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April 26th, 2006
11:13 pm
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In SoCal, and as ready as I'll ever be
I'm staying over at necama's place tonight to catch a few winks before leaving for the trailhead. T-minus approx. eight hours, which will be spent packing and sleeping (in that order).

The last two months have been one long roller-coaster. At times, I'd consult some trail books, or buy some gear, or go out on a training hike, and I'd get psyched up and ready to charge through the first hundred miles at a single pass. Then I'd spend a week fruitlessly trying to find gloves or shoes in my size, or stumble across the online trail journal of someone who had to bow out halfway through, or stare at some unexpected bill that forced me to hurriedly recalculate trip finances, and be ready to crumple up in a little ball in the corner.

Having the start date creep this close has magnified all of that.

Two nights ago, as Kady was getting ready to go to bed, I was staring at two rooms' worth of scattered gear and despairing of collating it in time to leave for San Diego. Stress levels were pretty high. We exchanged a few shouted words over my not being packed yet, and quickly apologized. I ended up pulling pretty much an all-nighter (though, to be fair, a few hours of that were hurrying to get the last of the prep trip journal posted); we got on the road a little later than expected anyway due to last-minute chores; and our plans of reaching San Diego that night turned into "drive until 2 AM, collapse into a hotel, and meet Brian for lunch Wednesday." It was exhausting on pretty much every level, and if it hadn't been for the quasi-deadline of starting in time to make the kickoff party, I would have pushed my departure back a week without even blinking.

Today, we ate a tasty lunch with Brian and delicious dinner with my father and stepsister; watched La Jolla's harbor seals and walked down the beach in Escondido; and caught some warm, breezy SoCal sunshine to chase away the last week's clouds. It was calming, reconnecting, and a lovely memory to take with me on the trail.

Tonight, my knees are hurting from the abuse of being cramped up in a car for two days straight; I again have stuff scattered over the better part of two rooms; I'm going to be getting no sleep (though, to be fair, a few minutes of that will be trying to vent into my journal for posterity); and, in general, I'm sort of dreading getting up tomorrow morning.

Not the walking. I expect the walking to be the easy part. My body is going to ache all over, but keeping going won't be the issue; there's nothing else to do out on the trail but continue putting one foot in front of the other, and occasionally halt to grab some water, shade, or food.

What I'm dreading is pulling myself out of bed yet again on a few hours' sleep, cramming my body back into a car, and trying to convince still-town-soft creaky joints and crampy muscles that, no, really, 20 miles of hiking is a reasonable thing to do in a day. I'm dreading the thought that I might just collapse from exhaustion half-packed and end up hastily cramming 50 pounds of gear into my bag and still not bring the lighter or the maps or the can opener. I'm dreading that inevitable broken arm two miles before our starting point.*

But it'll be an adventure. I keep telling myself that; and more importantly, I believe it. I know that the roller-coaster will continue. There will be days when all is right with the world, I walk ten miles before breakfast, and I go all kung-fu on a mountain lion with one hand while performing CPR to save a day-hiker's life with the other. Then there will be days when just crawling out of my tent into the driving rain is an effort, the only food left in my pack is a past-expiration carrot cake Clif bar and a dusty can of kippered snacks***, and the giardia is starting to kick in. And everything in between.

I've just gotta stick with it. Get done what needs to get done, prepare myself as well as I can with what time and energy I have, and be ready for my expectations to be useless. It'll be some beautiful country out there, peppered with learning experiences, "trail magic," unexpected pleasures, and distance hiker camaraderie.

Plus, only twenty miles stand between me and a full weekend of partying with 600 people. I can dig it.

--
* In-joke.**
** The 2006 version of this has slightly changed. Since I've got health insurance, I can confidently predict nothing will happen that it would cover. So, either I'm going to finish the trip unhurt, or I'm going to have a meteor fall on me.
*** Both things I've eaten on the trail. Or, well, expect to have eaten. The Clif bar is still sitting there. Looking at me. With its little beady eyes. It gives me the jibblies.

Current Location: La Jolla, Calif.
Current Mood: pensivepensive
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From:kistaro
Date:April 27th, 2006 08:06 am (UTC)
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Best of luck to you with this. We're both starting on our interesting journies about now- the hike of your life, and the start of mine.

