White cargo vans and strangers offering me candy have lost their creepy connotation. In fact, now we call them the physical therapist (a lovely woman is working out of her van with hikers) and trail angels (those would be the strangers). I even regularly get into cars with strangers who offer me rides. That is to say, I hitchhike into towns.
The week began and ended (and was filled!) with these themes – to get back to the trail from Julian, a driver picked myself and my town buddy (I don’t know what else to call her) up from Julian and drove us down to scissors crossing. The one thing he asked from us? That we hold his 9 week old puppy on the drive down. Amazing.
Then, to end the week, I stayed in the back yard at Richards place, which is across the high way from Paradise Valley Cafe. I think he is a relatively new trail angel, but he says that having all us hikers around helps him feel young even while being a caregiver to a 92 year old gentleman. I showered, did laundry, pet some dogs, and used the wifi and outlets.
Feeling Like a Thru Hiker
These times of generosity, where people ask, “are you a PCT hiker?” and I have to say yes, helped to make me feel like maybe I am a PCT hiker. Some of these first moments where I really felt like I was a thru hiker, and that maybe I did have the desire to hike all the way to Canada came between those moments as well. Thank goodness they did, because I wasnt sure how much more of my cold feet I was willing to push through.
The first time I felt it, wasn’t exactly pleasant – the first night out of Julian, I ate a take out salad out of a bag (because the takeout container was obviously too heavy) and the wind was so strong that my tent was flat on top of me instead of being a tent. After reading about the wind in Southern California that hikers I admire had experienced, it felt like I was finally a PCT hiker. I ended up taking down my tent around midnight and cowboy camped the rest of the night.
Let’s just say that I was tired enough that the next night was the best sleep I’ve gotten on trail.
Another aspect of feeling like a thru hiker is that I have begun to use my trail name!
A woman suggested “tuck in” for me back in Mount Laguna. She said that it fit because every time she’d seen me, I had been tucked into a bit of shade off the trail, some what out of site. I wasn’t sure about that one, but when I explained this to Condor (another hiker, not a bird) she suggested “Nook”. I took a few days to let that marinate, and then when I started introducing myself as Nook! I think it will stick.
I am not an ultralight hiker by any means. I mean shucks, I am carrying a nalgene instead of just smart water water bottles! (Yes, that’s a thing). But, another thru hiker moment for me was sitting in my tent, cutting the labels off of everything in site so that I could throw them away. Got to get rid of those grams! Id say my philosophy in what I am carrying it that if I am not using it, I should get rid of it. And I sure wasn’t using those tags.
Picking up my first Resupply package in Warner Springs also helped me feel like a thru hiker. It was the easiest and fastest hitch I’ve had yet – a lovely older couple pulled over and offered me baked goods just as I was walking into the community center (yes I took those baked goods from strangers, are them and shared them with everyone around!). I asked for a ride since it was only a short distance to the post office. They drove me there, waited for me to pick up my package, and then drove me back. Other people’s generosity sure does make my life much simpler on trail!
I also had my biggest mileage day yet during this week, and I’d like to keep adding to it! Unfortunately, at the end of it, I took off my socks and noticed that the giant mambo blister had gotten so big it emerged from the tape I had put over it. Pretty gross, but here is a picture anyways.
I popped it beacaue I wasn’t sure that thing was going to fit back into my shoe. A fabulous decision. With a big ole mole foam donut around it and paper tape keeping the foam in place, it hurts less and less everyday.
Of course, that just means there are new blisters in new places, but I’ll take the win, especially since next I’m headed up into the still snowy San Jacinto mountains. Fortunately, the snow will keep my feet from getting hot enough to cause any more new blisters.
Things that made me smile
Day 8: the puppy in the hitch!
Day 9: the blooming cacti
Day 10: Introducing myself to a circle of breakfasting hikers as Nook
Day 11: Getting to eagle rock was pretty darn cool – the lizards chasing eachother on eagle rock is what made me smile though!
Day 12: bird song (not just chirping) as I started my hike in the morning
Day 13: slope full of popcorn flowers
Day 14 hearing that the gal who got airlifted out due to heat exhaustion is already thinking she will get back on trail.
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