On the plane flying from Boston to California I realized that I’ve only been to California 2 or 3 times before. The landscape I was flying over was incredibly foreign to me. One thing was for sure, I wasn’t going to find the Appalachian Trail with it’s green tunnel out in the California desert.
The other thing that was abundantly clear was that there wasn’t any snow on the peaks of the mountains in eastern California. None! Suddenly the drought felt incredibly real. On the AT it had rained on me for 50 out of the first 60 days… Water shortages definitely hadn’t been one of my worries on the AT. Flash flooding on the other hand, had been a frequent concern.
Hotshot’s parents picked me up at the airport and before I knew it we were standing at the Mexican border at the start of the PCT. It was hard to believe that we were there, and about to start a new adventure!
It was amazing to be at the PCT starting monument, but everything else about the border was ugly. 2 feet behind the monument was a rusty barbed wire fence about 4 feet tall. Behind that was a dirt road with Border Patrol vehicles sauntering along it and whipping up giant dust clouds. On the other side of the road was a dark rusty metal wall 8 feet tall separating the US from Mexico. It made me glad that I was going to be hiking north into the desert hills.
As we were gawking at the monument and the wall, a border patrol agent drove up and parked beside us. He said, with what seemed to be a sense of resignation, that he would stay there until we left the border area. There was, apparently, a troublesome group in the area that they were looking for. It was clear that he was suggesting that he was remaining there for our protection.
He offered to take group pictures for us, and allowed us to cross the buffer road and touch the 8 foot metal dividing wall. We poked out fingers through the holes in the fence and laughed about the fact it was so much hotter in Mexico. The winds were whipping from North to South keeping our side of the fence cool, but heat was radiating off of the other side.
True to his word, the border patrol agent sat in his jeep and watched us the whole time we were there. It was a surreal start to what I hope will be an amazing adventure.;