Here's to hoping you'll be able to get updates out somehow, because I'm certain you'll have a lot of interesting things happen that would be interesting to hear about!
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From:baxil
Date:April 27th, 2006 08:11 am (UTC)
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Updates: LJ phone posts, mailing paper journals to Kady to be transcribed here, and Internet cafes in resupply towns. This journal won't be going dark by any means.

Thanks, and good luck with your own changes. :)
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From:soreth
Date:April 27th, 2006 08:07 am (UTC)
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Good luck. :)
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From:roaminrob
Date:April 27th, 2006 09:01 am (UTC)
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The best trips are the ones that start out of chaos. You're forced to figure things out, adapt, do things a little differently than you expected to.

You don't have to do 20 miles the first day. You can sleep in the next day, and if you forgot something, you'll be able to work it out down there. So, no worries.

You also won't get your pack set perfect the first time out. So, hell, throw everything in there sorta half-assed and work it out along the trail.

Anyway, good luck and happy trails.
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From:ceruleanst
Date:April 27th, 2006 01:55 pm (UTC)
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Good luck, and have fun! I hope you find everything you hope to get from this adventure.
From:glitterychaos
Date:April 27th, 2006 02:54 pm (UTC)

For next time...

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Take lunabars. They taste better than clif bars, and contrary to popular belief, they do NOT contain female hormones, guys can eat them too :D I got my mate Adam hooked on lunabars, though he still gets clifbars just because .... its more masculine? :D

You`re probably gone, but I wish you the best of luck, bright blue skies and beautiful lands and all the wonders your eyes can take. Its an amazing trip, and I dearly hope that someday when I`m not so sick, I`ll be able to do the same. You`re a great inspiration.
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From:sebboi
Date:April 27th, 2006 03:28 pm (UTC)
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If you die, can I have your Toon books?
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From:kevynjacobs
Date:April 27th, 2006 03:36 pm (UTC)

From one long-distance walker to another... good luck!

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Bax,

I wish you the best of luck on this. It's an incredible experience to wake up one morning and realize you have covered over 1,000 km on foot.

> Then I'd spend a week fruitlessly trying to find gloves or shoes in my size,

Oh, gods... as someone who wears a size-16 hiking boot, and there's nowhere to find a replacement in northern British Columbia, I know all about this one...

> or stumble across the online trail journal of someone who had to bow out halfway through

Oooooh, I know what that one is like, too. It really sucks to not be able to complete the distance. You kinda gotta be philosophical about it. If it happens to you, be grateful for what you did get to experience.

> or stare at some unexpected bill that forced me to hurriedly recalculate trip finances, and be ready to crumple up in a little ball in the corner.

For me, that unexpected bill came in the form of a reposessed Jeep. Ask Kady about that one. You try negotiating getting a Jeep out from impoud and dealing with a Credit Union in South Carolina when you are out in the wilds of southern Yukon. Ain't fun. (And if that hadn't happened, I probably could have been on the road another month! It really sucks that money is such an important factor when you are away from civilization!)

> Not the walking. I expect the walking to be the easy part.

AMEN! You get in a rhythm, and before you know it, you've covered a great distance.

> But it'll be an adventure. I keep telling myself that; and more importantly, I believe it.

And it will! The best piece of advice I can leave you with is this: When you open yourself up to anything, the Universe will present you with all sorts of experiences you never expected.

Have fun, and good luck!

-Hagrid

From:hilarypoet
Date:April 27th, 2006 06:05 pm (UTC)

Blessings on your trail!

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May it be amazing and wonderful.
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From:nolly
Date:April 27th, 2006 08:18 pm (UTC)
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The seals in La Jolla? A block and a half from my office.

Happy trails!
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From:necama
Date:April 27th, 2006 08:30 pm (UTC)
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And, for those of you who are interested, Bax's last words before hitting the trail:

Very great, very cool. My hands are cold, and I have to pee, so I'm going to start out now.
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From:stolen_humanity
Date:May 1st, 2006 06:26 am (UTC)
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Have you ever thought of writing a book?
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