’t coming out 100% making me realize that the heat out here was no joke. I needed to start drinking more water and taking it a little eaiser. I continued on and set up camp around mile 9 that night on top of the mountain that I’d been climbing all day. And let me tell you, there’s nothing like just finishing setting up camp and finding paw prints right outside of your tent to really throw a twist on things. Right away I looked up mountain lion paw prints and sure enough I had about a 95% match only for a guy to confirm it later the next day. Needless to say I got about 1 hour of sleep that night. Out of all the places I camped so far nothing has had the amount of animal/bug activity going on than that campsite. At one point right before I fell asleep it sounded like actual footsteps running past my tent on the trail and that pretty much sent me over the top. Finally it was day 2 and I was up and moving. After a long hot day I finally got to the Lake Morena campground and set up shop. As I was reaching for my pack posted up against a block of wood I got a splinter that went right up under my fingernail. You know a nice, Hey hi how ya doing. No matter how hard I tried to get it out it wasn’t happening. I spent the next hour cutting my nail in half from the top just to get this thing out. Off to a great start Justin. The people at the campgrounds dubbed me the trail name of “Surgeon”. Trailnames are a thing out here, it’s just part of the job description. Overtime it was eventually shortened down to Surge. Day 3 started out real easy until I decided to call home just to see how things were going. Bad idea. My mom choked up telling me how my cat Linus got hit by a car the night before I started the trail. Huge blow on the home front man. Probably one of the most unique cats that I have ever had the pleasure of owning and I couldn’t be more grateful for that guy. With that being said the next couple of days were tough and morale was low. Half of me was pumped just to even be out here and the other half couldn’t get out of my slump. It took a little while until I was back on a semi good page. My first half day off in town was around mile 77 in a little town called Julian. I hitched into town in a mini van with 9 other hikers and a total of 12 people in the van. An experience to say the least. In town we came across free beer, pie, ice cream and laundry for any of the thru-hikers passing by. Score. From there me and Easy hitched back to an RV park to stay the night. Our setup for the night seemed like a five star hotel compared to the trail even though it was bare minimum. The next day it took us and 4 other hikers 2 hours just to find a hitch back to the trail which was 4 miles away. It was another long hot day on the trail (seems to be a common theme out here) but the breeze seemed to be in our favor until later that night where I thought my tent was going to blow away for sure. Wrapping this all back up to today where I hiked an easy 15 miles into Warner Springs and took the rest of the day off to relax at this hiker community center with Easy, Nico from Switzerland and Jana from Germany. So to really sum things up so far… It’s hot out here man. I mean if you couldn’t already tell. One of my biggest worries coming out here was how my knee would hold up from hurting it while snowboarding 2 months ago. It’s doing 10x better than I thought and keeping it moving everyday seems to be the trick. I thought I was coming out here to get away from people…not a chance. Besides kicking it with Easy and Nico now dubbed “Two meals” everyday, I could do with more gaps of people which I think will happen within the up coming months. Don’t let the word “desert” fool you, it’s beautiful out here. Take the quietest time that you’ve ever experienced and times that by 10. That’s what it can be like out here. Silence is golden. When you go to dig a poop hole…think twice or you’ll be digging up someone else’s buried treasure. My shovel was thrown out in seconds and it’s something I hope to never experience again. The amount of dirt my legs and feet accumulate in a day has to be a sick joke. There’s no such thing as being clean out here. If I have to the chance to be cleaner than I was the day before I’ll absolutely take it even though it honestly doesn’t matter because within a couple of hours you’re right back to smelling like shit. Embrace it they say… Lizards out here are the squirrels of New York. Mostly little guys but every once in a while you come across a mini Komodo dragon running by. Snakes out here are fast. Expect rattle snakes but they just scare the shit out of you so it evens out. They sound like a cross between a sprinkler when they first turn on and loud maracas. But what I am starting to take away from all of this is what it’s gotta be like to be you’re own boss. No one forces you to work when you’re your own boss but you know that the work has to get done and same goes for out here. No ones forcing me to be out here, but if I wanna make it to Canada I need to wake up early and put the miles in throughout the day. It’s a very simple lifestyle out here. Wake up, walk, eat, walk, walk so more, eat, sleep and repeat. There’s nothing else to it and I love it. I wrote all this a few days back and I’ll be taking the next two days off to relax in town and let a new ankle injury heal up before setting back out. Don’t know when my next post will be but I just wanted to get this out there and say a personal thanks to everyone backing me on this and following along.
Here’s a little passage from one of my all time favorite books, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I’ve used this over the past year on days that were exceptionally tough to get up and going and being out here is no different. I still take this into consideration on the rough cold mornings trying to get up and moving. Talk to you guys soon.
“In the morning, when you rise unwillingly, let this thought be present: I am rising to the work of a human being. Why then am I dissatisfied if I am going to do the things for which I exist and for which I was brought into the world? Or have I been made for this, to lie under the blankets and keep myself warm? But this is more pleasant. Do you exist then to take your pleasure, and not at all for action or exertion? Do you not see the little plants, the little birds, the ants, the spiders, the bees working together to put in order their separate parts of the universe? And are you unwilling to do the work of a human being, and do you not make haste to do that which is according to your nature?” – Marcus Aurelius