Scott and Rachel's Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike journal: Mt. Laguna, Mile 0, April 13

Mt. Laguna Campground - Tomorrow is the big day. We will be arriving in Campo sometime in the early afternoon and from there we will head to the border and the trailhead. We plan to stop for a few token photos of the trailhead monument before heading the 1.5 miles back into Campo. As it stands now, the plan is to reward that first 3-mile ceremonial round trip with a steak dinner before saying our good byes to Rachel's parents and heading on down the dusty trail. With any luck we will have a few more miles behind us by nightfall. But we get ahead of ourselves!

We spent a busy four days in Los Molinos, at Scott's parents ranch. We had 26 resupply boxes to organize and 75 lbs. of mixed nuts, 20 lbs. of hot chocolate and numerous other goodies to dole out into smaller portions. The process took two full days and the whole of the two car garage. We had piles of food so large that we were having a hard time keeping them separate.. Scott documented the whole process on film only to realize, as he rewound the film, that it hadn't taken onto the roll in the first place. Therefore, we must leave it up to your imagination what six months worth of dehydrated dinners and 500 candy bars look like, spread out all over the garage.

The next disappointment of our pre-hike preparations involved another of the ranch animals. No, it wasn't the killer rooster this time (although we are pleased to say that Scott has fully recovered from his bout with the rooster, but he was disappointed not to have enjoyed rooster-stew before leaving the ranch) but it was the newest addition to the clan, Skunky, the kitten. We had set the tent up in the back yard in order to seam-seal it, but when we came back to it we were distressed to find that little Skunky had enjoyed climbing up the mesh sides like it were a child's jungle-gym. His claws had left three wholes in the side of the tent, just about big enough to allow the mosquitoes and other pesky critters to enter. After attempting to repair the damage with a couple of different materials,we finally found some repair tape which Scott has just finished applying and it appears to have worked. Now, each night that we lie in our tent and look up, we will think of Skunky and all of his kitten mischievousness.

With the resupply boxes packed, the tent patched and instructions left for countless different things, it was finally time to leave Los Molinos to head towards the border. We have taken three days about getting here and have enjoyed some beautiful scenery along the way, stopping to spend the night near Mono Lake, then Red Rock Canyon State Park. We came down along the backside of the Sierras and suffered through the heat of the high desert before making our way up into the cool of the Mt. Laguna near 6000 feet. We are now preparing for our last night with Syd and Judith, Rachel's parents, before our big day tomorrow.

As we have made our way south Rachel has becoming increasingly apprehensive. At times she looks at the arid landscape and confidently asserts "I can do this", but it isn't much more than half and hour later when the next wave of doubt and concern washes over her. Not used to hiking in arid environments, water is her biggest concern, as she looks out at the dry creek beds and brushy landscape.. This emotional rollercoster has wreaked havoc with her digestive track. On the other hand, Scott, as a native California desert rat, is confident in his approach, pointing out that water can be found in the most unlikely of places. Any nervous tension that he is experiencing, he is keeping to himself. Tomorrow will put us to the test.