What’s that thing on your back?


I’m at the Mann’s house in San Diego and will be getting a ride to the southern terminus (on the border with Mexico near Campo, CA) at 6am tomorrow with three other thru- hikers. My dad and sister will hike with me for the first 5 miles or so and then we’ll say goodbye.
Barney and Sandy Mann are some of the fantastic people who give the PCT it’s reputation for “trail magic.” Since 2006 (a year before thru-hiking as a couple), they have established themselves as some of the most influential and reliable “trail angels” on the entire length of this footpath linking Mexico and Canada. They welcome hikers from across the world into their home. They offer rides from the airport and to local gear shops and grocery stores so that soon-to-be hikers can make final preparations for their journeys. Barney is currently the chairman of the Pacific Crest Trail Association’s board of directors, and both he and Sandy met with congressional aides this year on the trail’s behalf.
Every morning during thru-hiking season, the Manns and their neighbors stuff vans with backpacks and head to the southern terminus of the trail to drop off the next ambitious group of hikers.
This year they and the other San Diego trail angels plan to assist a record number of hikers – probably over a thousand. It’s a privilege to be here before the main herd arrives to enjoy some one-on one attention with such dedicated trail advocates.
John Crawford, another dedicated PCT volunteer who has also advocated in Washington DC and has thru-hiked, stopped in to say hello after dinner tonight.
The support and goodwill I’ve been receiving from my friends and family has been sustaining my confidence. I’m a little nervous going to bed tonight thinking about injuries, waterless stretches, and whether my gear will function as planned, but I know that there are people behind me who are wishing me well and rooting for me to succeed. And that feels fantastic.

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