Most of the thru-hikers this year started their hike toward the end of April. Approximately 200 hikers started then.  I began my hike on May 11, 2012 around 7 Am. at the southern terminus near Campo, California. Treebeard, a Trail
Angel, and his little daughter, Ruth, drove me from San Diego.  They graciously allowed me to spend the night at their home and fed me breakfast, which included hot coffee. Just to be sure I started as far south as possible, I walked to the border fence, put my fingers in between the rusty, steel slats and kissed the Mexican soil.  There was a California Quail on the border fence calling, “chi-ca-go,”  which is where I am from. On my first day I hiked 19 miles from the border to a camp ground in San Diego called Lake Moreno Valley County Park.  The day was hot and dry but I was super excited to see the scrubby desert landscape and all the creatures that make it home.  I saw many birds, reptiles and insects.  The desert flowers were blooming and plants, such as the bright pink prickly pear cactus were growing all about.  The day was very hot and as I was hiking up out of Hauser Canyon I began to feel nauseous and lightheaded.  There was no shade but I put up my umbrella and rested on a granite boulder.  I felt like I was on the verge of heat stroke.  I knew I should be cautious and allow myself time to adjust to the heat.  After a time the day began to cool off and I hiked on to Moreno Valley.  The camp ground was full because it was Friday night and the start of the weekend.  They have a special section of the park for Thru-hikers.  I pitched my tent under a big tree and headed off to the bathrooms for a shower, the only shower I would have for the coming two weeks.  As the sun began to set I heard some major squawking coming from the tree above me.  It was a Black-crowned Night Heron roost that I was sleeping under. In the morning I saw them fly off for their feeding grounds.  It was time for me to pack up and head out of camp.  On the way out of Lake Moreno I found a few Western Tanagers, Western Bluebirds and a flock of Warblers.

*Here is a link to my Appalachian Trail blog until I finish transferring all of my posts over to wordpress.