Something had to go. Both backpacks were full and the beer had not been packed. "I can live on two Clif bars and a bag of trail mix so lose the crackers and sardines," one said. "I'll take out two shirts but I'm keeping my food," the other answered. That was the discussion this morning in front of Jack's Grocery as two young hikers prepared to continue their journey on the Pacific Crest Trail.

It had come down to food or beer for these two 20somethings as they moved forward on their adventure. "We left before the kick-off so we could stay ahead of the crowd," one informed me. They had arrived in Julian, the 80-mile point of the trail, and were about to get a ride to Scissors Crossing to pick up the trail this morning. Their next stop was 20 miles ahead at Warner Springs.

The official kick-off for the 2013 season of the PCT was today at Lake Morena. Crowds gathered at the county park to prepare to start the 2650-mile journey that spans from Mexico to Canada. A group called Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick-Off ( ADZPCTKO.com) organized this years' hike and have placed employees or volunteers along the way to assist the travelers. The group also created a website with updates on the trail including weather and trail conditions such as closures.

For one hiker named Barry (who asked that I not use his last name) it was important to start at the very beginning which is miles beyond Lake Morena. He went all the way to the statue that marks the beginning of the trail which is literally feet from the Mexican border at the edge of Campo. He needed to walk past the juvenile detention facility called Rancho del Campo where he was once incarcerated. During his hike he planned to let go of the past and purge himself of the guilt and remorse over the decisions that placed him in a boys' prison. For him, the trail was a path to a new tomorrow.

According to my Kindle, a number of hikers have written books and blogs about experiences on the PCT. One woman, named Cheryl Strayed wrote "Wild:From Lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail," and is enjoying all kinds of success from her story.

In the days to come, I'm sure we will meet many hikers and hear many stories as they pass through the town of Julian. I look forward to it.

For now: SherryD

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