April 24& 25:
The next couple days of my hike I spent at Lake Moreno at the AZDPCTKO, which stands for Annual Zero Day Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off (quite a mouthful) or simply "kick off".
Held at the Lake Moreno campground, it's similar to Trail Days on the AT. There are vendors for people who are rethinking their gear after the first 20 miles, or for people who forgot things. There is a shakedown tent for people with 55 pound packs who need help deciding what stays and what goes. Theoretically, hikers can obtain permits here, either for the thru- hike ( though those were gone a couple months ago) or fire permits ( but since it's a drought year, there are fire bans on California and Oregon).
Always welcome is the free food- bagel breakfasts, burrito dinners, coffe and hot chocolate and Gatorade and lemonade throughout the day. ( since it was raining and in the 50s while I was there, he hot chocolate was greatly appreciated).
The there are the lectures. Much of what hikers need to know- leave-no-trace camping, the water situation, and more information about poop than ANYONE ever needs to know.
The best are the lectures by the biologists. Just about the most entertaining thing in the world is watching a scientist talk about their chosen field of study, whether it be bear behavior, flora and fauna of the high desert, glial cell changes in both Alzheimer's and post concussive patients, or mollusk adhesive protein. The scientist eyes light up, they become really animated, they start talking faster and faster, and more and scientifically- never knowing that nobody else on earth (1) is nearly as excited about this topic as they are or (2) has any idea what they are talking about. Hey- it's all good! Plus now I know how to differentiate between different cacti and how to respond to Bears.
I ran into 3 AT thru hikers from 2013- Winterbourne and Frodo, and Carbon. I had lunch withCarbon and reminisced a bit.
By the middle of day 2, though, several of us were starting to get itchy feet, so we took off int the late afternoon so as to avoid the rush to get back on the trail. We put in about 6 miles and were able to set up at the Boulder Creek Campgroundbefore it started raining again.
YOGA AT THE KICK OFF
OFF TO A GOOD START