“So this is home,” he says as he spreads his arms and looks around him.
“Yeah. For the next 6 months,” I say and then fall silent to let it really sink in.
It didn’t sink in. It still hasn’t, and I wonder if it will tomorrow.
With each step I take, my mind tells me, “This is real.” Step. “You’re really here.” Step. “Your journey’s started.” Step. “See, you’re walking on the trail.” Step. “Yes, that one.” Step. “The Pacific Crest Trail.” Step. “No, not a lookalike.” Step. “Not pretend.” Step. “The real thing.” Step. “You’re here.”
And as my mind goes about convincing me, I still can’t believe it. As my legs get sorer by the minute, as I sit down to take a break, as I look up at the night sky above me or the white sandy trail before me, I still wonder if it’s real.
Later, after a late 7pm start and getting in almost 10 miles by midnight, he turns around and says, “Let’s look for home.”
I know just what he means. It’s time to find our first flat ground to set up our tents on and claim this place as home.
And suddenly, it begins to feel real.
I shudder with excitement as my desert night hiking partner and I take off in search of home.