“Is This Heaven?!”

 That is what all of the thru-hikers who are staying with Scout and Frodo keep saying to one another as we look at each other in amazement. We all get picked up by either one of them or someone in their network of PCT helpers, brought to their home, given food to eat (and wine and appetizers before dinner!), a place to stay, and a drive to the southern terminus at 6am in the morning. We are all complete strangers, being welcomed into a couple’s home and given free reign. The generosity is mind-blowing. This is what happens when we quit our jobs and leave our homes to hike for 5 months?!  Incredible!
My flight to CA went smoothly. (I hoped not to forget anything on this trip, but managed to bring the wrong glasses and forgot an extra water bottle). I had been told that I would be picked up by Jan after Caroline’s flight came in about an hour after mine. As I walked to the pick-up location, a man asked me if I was Wendy. I was a bit confused because I was looking for 2 women. Duane, a man in his early 70’s, turned out to be a last minute addition. Caroline arrived and we drove back to Scout and Frodo’s house, talking about gear and hiking, and laughing a lot. Caroline and I were assigned to stay in the same room and bonded quickly. Elizabeth, a hiker who had arrived earlier in the day, showed us around the home, and we were later joined by Jamie and Ben from Salt Lake City. The weather was absolutely perfect and I wondered why it took me so long to make my way out to CA after suffering my whole life in Boston weather! We were joined for dinner by several helpers and PCTA supporters, and I met the sweetest couple ever- Donna and Edwin!

Dinner table decorations!

Dinner table decorations!

dinner

Dinner!

donna and edwin

The cutest couple – Donna and Edwin!

More hikers continued to roll in during the evening and night. Everyone is open and friendly and relaxed, and most of the talk is centered around what we are carrying. (“Can I ask you something?…What is your base weight?”). I felt a bit torn because the people that I bonded with all planned on beginning their hike today, but I had planned on taking an extra day to relax and adjust a bit before heading out. I debated whether or not to join them, and suggested to Caroline that she could use a day of rest, but we all decided to stick to our original plans. “That’s what life is about, Wendy. People come into your life and then leave,” one of the guys said. Most of that group doesn’t plan on going to the kick-off weekend, so who knows if we will see each other again. Caroline helped me to boil my crocs in a pot of water and stretch them out a bit because they were already feeling too small to begin with. I think they were wrongly sized. Earlier, we had lots of fun going through the already full hiker boxes of unwanted items.

Breakfast was served at 5:30 and then there was a sudden torrent of activity to get the car loaded with all of the packs and people who were heading out this morning.

My new friends headed to the trail!

My new friends headed to the trail!

I didn’t even have time to get a group picture. Ryan (who I helped name “Drama Queen” at breakfast!) commented on the level of energy, adding that “even the guy who has already hiked this thing 2 times, and who has a pack with an extremely low base weight of 10 pounds) had a look of fear plastered all over his face. “What am I doing?! What is going to happen to me?!”.
I spent the morning helping Ron, who is from Germany, and Ryan resupply at the grocery store.

sprouts

Resupply shopping at Sprouts!

They were starting from scratch and needed all breakfasts, snacks, lunches, and dinners! We kept thinking it was late, but it was still in the morning hours by the time we got back. (That’s what waking up at 5:20 will do to you!). I snacked, took a little nap, and am now getting ready to lead a little yoga session to the hikers hanging out here. We’ll have another dinner tonight, pack up all of our stuff, and fill up our water bottles. And tomorrow, we will make our way out to the trail. It’s time to start walking! I’m a hobo again!!

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One thought on ““Is This Heaven?!”

  1. By now I think you are on the trail. I am very excited for you. I trust you remember me. I helped post your journal on your AT hike.

    Have a great time for me. My last three long distance hikes ended with knee problems: AT-2011 (350 mi – strees fracture of tibia), Florida Trail – 2012 ( 450 mi – bone spur broke off in knee requiring surgery), Florida Trail – 2013 (125 mi – torn meniscus in knee). Wendy, I tell you this not to complain, but to encourage you to hike strong for folks like me as well as yourself!

    Whatever you do, have fun out there and enjoy the wordl around you.

    Peter (Chenango)

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