Day -58: TRAIL ANGELS!!!!

Day -58: TRAIL ANGELS!!!!

I can’t believe I didn’t think of posting this earlier.

How do you get from San Diego to the trail head?  After thinking about it for a while, my best solution was to fly in April 20th, take a bus, get off the bus 1.6 miles from the trailhead, and camp.  Starting the same day as flying is really not the best idea, you’d be hiking in the mid day heat in the desert at low altitude (this desert goes up to 10k feet, so it isn’t always hot).

If you are doing it by yourself, it turns out people think the above plan is about as good as you can do (unless you like hemorrhaging money and want to rent a car or hire a taxi or some nonsense)

I posted a question on Facebook, and people gave me an email address to some trail angels that might be willing to help me out.

I am absolutely astonished by the result!




Hi guys.

I don’t even know how to ask for such exceptional help!

I am starting the trail April 21.  Intend to fly in from Seattle on the 20th.

… That hard to ask for help thing…
Would you be able to help me get from the airport to the trail the next morning?
If so, do you have a preferred time of day for me to arrive in San Diego?


Sent from my iPhone

Scout and Frodo

10:42 pm (1 day ago)
to me

Dear Charlie,


We will be happy to help you.  I have pasted in below the information we provide to hikers who contact us.  Please read it, as it will answer most of your questions. (And if you don’t read it and then ask me a question that is answered in our info, I may make fun of you!)


Note that we host hikers overnight and drive to the trail each morning at 6:00.  We typically have 5 to 25 hikers each night.

If you could arrive around noon, we have a couple other hikers to pick up around then.  If that doesn’t work for you, then anytime is ok.


The Forest Service has put in place a PCT permit quota system that allows 50 thru-hikers to start from Campo each day.  The PCTA administers this system.  On Feb 1st, reservations became available for up to 35 permits per day.  The remaining 15 permits per day became available on Tuesday, Feb 16th.  Check out


Personally, we think the permit system is a good idea, to protect the trail and the thru-hike experience.  I am convinced that if there were no permit system in place, there would be mornings in which 250 to 300 hikers would start.  There aren’t places for that many people to camp, as you move up the trail!


So we ask that you work with the system and respect the trail and please reserve your permit before you sign up with us.  We can accommodate everyone who has a permit, so don’t worry that we’ll be booked full.


Once you have requested your permit, please go to

<edited out>

and fill out the form to stay with us.  This will automatically add you to our spreadsheet.


If you don’t have your arrival information yet, be sure to follow the directions on how to edit your entry once you have made those arrangements.


On Monday, March 7th, I plan to send out a copy of the spreadsheet, so you can check your information.  Thereafter, we may continue to send out an updated copy every couple weeks or so, so new folks can check their info.


About three days before you arrive, we will send you an email with specifics about when and where we will meet you, etc.


Good luck with all your preparations!


Frodo (aka Sandy)




Greetings, 2016 PCTers!  We’ve hosted hikers in San Diego the past ten years.  Over 325 stayed with us last year.  We’ll pick you up, give you a place to stay, and get you out to the trailhead.  We enjoy helping you start on your adventure. We thru-hiked in 2007 (


Two things right off:  1) If you are new to thru-hiking, an excellent resource is Yogi’s PCT Handbook, available at  It provides answers to all kinds of questions, from the perspectives of many successful thru-hikers. 2) Make sure you know about the PCT permit system and the 50-per-day limit.  Check out
We are in the fortunate position of not needing to charge money for hosting hikers; we do not even accept donations.  We do encourage hikers to join the PCTA if they are not already members.  If you appreciate our help, you can buy a copy of Scout’s book when it is published.

Contact Information:  Email:
Address: Barney and Sandy Mann, <edited out>, San Diego, CA 92122
Phones:        <edited out> Scout’s cell   <edited out> Frodo’s cell
House Location: A San Diego neighborhood called University City, 12 miles north of downtown, just inland from La Jolla. (Don’t go to Wellesley Street in La Mesa.)

Airport: We live about 11 miles north of the airport, 20 minutes by car.
Train:  Ask us whether you should arrive at the Solana Beach station or the downtown station.  It depends on whether we’re making an airport run at the same time.
Bus: The Greyhound Bus station is located downtown, 15 miles away, fairly near the airport.

Grocery Stores:  Two grocery stores are just over 1/2 mile away, one a Von’s and the other is Sprouts, a natural-foods market.
Post Office: Next to Sprouts Market.

Mailing/Shipping:  Feel free to have gear shipped here or to mail packs or packages here and we will hold them for your arrival.  Have both your and our name on the package. (See address above.) We will also have boxes available if you need to ship things ahead or back home.

Fuel: 2014 and 2015 were severe drought years and alcohol stoves were discouraged, to protect the wildlands. We no longer provide alcohol here. Canister stoves are generally safer and easy to use.  We will have canisters available for purchase at cost.


Marijuana:  We believe in live and let live, but there’s a mandatory border checkpoint on our drive back from the trailhead. Once, one of our drivers was detained for an hour as his vehicle was searched because the dogs smelled pot.  Please don’t plan to carry any pot in any of our vehicles.
Meals:  Generally we’ll provide breakfast and dinner, with leftovers or sandwich fixings for lunch.  Often hikers staying with other San Diego hosts join us for a communal dinner.  Let us know if you are vegetarian (and if fish is okay), vegan, gluten-intolerant, lactose-intolerant, etc.

Trip to Campo/Southern Terminus:  We leave at 6:00 a.m., to arrive at the border monument shortly after sunrise.  The drive takes about 75 minutes.

Arrival: Make sure we have the flight info for the flight that ARRIVES in San Diego.  If you change planes somewhere we assume you’ll call if you miss your connection.  At the airport, we will pick you up at Terminal 1, curbside Section H or Terminal 2, Section P.  At the bus and train stations we usually meet hikers at the curb.
Luggage/Duffel Bag:  Protect that pack.  Most folks either pack everything in a duffel they can ship home, or hit the Thrift shop for cheap luggage they can ditch here.  If you are going by Greyhound make sure you actually see your pack make each transfer.  In 2006 Sunset’s pack stayed in Tennessee.


Charlie Hough
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