PCT Days this year opened on Saturday at 8:30 a.m., so Marnie and I decided to get there at opening time in order to get a good parking space on the road. There were many, many more people there this year than prior years, mostly hikers, and Thunder Island (the camping area) was full to the brim with tents. We walked around and visited the vendor booths and picked up the goodies they were offering – there were stickers, headbands, lip balm, and even a cork massage ball, which if you buy one can cost as much as $10, so that was a great gift! There were a lot of things available that we didn’t even take. Marnie won a raffle prize from Backpacker Magazine. They played, “Never Have I Ever”, and she still had nine fingers up out of ten at the end of the game. The first ones out and the last ones standing got prizes.
There were a couple more food trucks this year than there have been in years past, but we went to the Eastwind Drive-In for our lunch again. They have a walk-up side and a drive-up side, but instead of having the walk-up side open they only opened the drive-up side so we stood in line with the cars to get our lunch. With cars driving in and others trying to get out of the parking lot, it was an interesting experience! Eventually cars and people were lined up clear out into the bike lane. When we were almost to the front of the line a couple of hikers named Galileo and Something Else came up and asked if we would get them milkshakes since we were already in line, and of course we said we would. Something Else was wearing a California flag as a cape, and Galileo was wearing a white tablecloth with lace inserts as a poncho or toga. It looked like he had had his friends sign his tablecloth. Fun!
As we made our rounds we were able to find Marmalade who we met in 2019 (on YouTube at Marmalade Outdoors), and we found our friend SnuzzNuzz who we spent time with in SoCal. SnuzzNuzz was very happy to see us, and it was nice to visit with both of them. We talked with a hiker named Autograph and SnuzzNuzz while we were sitting at one of the picnic tables, and the couple next to us had brought a whole large watermelon and a big knife and cutting board from home and she started cutting up that watermelon right then and there! The lady offered us each a slice of watermelon, which we gladly accepted. She got out all sorts of other food to share as well. We also found Legend, who we were not expecting to see! He is a trail angel and was setting up the hostel in Campo when we were there, and we spent a lot of time with him helping with the hostel and getting rides to and fro. He is hiking the trail with a German girl and they are only doing 5 to 10 miles a day, which Legend says is perfect for him. We stopped by the booth where Liz Thomas (who wrote the Long Trails book) was signing books and got a photo with her. She posted our photo on Instagram and had me do a video testimonial for her book! I wasn’t sure what to say but I hope it helped. I found another hiker named Ninja from Japan, and heard from someone else that there is a German girl also named Ninja. We were told that the Japanese Ninja looks more like a ninja then I do, ha. We found Boomerang, another hiker we met in SoCal at the Gold Rush Hotel in Julian. He and his friend Sailor had given us advice about our pack weight. We also met Kyle and Flossy from the Kyle Hates Hiking YouTube channel, and they were very gracious and let us fangirl for a minute! We saw Turtle, who we had met down at Scissors Crossing near Julian, Jupiter from his JupiterHikes YouTube channel, and Manny from Manny on Trail, also from YouTube.
We didn’t spend a whole lot of time looking in the vendor booths because neither of us really need anything, although I tried on an alpaca zip-up sweater in the Arms of Andes booth and it was really nice. The $250 price tag was a little high for my budget, though, but I am considering saving up for it. It is something that would last forever. There was a big stuffed alpaca at the booth and it was covered in real alpaca wool. We enjoyed petting it because it was so soft, and I thought they should make portable alpacas to use as stress relievers! It’s very calming to snuggle an alpaca!
We participated in a couple of vendor raffles but didn’t win anything at those. There were a ton of people at the Granite Gear giveaway as usual, and we could hardly hear the man as he called out the trail names they drew, he needed a megaphone! They Hyperlite Mountain Gear booth was giving out some nice prizes too, so I was a bit disappointed not to have won anything there. Marnie’s prizes from the Backpacker Magazine raffle were a hat and a little snap-together bowl. She also got a free hat from the Sawyer booth. I didn’t take a hat because I have so many already!
We saw people in many interesting outfits, a couple of girls were wearing satin lingerie robes as sweaters (I suppose they are light!) and one was wearing both the matching nightgown and robe! I think a few hikers had stopped by some thrift stores and picked out some things, ha. There were men in kilts and even skirts, and then the usual interesting thru-hiker ensembles. The people watching is always fun at PCT Days!
We both decided not to buy tickets to the big raffle at the end of the day, because the last couple of years we haven’t won anything and we didn’t know if we wanted to stay that late. We did end up leaving around 4:30 or 5:00 so we got home at a decent hour (still past my bedtime though!). The weather wasn’t too hot, which we appreciated, though we each did get a bit sunburned. All in all it was definitely a fun day!