• Blaine Hoppenrath

You Never Forget Your First: Day 1

They say "You never forget your first." And it is very true. While many of the days will blend together. I will never ever forget the first day of trail. I could not sleep at the night before. Scout and Frodo (the gracious hosts I stayed with the night before trail) told us as much. I got up, killed time, at breakfast, packed and repacked my pack and before I knew it I was headed out to trail.


The drive to trail was ominous. There was a thick fog leaving San Diego but before long the fog cleared and the desert emerged. Before we knew it, we were at the Southern Terminus, where a corrugated steel wall separated us from Mexico. Tiny holes in the wall showed a continuation of the landscape, it was just an arbitrary boarder that divided us from our neighbors to the south.



After the obligatory group and individual pictures the journey started. Walking was just surreal. The hike out of the terminus is nothing special. It's pretty, but it's by no means a show stopper. It's scenic, but not the most scenic part of the trail by any means. It was special because after a desire to set off on this journey, a desire that was with me for a better part of a decade was finally happening.


I had a goal to make it 15.6 miles. I wanted to be able to camp at Houser Creek. I wanted a water source and it was a good spot before a five mile climb the next morning. By no means did I set the world on fire, but slowly but surely knocked off mile after mile. I wasn't in the best shape of my life, but not the worst either. I struggle up a moderate climb and by the ned of the day I was exhausted and my feet were killing me. But by around 5PM I made it into camp. There were a few people already there and I found a spot to spread my Tyvek out and take off my shoes and get ready for dinner.


I quickly realized that my feet hurt so bad because I had a blister the size of half dollar on my heal. That night, Marika, a woman I had met the previous night at Scout and Frodos, taught me how to use my stove and thread a blister. While learning how to thread a blister Pellet (who had a trail name from previous trails) insisted "Don't worry about it unless its bigger than your thumb!" Marika and I chuckled and exclaimed back in somewhat unison "its bigger than my/her thumb."


After some mingling and the sunsetting I pulled out my quilt and fell asleep. The first day on trail was everything I thought it would be and yet nothing like I thought it would be. I had no idea what was to come and how hard yet rewarding the next five months and three days would be.

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