Day 1: an unexpected day

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Day 1: mile 0 Mexican-US border to mile 20 Lake Morena

I thought the desert was meant to be hot. I’m sure it will definitely heat up but not today. This area has seen more rain in the last 48 hours than we’ve had at home for the last 2 months.

We (16 of us)woke to rain on the big tents in the back of Scout and Frodo’s place. It was a 4:30am start for me, waking with excitement and anticipation, unable to sleep in any longer. My body clock is still thrown.

At 5:30 sharp we smashed down breakfast. Initially all silent as we contemplated what we’re to start then suddenly erupting to a cacophony of nervous voices all at once. By 6 we were loaded into cars and started the hour or so drive to Campo.

The obligatory photos of everyone at the southern terminus began. There is a barbed wire fence near the monument, separating the area from a dirt road with patrolling border security then a 15ft high wall separating Mexico and the US. Finding a gap in the barbed wire and waiting for patrol vehicles to disappear over a hill I stool the opportunity to place my hand on the wall and look through a small gap to Mexico on the other side.

By 7:30am I was off in the misty rain, reaching mile 1 a short time later. Only 2649 more to go. I wasn’t expecting rain in the desert. It was that shitty sort of rain, enough to soak you through but not enough to justify sweating underneath a shell layer.

The initial miles came easily. Leap frogging the same people all day. So many names to remember. Everyone’s emotions running high.

By mile 14 the legs were getting tired and a descent down to Hauser Creek at mile 15 wasn’t much fun. But I couldn’t top there. Conditions were cool and there was a 1000ft climb to contend with. It was either do it now or camp the night and tackle it in the warmer weather tomorrow. I pushed on. A slow steady pace with many short breaks taken.

The rain continued and it was a matter putting the head down and dealing with it. Wet through it was warmer to keep going and stopping at the top in the wind.

I got to use one of my odder pieces of gear – an umbrella. I bought with the sun in mind but turns out, like most umbrellas works fine in misty rain as well.

I pressed on mile 20 (32km for those at home), surprising myself. Over the distance of this trip I need to average 20 mile a day but didn’t think I be at that distance on day 1. I won’t be able to keep this up so early on and plan a shorter day tomorrow.

Reaching the camp at Lake Morena I was welcomed by around 10 other hikers, swelling to around 20 by the end of the evening.

Hiker did what hikers do best, we sat around cooking dinner and comparing gear. It’s interesting to see so much of the same stuff that I have but plenty of different things I’ve never seen before. I’m no ultralight more light weight and it was awesome to quiz the true ultralighters (less than 10 pounds or 5 kg) how they do it. The NVP for ultralighter of the year thus far has to go to Dream Crusher who’s pack looked like half a day pack, with the smallest tarp you’ve ever seen that would offer bigger all protection with windy rain but he did have a bib by bag as well.

We were all done by 8pm, an hour before hiker midnight and sleep well.

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