Mile #20, Lake Morena Campground

Brian was up early and left as Lauren and I were finishing breakfast.  I didn’t see him for the rest of the day.  Lauren and I hiked the short four miles to Lake Morena, where the final day of this year’s ADZPCTKO was getting underway.  

ADZPCTKO is short for Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kickoff.  (In hiker lingo, a zero day is a day without any hiking.)  The kickoff is a large gathering of PCT hikers, past and present.  Past year hikers host for current year hikers and the information sharing is valuable, as is the social networking.  I had been assigned Campsite 59, where I met my friends Cathie and Randy Cummins.  Cathie and Randy are from Centerville, VA.  Cathie was my Wilderness First Aid instructor and just also happens to be a pediatric physical therapist.  Randy is an engineer.  We reunited like long lost relatives, with plenty of hugs and handshakes going around.  I then got to hear their stories.  (The Cummins’ were already 109 miles up the trail and had gotten a ride back to lake Morena for the kickoff.)  As it turns out, while New England was having its “Nor’easter,” the weather at the border was also miserable.  Cathie and Randy started in 40 degree weather and rain!  I couldn’t believe the enormous change in weather as it was in the 90s yesterday for my start.  Cathie and Randy had made it okay to Warner Springs, with Randy picking up a few heel blisters and some foot swelling.  As we continued to talk, Cathie deftly drained Randy’s blisters with a sewing needle.

 The day was spent wandering the lake and campsite, meeting other hikers, and attending info sessions.  There were valuable sessions on water sources (present or dry), fire safety, and bear management.  Fire in Southern California is a huge concern as we are essentially walking through a vast tinderbox.  This is a drought year.  The area hasn’t received so little rain since sometime in the 1980s.  I met a number of people and I’m going to have to fill in more details as I run into these people again.

Near the Border in Southern California
Near the Border in Southern California

John I met outside the campground showers drying off.  He’s planning on starting at Campo tomorrow and seemed to know a good bit about cameras.  He’s going to be hiking with a set of water colors.  I met Bob and Amir (who is from Israel) through Cathie and Randy.  Bob stands considerably taller than me, sporting long hair and a beard.  I met Munchkin at a group photo.  She grabbed me by the shoulders and suggested I kneel since I was in front of her.  I declined, fearing I’d reveal too much to the camera if I knelt, but moved aside a bit so that Munchkin could be seen.  Munchkin, clad in an aqua blue tank top and multi-colored skirt, is appropriately named due to her diminutive stature.  Other folks: Ian, who I ran into walking back from the lake, is traveling with a small guitar.  Lauren #2 is from San Diego and studies philosophy at UC-Irvine.

Dinner was a cookout with slideshows and a video afterwards.  All in all a restful and informative day.  Tomorrow I join the “herd,” a term describing the rather large group of hikers who leave en masse after the kickoff.

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