Touchdown in San Diego. After 23 hours of flights, because you know, I’m cheap. Also I would rather have 50 stop overs in random countries, and fly with an airline not exactly known for It’s high level of safety, than pay the extra $300. I found my accommodation for the next couple of days, close to the city so I could go make some outrageous purchases of outdoor equipment.
After a couple of days in the city, having purchased everything that I needed gear wise, I made my way to what I have affectionately dubbed ‘Base Camp’, but could also be called ‘PCT Ground Zero’. What is this magical place I speak of? ‘Base Camp’ is the home of the Mann’s. ‘Scout and Frodo’, these are their trail names (everyone on the trail has a trail name, I haven’t earned mine yet), host hundreds of PCT hikers in San Diego every year. They open up their home and let random people from around the world take over their house. For around 8 weeks, their home is full of about 30 hikers per night getting the last jobs done before the big day.
After completing the trail in 2006,‘Scout and Frodo’ have been hosting PCT hikers (since 2011), and needless to say they have a pretty smooth operation going. They have large communal tents set up in the back yard where we sleep and sort gear, in the garage are a plethora of zip lock bags, postal boxes and addresses to send packages to. They also run a mail sorting service, where international hikers can order online and pick up their gear when they arrive. If all of this wasn’t enough ‘Scout and Frodo’ also provide breakfast lunch and dinner, as well as rides for all of the hikers to the border, 1 hour away. Whats the catch? None, this completely free of charge, and is run by volunteers that are all past hikers of the PCT and want to give back to the community.
‘Scout and Frodo’s’ house is an amazing place to start your hike. You meet lots of other people doing the same things and a lot of past hikers, share advice, compare tactics and gear, and make yourself a trail family, also you find out the people you want to avoid on the trail. It’s also a great place to meet people that will make you feel like you’re way under prepared, your bag is too heavy, and the 6kg of food is way too much for the first leg, even though you have the metabolism of a baby elephant, somedays a full grown one.
Staying at ‘Base Camp’ was an awesome experience, and the generosity of the Mann’s is unreal, life would’ve been a lot harder without them. It was a a great place to make some friends and gave me some confidence in lieu of what was to come, although at 8pm the night before leaving I weighed my bag and had a small heart attack. Apparently 6L of water (no water for the first 30km in the desert) and 6kg of food, plus all my equipment, feels like your trying to carry the world on your shoulders, in some kind of Atlas type deal. Maybe I should’ve taken some advice, but like my mum always says, “you never listened before, why would you start listening now Simon”. None of that mattered at 4.30am the next morning when I was wide awake, and frantically stuffing things in my pack before breakfast and setting out to start hiking for the next 5 months.
A big thank you to the Mann’s for everything they done for this community. Remember to follow my Instagram, Facebook and this blog! And remember guys please hit the donate link and give whatever you can to this awesome charity .