Saturday, April 28, 2012

PCT Kickoff Recap

Night graciously gives way to day; birds cheerfully sing their sweet tunes, as a hiker drowsily transitions to an awakened reality, knowing exactly what has to be done that day. This is a typical morning for a backpacker.

My alarm blared at 5:30 A.M., I opened my eyes and knew the plan for the day. Except, I was not in my tent, I was in bed, at home. The Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off (ADZPCTKO) was underway at Lake Morena Campground and I had to be there! Los Angeles traffic and a three-hour (one way) commute were no match for my intention for the day.

Lake Morena
As I drove down the road into the Lake Morena day visitor area, passing the sea of tents, I got the chills and proclaimed out loud to myself, "I am home!"

tent city
This time around, I wanted to mingle with as many people as possible during my short visit. In an effort to keep this post relatively concise, below is a snippet of the people I met & presentations I attended.

Billy Goat
Billy Goat is a PCT rock star!! This man is almost 70 years old but has the legs of someone in his twenties. He has hiked the PCT 5 times in recent years.

Strider, a 1977 PCT alum, coordinates this wonderful event. His love affair with the PCT is over 30 years old and is as alive as ever.

Shutterbug is a petit woman who hiked, filmed and helped make the PCT movie 'Six Million Steps: A Journey Inward.' I chatted with her for about 10 minutes about trail life, filming the trail and camera equipment. She had a smile painted on her pale white face the entire time as she recalled her experiences on the trail. Great gal.

The last person I had the pleasure of meeting was Condor, a very personable hiker who received lots of media attention last year for his wonderful trail journals and videos. He recommended a few hikes in the Angeles National Forest I check out. Great guy.

Checked my phone, it was almost noon. I collected my belongings and made a beeline for the pavilion. Klarity is a fun yoga instructor who thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2010. She didn't just talk about how yoga helped her stay injury free, she showed us! And, yours truly took part in a 40-minute practice! So great.

hiking meets yoga...finally!
In the Q & A that followed, she recommended an exercise to prevent shin splints. "Write each letter of the alphabet in CAPS with each foot," she said. Thank you Klarity!

Not ready to leave just yet, I decided to stay for Bigfoot's presentation on avoiding overuse injuries. Bigfoot - an engineer in his 'normal' life - closed with this great statement that stuck with me. "The gear stuff is fun," he said, "but this [knowing how to avoid injuries] is important." Another reminder to not lose sight of the big picture! Thank you Bigfoot!

After six hours of pure delight, sadly, I had to leave. it was a very short trip indeed, but no regrets here. Yes I wish I could stay longer, but that'll have to wait 'til next year, when I kick off my own PCT journey!

It was a pleasure mingling with so many wonderful people. I thank those who organize this spectacular event and wish all the best to this year's thru'ers.


  1. Great post Andy! I am not a long distance hiker - but you made me want to be one! You really painted a visual picture of you day. I felt like I was there with you. I am so happy for you!!

  2. Thanks Joy! I think after one trip with me & Eric, we might convert you too :)) btw - I'm not promising I'll put on sun screen next time, but I will wear my super silly hat!

  3. Andy,

    It was nice to find your blog! Wish I could have made it out to the KO (East coast here). I am also doing the JMT this year (Aug 21-Sept 14). More leisurely than you :) I am planning to attempt the PCT in 2013. My JMT pack weight is 16.1 lbs, it was nice to see your pack list. I also have a lot of ZPack equip - and even a OR Helium II jacket. Good luck on your adventures - maybe we will meet up a year from now! -Mike

  4. Hi MIke!

    How's the spring time back east? Any decent hiking this time of year where you are? I hope you enjoy your JMT trek!

    Thanks for the well wishes and Happy Trails, Andy