May 15, 2016

Directions and Decisions

Image from HalfMile PCT app
HalfMile; THE PCT app.
It's Saturday night. I've spent the last few hours catching up on my news feed,
updating my FB page, and putting off writing this post. In truth, I've been indolent this evening. It's fairly typical of me. Focus was never a great strength of mine, and failing to address that weakness, I've spent a lifetime placating my own childishness in that way.
   It's okay, there are many worse failings that a man can have, and I'm hard on myself, for the most part. Indeed, part of me loves the guilt. Revels in it, even. That makes this post bittersweet, as I will no longer be able to blame myself for not writing it. Ahh.. the twisted torment that is self analysis...

I'm not on the Pacific Crest Trail. I'm safely tucked away in a suburban home, about 34 miles east, according to HalfMile.
I had never intended to hike the PCT in April. In fact, my devious hiking plan this year was entirely built around leaving later. It went like this:

• Start hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in Campo around May 10th.
• Save money by bringing almost no gear, food, etc,
• Pick up supplies and food that is left behind by other hikers in the various hiker boxes and food drop locations between Campo and Idyllwild.
• Pat self on back for being awesome (and handsome!)

    Yes that was the plan I'm afraid. Don't laugh, I'm being serious. That's actually a better plan than I had last year, and much better than most might think. Fact is, the PCT is flooded with thru-hiking rookies, much like I was last year, and they pack too much. Way too much. I could stop by the Warner Springs Community Resource Center right now and find food enough to feed a village, and more gear than I could shake a stick at. In fact if any of you reading this, wants to hike the PCT someday, you should consider my plan. Or don't, it's your dime pal, and gear ain't cheap.

And yet, I'm not in Warner Springs. I can't be. Even I must earn a living somehow, and deciding to thru-hike on such short notice the way I did last year left more than a few torched bridges. The reparations work was awkward, let me tell you...

 Truth is I was a military brat. Once I leave a place or person, I don't assume I will ever see it or them again. Pain-mangement, and all.

    In an attempt to be a better person, this year, I gave my employer, a local, family-owned Mexican Spot lots of notice, and I agreed that I wouldn't leave until two of my foreign-born coworkers returned from the yearly sojourns they make to their home countries.

Firstly, Alexsandra, a German emigrant and all-around kick-ass individual comes back to San Diego in a few days. no big deal. Elliana, a Chilean beauty that helps manage full time, however, isn't returning from Chile until almost mid-June. (Why she's returning at all is still a mystery to me, I mean, Chile! Right?!) These two coworkers are the heart and soul of the restaurant, Tio Leos, and without them, staffing is very tight. Incidentally they're friends of mine too, and I don't want to screw them.

Image: Tio Leo's Mexican Restaurant, Del Mar California
Tio Leos Mexican Restaurant, Del Mar.

In the meantime, I'm covering the ladies by picking up their management shifts along with my usual bartending and serving duties. Frankly I'm just trying to keep my head afloat in the civilized world until I can get back on trail.
Image Bartender, Author, Justin Arn, Karmaforward.
I'm much more attractive after you
have a couple tequila shots...

The timing however, is a problem. Leaving Campo in May is one thing. Leaving Campo in mid-June is something else completely. I've wrestled with the notion of slack packing the first few hundred miles in an attempt to catch up to the calendar and outrun the vicious desert heat. It's not optimal, believe me. I've also toyed with jumping on trail in Big Bear, or even Kennedy Meadows, and skipping large sections of Southern California. After all, I already hiked all those, right?

In the end however, I've decided to do what fate had in store for me all along anyway. I'm going to just go the other way.

Northbound PCT hikers step off in mid-April usually. But Southbounders don't begin until early July. They wait until the Cascades are warm and clear and then hike like hell, attempting to reach the High Sierras before the freeze sets in. Southbounding is apparently much different, and must be planned for in ways I'm not at all used to. Also, Sobo hikers in number are a disproportionately smaller percentage of the community as a whole. Much smaller. I'm guessing a couple hundred at most. Once you start spreading them out all over the trail, well, it reduces the socialization in what is already a somewhat socially depriving activity to begin with.

There may not even be a bubble.

While on the surface that sounds nice, I remember how greatly I enjoyed being around the people I had the opportunity to meet on trail last year, and can't imagine the experience being improved by an extraordinarily reduced community of hikers. With no background to judge, however, it's ignorant of me to make any assumptions at this point.

We'll see.

So there it is, I'm officially SoBo-ing in 2016! There will be the usual gear and food posts until I step off in late June. I know you can't wait to hear what food secrets, I've got in store, right? Two words: Baby Food.
Image of Hiker food on PCT

Yep. Organic, no-formula, highly enriched baby food, mofos. If I hate it, it's too late, because I got boxes and boxes of this stuff. oh yeah....


Image of coins and savings for PCT2016 thru-hike
Pacific Crest Trail Hike Savings 2016!

Image of boxes packed for PCT thru-hike 2016.
Packing for the Pacific Crest Trail.

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