It’s MoJo Day, smile and say “CCT”!
By Bridget Altman
Editor’s Note — A few months ago, we wrote about two amazing women who were about to start hiking the entire California Coastal Trail. They started the journey on May 1 and recently completed it! MST contributing writer Bridget Altman was in San Diego for the final leg of the trip.
1,200 miles, 96 days, 15 counties, 2 hikers, 1 incredible adventure. This is the story of how August 4th came to be known as “MoJo Day”.
Back in March, we learned about Morgan Visalli (Mo), Jocelyn Enevoldsen (Jo) and the MoJo Coastwalk. Starting on May 1, 2016, the girls hiked 1,200 miles to raise awareness for the California Coastal Trail (CCT), a walk they called the “MoJo Coastwalk”. The CCT was first proposed in 1972 to connect the California/Oregon border to the California/Mexico border, with the Pacific Ocean in sight the entire trail. Spanning over 100 different jurisdictions, 15 counties, and some private property, the trail was never fully completed. These lovely ladies aimed to create a record of its progress, noting where signage could be added or modified, and reporting what parts of the trail needed more serious maintenance. After following the MoJo Coastwalk on social media throughout their epic journey, MST was able to catch up with Morgan and Jocelyn to discuss what they learned, some challenges they faced and some of their favorite aspects of the trip.
I was invited to join the MoJo Coastwalk crew as they walked the final 12 miles of the California Coastal Trail, from the historic Hotel del Coronado to Border Field State Park at the Mexican Border. Walking along with Morgan and Jocelyn was Allison, the woman behind the scenes who helped make it all happen. She drove the support vehicle that carried heavy gear and emergency supplies and kept up with the girls for the entire hike. Morgan and Jocelyn’s supportive families joined in for this last leg of the hike, as well as several representatives from the Coastal Conservancy and the California Coastal Commission. The energy coming from these ladies was contagious. Each person participating in these last few miles was filled with pure joy for the accomplishments of Morgan and Jocelyn.
Approximately seven miles from the Hotel Del Coronado, the group arrived at Imperial Beach and was greeted by a government official. He told us that the mayor of Imperial Beach would be joining us for lunch and for the last remaining stretch of the hike down to the border. Serge Dedina, Executive Director of WILDCOAST and Mayor of Imperial Beach, gave a speech that moved us all to tears, and motivated us to continue the trek.
“Everyone deserves access to this beautiful coast. There is nothing more sacred than this shoreline. There is no other place in the world where people express themselves so joyfully as along the shore. [Morgan and Jocelyn] have done more these past few months to celebrate this and make sure that nobody, regardless of ethnicity or economic background, is ever stopped from enjoying this coast!” Dedina exclaimed. He then proclaimed August 4 to be “MoJo Day” in Imperial Beach.
With our bellies full and our hearts happy, we trekked onward. The girls told me their favorite part of the hike was the ruggedness of Northern California in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties. They shared with me that they felt the most rewarding part of their journey was raising awareness for the trail, since many folks they ran into along the way had not even heard of the trail that runs through their own backyard. They explained to me that at each stop they made, they generated content for the CCT app, Explore the Coast, which is sponsored by the Coastal Conservancy. The app highlights unique biological, geological, and cultural features along the trail. They were sure to acknowledge the native people who for thousands of years walked along the California coast. Morgan and Jocelyn kept these indigenous spirits in mind as they hiked from Oregon down to Mexico.
“The California Coastal Trail is a modern incarnation of an ancient indigenous trail. The indigenous peoples of the coast planned for the future with 7 generations in mind. We need to take that lesson to heart to defend the coast for as many people as possible,” Jocelyn so eloquently said.
We were suddenly less than 2 miles from the border, but we had reached an impasse; everyone had to cross the Tijuana River. Though there was a jet ski willing to shuttle us across, the river was shallow enough to wade through carefully. Chest deep in the water, we cheered loudly as the Border fence became visible. Soaking wet, and anxiously walking faster than before, I asked Morgan for one word to describe her current thoughts. “AHHH!!!!! Is that a word?” she said, squealing with delight for the end was literally in sight.
Morgan, Jocelyn and Allison began to run. They reached the Border. Tears started to fall. The three girls hugged in a well-deserved moment of pure joy and pride! All of us who joined for these last few miles were also crying. These girls set their mind to walking over 1,200 miles to ensure that all people, regardless of where they come from, have access to the beautiful coastline of California. And they succeeded.
Jocelyn had some encouraging words for those who hope to follow in her literal footsteps. “Just keep walking! You don’t have to be an athlete to do this, anyone who wants to can walk this trail. Just put one foot in front of the other.”
Throughout their journey, Mo and Jo encouraged people they encountered along the way to spread the word about the California Coastal Trail. When I asked them if there was anything I should be sure to tell you readers, their response should be of no surprise: “Tell three friends about the California Coastal Trail!”
Copyright © 2016 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.