A Day with the Hikers

July 19: San Mateo County
A Day with the Hikers
Editor’s Note: Jon’s journal returns tomorrow.

Today, I was fortunate to be able to spend a day hiking with the Coastal Trail Expedition ’03. My friend Marilynn Mariano, who would be leading that day, encouraged me to join her. Marilynn and I arrived at Fort Funston and anxiously waited for the hikers to appear. The last time I had seen the group was on the first day of their Expedition. That was on June 3 at the Oregon-California border. So, I was a little concerned as to how they would fare during the first 400+ miles of hiking.

So there we were, Marilynn and I, waiting for the hikers to appear at Fort Funston. Day 47. They were scheduled to hike from Fort Funston to Mori Point and Pacifica.

Finally, they arrived. I could not believe how great they all looked. Dressed in windbreakers or long-sleeved shirts, hats emblazoned with Coastwalk, sunglasses, some had gloves with the fingertips cut off, kerchiefs around their necks, backpacks or camelbacks (those modern-day slim backpacks that you fill with water). They also had various kinds of footwear. Let me describe their footwear.

Some of the hikers actually had on hiking boots. This is a hike after all. Others wore sneakers. Well, okay, this was a more civilized trail being just outside the city. But a couple of them had on “all-terrain” sandals. When asked about their shoes, they replied that they wore whatever felt the best. It was said that one of the hikers has four different pairs of hiking footwear. She changes to a different one each day and has never had a single blister – 400+ miles and not one blister. What kind of memories is she going to have of this Expedition!

Their spirits were great and they smiled and laughed. They were more than willing to share some of their adventures with anyone who asked. They had been getting quite a bit of publicity in the Bay Area, and people would drive by and honk and wave at them. Other people were standing near the trail and cheering them on and shouting congratulations. Some would approach them and shake their hands. In return, well-wishers were handed a small brochure that gave a brief description of the CTE ’03 and the website, www.californiacoastaltrail.info, so they could be virtual walkers and read the hikers’ journal every day.

At Mori Point, we were met by a large group: reporters, members of several organizations including Coastwalk and Trails Forever, persons from the California Coastal Conservancy, representatives of the City of Pacifica, women, men, children; even a couple of dogs showed up to greet the hikers. Speeches were made; mementos and refreshments were handed to the hikers. Pleasantries were exchanged. Tales were told. Then the hikers had to be on their way. They have to be at the California-Mexico border on September 22, and they have a long way to go. Watching the hikers gathering together to continue their journey, everyone wished them a safe and memorable journey. A few miles up the trail, the Mayor of Pacifica was waiting to wish them well and to offer words of thanks for bringing attention to the importance of preserving open space for future generations. Then, with all the fanfare behind them, the hikers went back to doing what they will be doing for the next couple of months…hiking the California Coast Trail. I am looking forward to being one of many people who will be greeting the hikers when they arrive at the California-Mexico border. Until then, I can follow the hikers and live their hike day by day, on-line, and wear my footwear of choice…lambs wool fluffy slippers. (Cyndy Spita, Honorary Member CTE ’03; photos, Linda Hanes)

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