He's back at it!

People who know me know that I belong on the Trail. I've thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail (twice),the Pacific Crest Trail and the mighty Continental Divide Trail. I've hiked many of the long trails here in Michigan including being the first to hike both the Ironwood Trail and the Great Lake To Lake Trail. In 2017, I hiked the Israel National Trail and the Golan Heights Trail. My next goal is to be the first person ever to hike the Baja Divide Trail.

The purpose of this blog is to keep anyone who is interested informed of my progress and to encourage those who are able to support me in this endeavor.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The First Few Days on the Baja Divide Trail

“WAIT!” I exclaimed, loud enough to cause everyone in that part of O’Hare Aiport in Chicago to stop and stare at me. I had sprinted for what felt like the length of the entire airport, knocking over old ladies and hurdling small children the whole way. I did NOT want to miss my connection to Los Angeles. As I approached the employee at the gate, sucking for air like a marathon finisher, he asked me (with subtle confidence), “Just fly in from the East coast?” It hit me like a ton of bricks: My new phone didn’t update for the new time zone; I still had an hour before my flight took off. Embarrassed, I sneaked off to a corner to hide my shame.

Aside from my airport freak-out, my travel to LA went smoothly. My niece Dayna and her girlfriend, Laura, got me to the trailhead (which is the San Diego Airport, oddly enough) as they did for me on the PCT in ‘12 (love those girls!).

 I admit that I was filled with apprehension the first morning (you can ask Manuela). There were way many more unknowns about this hike than anything I had ever done before. And, since no one has hiked it before, I had no one to ask. My dear friends Neon and Onnamove had just done the trail on bikes and gave me lots of good intel but there were still plenty of variables. First and foremost was this stupid ‘haul my water with a cart’ idea. What was I thinking?

I started off from my motel room a little shaky; I had to stop and re-pack the cart several times before I got it properly balanced. Then I had to endure the many strange looks I got from people as I walked to the airport. One guy even took a picture of me! But once I got going, I was blown away by the beauty of San Diego and the bay. The trail takes you all along the waterfront and it’s pretty cool. I wished I had time to check out some of those cool things but I needed to get as far out of the city as possible to find a place to camp. 

Eventually, after walking through a million neighborhoods and fighting with a lady about why her two rabid dogs should be on leashes, I found the perfect spot: Just off the main road and under some power lines, there was a nice flat spot with enough trees and bushes to keep me out of sight - IF I was careful. 

My first night in my new tent was a pleasure. That thing is a marvel of engineering! And with my new quilt to keep me warm, I slept like a rock. It felt so good to be back on the trail!

Day two was filled with more neighborhoods, a stop at Lowe’s to tweak my cart set up and a steep climb halfway up Mt Otay. 

And Dear Border Patrol: Can you please get your helicopter’s spotlight off my tent? I’m trying to get OUT of the US, not IN. Just kidding, I know they’re just doing their job.

Finally, I made it to the border with Mexico. I had my passport ready and I needed to buy a ‘tourist visa’ that would allow me to stay on Mexico for up to six months. Sadly, there was NO ONE at the border crossing. Not a soul. Just walked right in. The plan now is to re-supply, hydrate and get out of here as early in the morning as possible. The Baja Divide website issued a security update that recommends getting as far south of town as possible before camping. 

Wanna see if I survive the next 77 miles with only the water I can carry? Then click on ‘follow’. Lots more pictures and stories to come!

I need to give a quick shout out to Tom and Andrew at Moosejaw, Paul and Missy at Underground Quilts, all my friends at OBO #133 and the good folks at Lombardi’s. Thanks, everyone!

Now, leave me a comment!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like the first days were challenging. Can't wait to read more. Happy trails.

Christopher Hillier said...

Thank you, Anonymous!

Suzette said...

Looking forward to following this adventure! Enjoy!

Christopher Hillier said...

Thank you!

Noam Gal said...

Sounds like a great start for your trail. Welcome to Mexico, and I hope this water cart works out for you.

Christopher Hillier said...

Thanks, Noam, and thanks again for helping with the mapping and navigation for this trail. No way I could have done it without you!

Anonymous said...

Yay! You made it! Knew you would, and I know you'll do what you set out Too! Looking forward to following your adventure, and your return! First beer is on me! Nice hat btw! Missing you at Lomardi's already! Angie ��

trish2017 said...

So....where is that "donate" button that everyone is looking for!? It's not easy to find.

Anonymous said...

Chris, stay safe and have a great hike/roll! Next time, I won't miss the stories you'll have to tell after your SOLAR presentation! -- Lee (Liane).

Christopher Hillier said...

Awww... I miss you guys, too! I posted a couple pics to the Lombardi’s FB page. I’ll be back in June to take you up on that beer!

Christopher Hillier said...

If you’re on a phone or tablet, you have to scroll down to ‘view web version’ at the bottom of the page. You’ll see the ‘donate’ button on the right hand side. And THANK YOU!!

Christopher Hillier said...

I would love to present to the SOLAR Club again. And thanks for the comment!

Christopher Hillier said...

Roberta? Is this you? You gotta sign these things!