Day 1: First steps as a thru-hiker

Day 1: 11.4 miles

When I finally saw the monument at the PCT’s southern terminus, my eyes filled with tears. For years I had dreamed of standing in that place, at the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime and the symbolic end of my battle with Lyme disease. I shed a few tears, and my dad and I signed the trail register. My uncle Pete and my cousins Josh and Toni took photos of our Big Moment. 


Hiking north from the border felt surreal. We took the obligatory photo at Mile 1 and kept hiking. For the first nine miles we didn’t seem to go anywhere but in circles. The trail would head north, only to double back and head south, and after a few hours we didn’t seem to be very far from where we’d started. The weather was perfect, though: temperatures in the upper 60s and white puffy clouds scattered across the sky – quite a change from yesterday’s day-long deluge.

We were treated to a gorgeous first day on the trail. Streams were flowing. Wildflowers were blooming. Birds were singing. I pointed out a bright blue male Lazuli Bunting singing from the top of a shrub in a burned area. A Canyon Wren sang a short distance away. I kept a mental checklist of the birds I heard, but didn’t take the time to write them down. We saw small toads and several lizard species, but no snakes.

Late in the afternoon, we followed through with my plan to begin with short days (to minimize the chance of aggravating my recently-injured foot), and made camp at mile 11.4 with two Canadian hikers. Now, after eating dinner and cluttering up my tent with all of my gear, I’m ready for bed at only 7pm. At the end of my first day as a thru-hiker, I hope to sleep through the night for the first time in weeks. No more anxious anticipation. The adventure has begun!

*Find more of my PCT photos on Instagram

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