When I left you last, my friend Tracey joined me in San Diego for the first segment of my 800-mile walk to visit California’s 21 missions along El Camino Real.
Twelve miles into the jaunt more foot blisters began popping up. Ironically, it was about the time we reached Broken Hill in Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve — how apropos . More mole skin adhesive bandage remedied the problem.
Torrey Pines reserve is filled with its namesake tree, which is the rarest of pine species in the USA. It’s endangered and only grows in San Diego County and on one of the Channel Islands off Ventura County coast. They grow about 25-55 feet tall and have long needles.
The path through the reserve was desolate, surprising given the densely populated area in Del Mar. Perhaps because it was a week day. We passed tall bluffs before descending onto the Pacific Coast Highway and ocean.
From here was a straight shot to our stopping point for day 1, Cardiff-By-The-Sea Lodge. Sea breezes coaxed us forward as we regaled each other with stories. Our frivolity began to wane as we reached mile 19…20…21…The sun had set, we were hurting, and our backpacks felt like lead as we stumbled on the sandy beach beside the PCH.
Around 5:30 p.m. and 22 miles north from where we started, Chesterfield Road appeared— home to our hotel for the evening. Not a moment too soon. Once in the lobby, we released or packs and they went thud onto the ground. The front desk clerk widened her eyes when hearing how far we walked, and we had 75 more miles to go .
There was no way we were leaving the hotel for dinner. A quick phone call, and pasta was delivered to our door. Piping hot spaghetti, toasted garlic bread, crispy salad…yummmmmmm!!!!!!
I’d like to say we slept like logs, but it was as if we’d exercised TOO much. Our bodies couldn’t settle down. Tracey took a sleeping pill and was out. I, on the other hand, laid there as my legs twitched, unable to stop “walking.” I needed to get some shut-eye for the long 23 mile walk tomorrow…
[Please look for the book I wrote about my entire 796-mile journey titled On a Mission. It's publishing in August, 2015.]