While all through hikes offer different experiences, my South Bound experience was much different than a typical North Bound Hike. Most of the trail was very isolated, with very few who attempt this route in the first place. (90% of thru-hikers attempt to head northbound)
My isolated southbound experience had more opportunity for solitude and reflection! Ironically, on our final days we caught up with 5 other South Bounders:
Witty and fitting trail names were given:
Chopstakes & Shenanigan’s, Cheshire Cat & Bonus Miles, Tiger & Mantis (who I was already hiking with)
Late in the afternoon we all rallied at a campsite. We found out that there were cabins available at the Camp Ground at Lake Morena. Our last stop... Our last night on the trail!!
The crew also found out that I was into outdoor adventure racing and triathlons. There was no way we would make it to the campground office before close by hiking, so they voted that I run ahead to see if we could make it before the park closed!
A minor detail- the park office closed at 5:30pm. It was dark by about 4:45pm and I had about 7+ miles to run!
I gave it all I had, running across dried river beds, sandy sections and up a rocky mountain. My head lamp was dead, so I was running purely on adrenaline and a faint moonlight that strained through the overcast misty sky! The cold rain was coming down! I came to a turn and met a paved road. I glanced at my watch... 5:28pm! At this point I turned up the speed to my only gear remaining and sprinted into the park!
I arriving with a big smile! I tried to enter the office, it was locked! (Gutted, my head dropped...) Then I saw some movement in the back, so I pounded on the door! A man cautiously opened the door to a panting bearded creature who was drenched from sweat and rain!
I told him my story...
He paused, then smiled, ‘Were closed, but how can I not give you a Cabin now!' I was handed a key and he pointed me through the dark in the direction of our shelter. After a blind night search, I eventually found the cabin and cranked on the little fireplace.
Leaving a note at the park entrance for the others, I proceeded to run into a tiny store in a nearby village that was closing shortly... I ordered a few extra large pizzas and a few choice beverages! By the time I arrived back, somehow every hiker miraculously made it to this little remote cabin...
We packed that little cabin, drying out and sharing food, laughter and many stories!
The final day,
November 10, 2015
A few of us hiked together for awhile, but this was really a solo journey...
It felt right... To disperse... To hike the final stretch alone...
To reflect on our individual trips...
As we approached the border the rain disappeared, the blue skies returned and you could see the monument in the distance... Five distinct worn pillars stood proudly on top of that large sandy hill. They overlook Mexico to the south and the final mountain ranges of Southern California to the north
I arrived first out of our newly formed entourage to the Mexican Border! As each one of us came to the monument we all waited and cheered loudly for each other until the final hiker had reached the monument hours later!
Three of us had packed and hiked the final 20 miles with a bottle of champagne each. After some mad shaking... We fired off the champagne in celebration!!
We sat around, laughing & sharing stories of our unique once in a life time trip until the sun set!!
It was a perfect afternoon!
A perfect finish to my hike!