Day Zero: Feeling Anxious at Scout & Frodo’s

I’m sitting on a couch at Scout and Frodo’s in San Diego, surrounded by other hikers who are weighing their packs, writing blog posts, and snacking. Outside there are three white tents filled with sleeping bags and packs, USPS priority boxes and Smart Water bottles. Alley is with me, flipping through the beautiful coffee table book Scout made honoring the Pacific Crest Trail. I wasn’t sure if Alley would be able to stay with me for the day, but Rolling Thunder, the volunteer who gave us a tour when we arrived here, immediately invited her to stay for dinner. So she will. I’m so glad. I’m way more anxious than I expected to be. So, so nervous, actually, and I keep feeling like I might burst into tears. I’m excited — of course I am — but fuck, I’m also so nervous!! I didn’t anticipate feeling this way. 

Home for the night – Scout and Frodo set up 3 big white tents in their yard and hikers set up our sleeping bags inside!

I wrote that first paragraph at 2pm this afternoon and now it’s 8pm. I’m still anxious, but less so. 

The neighborhood where Scout and Frodo live is filled with beautiful gardens – I found some California poppies in front of their house and they momentarily calmed me. I remembered how Tita taught me you can make an anti-anxiety tincture out of California poppies and I felt grateful for the plant knowledge I know now that I didn’t just a few years ago, and I felt excited for the future knowledge I may obtain on this upcoming adventure. What will I know about flowers six months from now? What will I know about everything six months from now?


It’s been written a lot in many different trail blogs, but Scout and Frodo and their setup in San Diego is truly incredible. For readers who haven’t been researching the PCT obsessively for months, Scout and Frodo are legendary trail angels who host PCT hikers the night before they start the trail. You can learn more about them on their website. They’ve been hosting hikers for 10 years and this year they are going to host 900+ hikers! It’s pretty cool to feel like a small part of a greater whole — I am experiencing right now what so many hikers before me and after me have also experienced and will also experience. And I haven’t even set foot on the trail yet!

This is what you see when you arrive at Scout and Frodo’s!

There is still so much movement happening in the house, although it is now 9pm and we’re waking up at 5am to leave the house by 6. I want to sit and write but I’m also anxious about missing out on anything. Anxiety anxiety – seems to be the theme of my PCT-prep / life. Ugh. I wish it wasn’t so but I don’t know how to let go of it, or I’m not trying hard enough to let go of it? I’m not sure which is true. I saw my mom in LA a couple of days ago and I told her, “I can’t wait to get on the trail because then I won’t be able to worry about any of this stuff anymore; whatever isn’t done just won’t get done!” My mom pointed out how nice that is. “It is,” I agreed. “It’s part of why I’m doing this, I think.” Alley laughed. “It’s a huge reason why you’re doing this!” 

I was so relieved when my resupply boxes were packed! One less thing to worry about. Thank you Susie for being an amazing resupply angel!

She’s not wrong. I’ve always had trouble shutting off, slowing down, making my brain take a breath. I usually don’t mind – I pride myself on some of these traits and definitely appreciate my “East Coast Attitude,” my “Capricorn Nature,” etc etc. But the truth is it can be tiring and it can be really uncomfortable. Some people know how to calm themselves, how to relax. They shut off their phones or they declare Sunday a “no tech” day or they just don’t make that millionth to-do list. I haven’t figured out how to do those self regulations. So I take myself to the woods, because then I’m forced to put my phone on airplane mode and literally turn off for a while. And I feel calm, and safe, and happy. I feel good.

I’ve written versions of this story about myself before, but it never stops ringing true. 

At the end of a hike in Sisters, OR last summer. I feel so good outside – I love this photo of myself so much because I remember how happy I was in this moment.

Anyway! I’ll be going to sleep soon. A bunch of friends have texted me and called me to say goodbye and I love you and I’m proud of you and you got this, and every message means so much. The truth is – I’m scared. I didn’t feel scared until today but now I am. I know I can do this. I know I will! But I’ve been feeling pretty chill about the whole thing and today suddenly I was crying into Alley’s cheek as she got ready to leave me at Scout and Frodo’s with my 44 new friends (LOL), whispering: I’m scared, what if I can’t do this, I’m scared. So thanks, everyone who has sent me sweet motivational loving messages. They are seriously appreciated and I love you all. 

I’m gonna do this! I’m gonna walk from Mexico to Canada! I can do it!

But first, I’ve gotta sleep through tonight. Wish me luck…

My face looks weird because I was anxious and had been crying but look! My pack’s all ready! Gotta go bye!

14 thoughts on “Day Zero: Feeling Anxious at Scout & Frodo’s

  1. Rhonda Johnson says:

    Wow, I felt emotional just reading this. I don’t know you but I’m wishing you a magical injury/blister free journey. You can do this!👣

  2. Fine says:

    Bering nervous (or also momentaneously anxious) before such a big adventure is normal, the important thing is to do it anyway! You’re brave, and I am so looking forward to hearing more of your stories from the PCT – you’re doing it!

  3. Jill Hectpr says:

    Don’t know why I thought you started Saturday. Wow, Thursday!!! You’ll be great. Glad to know there will be many others. Deep breaths, in through your nose, out through your mouth 👄! Have a wonderful experience. BTW, you’re not the only one who is anxious!!! Love you 😍!!!

  4. Jenny Bruso says:

    Totally cried toward the end of this. I also did not expect you to respond to my texts earlier. Losing my wise words. I am so excited for everything. I love you and I love that you’re doing this. You know how you said “what if I can’t do this?” You already are. You are doing it. There’s no way to predict the future, but right now you are there because you got yourself there and it is happening. You’ve already made a huge and admirable leap of faith. Let the rest play out.

  5. Lucy says:

    I love your post and I totally relate to being bad at switching off and having no tech days, at really relaxing, until you get into the woods.
    My hiking is largely confined to 7/8 mile walks in London’s green spaces but, there’s a lot here that I could relate to. Thanks for writing.
    Best of luck on your thru hike.

  6. Judy Newton says:

    I am going to enjoy following you on your journey!! My 26 year old grandson and a friend started the Pacific Crest Trail on March 28 and as of last night, he was at mile 328. I hear from him every couple of days, but I feel like following you and your blog will give me a more complete feel what he is experiencing!! I wish you the best of luck and hope your journey is everything you want it to be!!!

  7. Erika Lawson says:

    Hi Vanessa – It was great to meet you this morning on the drive out to the trail head! I hope you had a great first day and I look forward to reading your blog as you head north. Be safe!!!

  8. Tam says:

    Vanessa you can do it! You already ARE doing it! AND you have the support of all of us! Your fans! We are rooting for you and will continue to be cheering you on. No doubt it must be overwhelming beyond imaginable. I was a mess before hiking the LT the morning I left and that was only a month but I was a mess. It seems so normal to be a mess, and excited, and scared and anxious and other things all at the same time. Nothing like a hike to calm the nerves!

  9. withoutthedullbits says:

    We don’t know each other but I’m super excited to go with you on this journey! Don’t be scared you have so many people backing you already. Best of luck and I look forward to reading your adventure!

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