PCT Day 1: 15.3 miles + some accidental off trail miles

Miles hiked today:15.3 miles + accidently walking off trail

Camped @ mile: 15.3 at Houser Creek

15.3 miles plus accidently walking off trail a mile down a dirt road, beneath telephone wires and a border patrol helicopter. Plus 1.5 miles off trail (each way) to get water at Houser Creek. Plus accidentally walking off trail a mile or so away from camp after collecting water.
This was all before we had yet to: set up shelters, eat dinner, oh and wash the poison oak off of our legs (!!!)
Poison oak encounters a couple miles in meant Tavi and I were purple wind pants twins in a game I call “Naturperation”. Like the Operation game as a kid. But instead of a gentle “bzzz”, you’d be itchy for weeks. We spent our first day lifting arms, dodging the outstretched branches, all of them. You see, we weren’t quite positive what was or wasn’t poison oak or poison ivy or poison sumac?

But, let me slow down and take ya back to mile 0.

David, a friend of a friend and a brand new trail angel, dropped Octavia and I off at the southern terminus around 6:30 AM. We packed our bags and then the PCTA worker warned us that Scout and Frodo’s group would be on their way soon (and they take their time taking photos.)

So we posed and smiled and I hugged the southernmost point of the PCT.
We got the rundown on LNT and hydration. Apparently there are many rescues within the first 15 miles. I thought this is all so very surreal to be standing here. I felt a tear trickle down my cheek for the second time this morning.
Then it was time for us to move! Which way is it? Ha. But really, time to check FarOut app already. Then, walk and walk! A trail angel posted up at the campsite offered us mandarin oranges. Trail magic already?!
First mile done! We meet two hikers at a water source 4 miles in. Seems like I brought more water (5 liters) than necessary, but I don’t feel like having too much water is such a bad thing. Next water is at Houser? We keep walking.

***We later come to find out Veronica was in contact with Poison Oak here at this water source***
I see a young woman who is deaf. I see a man with two amputated legs. I feel inspired to be surrounded by so many people out here pursuing this experience.
I meet the woman, Liz, and we sign to each other. I am grateful to have remembered a few things from high school ASL class. She later has a snack with us and teaches me how to say hardcore apple club. HAC is when you eat the whole apple, core and all! We all laugh at how unusual my eating habits are. Tavi says I eat the weird part of vegetables. I agree, this is true.
Two men going the opposite direction warns us about poison oak. We put on wind pants. (Our accidently matching purple wind pants.) Wow, the plant has grown over the trail! We won’t know for sure if we’ve been in contact with it for 12…24…48 hours?

Finally finding Houser Creek

The day seems to feel very long. We continued down a road after missing the trail. But we make it back on trail and into camp at Houser Creek around 6. There are a dozen hikers scattered about setting up their shelters.
We drop our stuff and head 1.5 miles down a trail and a road to running water. A beautiful shaded trail! On the way back we miss the turn and continue on for some time… A day of wandering off trail and lessons!
Tonight there is rain predicted. Thanks, Veronica for heads up! I contemplated asking Tavi If we could room in her tent, but felt stubbornly drawn to trying my tarp, even if it meant being the last one awake. I set my flat tarp up low to the ground. It took a while. I’m unsure on how it will hold up in the rain but I’ve got a bivy, it’s sunny tomorrow and I’m just too tired to worry!

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