The snow was still piled many feet high when I left New Hampshire for Southern California. After road tripping through 13 states, logging 3,173 miles of driving, and spending 43 hours behind the wheel of my Subaru, I’m finally in sunny (well really, a mix of sun and rain) San Diego! The drive was a blur of long boring highways, slowly diminishing snow amounts and even more slowly rising temperatures. Surprisingly, on the day I arrived in San Diego, it was only 11 degrees in the mountains of beautiful New Mexico where I got up in the morning! Because of Covid concerns, I carried all my own food, never left my motel room after check-in the three nights I used them while on the road, and set a new personal-best record for how many state woods I could pee in over 4 days (avoiding public bathrooms). It was EPIC!
There were some surprising and beautiful road-side sights: I made a brief stop to enjoy gawking at one of my favorite Vermont roadside “attractions,” Big Moose Deli, still closed at this early season or perhaps due to Covid, and saw a “Welcome to Pennsylvania–Pursue Your Happiness” sign that I took to be a personal message to me as I set off on my journey to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). I was routed around an active small forest fire (reported, with emergency response on the way), something I had never seen burning before, but am likely to encounter in the form of old burned forests along the trail, smoky areas and re-routes around active fires on the PCT this summer.
The high mountains of Tonto National Forest (Arizona) were cold and windy, and spectacular to drive through. Descending from their 7,000 or so feet of elevation to 26 feet of elevation in the desert of Southern California (complete with it’s own mountains, wildflowers and warm sunshine) was a delightful last day’s drive. Now that I’ve arrived, the next steps are to pack up 5 months of trail food in 36 re-supply boxes that will be mailed to me at small post offices along the trail, test some gear, learn to pitch my tent in 10 minutes or less, and have a great time with my southern Cal grandkids. The adventure continues! Only two weeks until my PCT kick-off!