Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mile 36: Hiking again!

Yay, we're finally on the trail again! After the rain and crispy days at Lake Morena, desert heat was far from our minds. We woke up at the leisurely hour of six (people had been packing up and leaving since four thirty), packed, had first breakfast, and left at eight. We didn't realize that the PCT actually goes THROUGH the campground, so we tried to pick it up where we had left off, and got plenty of funny looks until somebody took pity and pointed us in the right direction.

As we were packing up and Carmen was dealing with her stuff at the picnic table, a very spry old man with a long white beard who'd been singing back and forth with a friend all morning long came over and introduced himself as Gandalf, just wanting to be friendly since it seemed like I was alone and needed a friend. I know Tolkein's world doesn't extend much into our own, but it did feel like he was magic from the wide, unshakeable grin he left on my face. I hope we run into him more on the trail ahead.

We hiked with a guy from Nashville (with a confusing disappearing Australian accent) with the trail name of Anika. I actually asked, "What's the story behind that, since it sounds like a girl's name?" He actually chose it for himself, it comes from the Sanskrit word for "transient." We were both embarassed at that point.

We ate second breakfast (yes, we are becoming hobbits) with a female solo hiker named Burny/Bernie, she seems super nice but quiet- a nice break from kick-off personalities. We were passed by an ultralight hiker who never quite got Carmen's name right- "Carmine? Carmeng?" even when Carmen got me to intervene and say it with a different mouth. That was a bit awkward.

A guy named Pat refused to pass us, but was on our heels. Finally, I asked if he was using us to pace off of and he admitted yes, saying things like, "Slow and steady is the way to go," "Gotta slow down and stay strong," "Slow is hard to so but the easiest path to success." It seemed rather insulting, but I think it was with no such intention.

We had lunch with a guy we'd seen a lot of at the kick-off, he yelled "You're too hyper!" to us as we pranced, laughing hysterically, over a creeklet to the dry and warm pavilion. Next morning we saw Dan in a tangle of sil-nylon, and he said, "Don't give me funny looks, I forgot my tent stakes!" He is actually a really nice guy (it's all in the delivery), and he's hiking with his sixteen year old younger brother Joe. I think Carmen may have offended their delicate, pastor-raised and homeschooled sensibilities when she said, "god fucking damnit!" emphatically about something, but if they'll forgive our uncouth, smelly, hairy, and stinky ways, we really hope to hike more with them in the future. While we were lying around napping under the trees next to the creek, Dan asked, "I am sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but why do you have bear spray in southern California?" I explained that it's man spray out of bear country. "And you BOTH have a can because...?" because we're most likely to need it when we're separated.

We had enough water to dry camp, and found a really nice spot that we'll have to ourself since the stream nearby is dry. A guy we have been leapfrogging with all day named Chance hung out while we made dinner: mac'n'cheese with tuna and more cheese and even more cheese (it was delicious, same cuisine as our previous meals of couscous with chunks of cheese and split pea paste with cheese). He told about his $25 highly efficient adjustable alcohol stove and junk food stories from the Appalachian Trail. I was bummed when he had to move on to get water. I hope we see more of him too.

In the afternoon, I took an off-trail detour with trowel and tp in hand as Carmen continued hiking. I found a spot up on the hillside where I couldn't see the trail, and once crouched down among the bushes, couldn't see hardly anything. A moment after standing up and pulling my pants up, I hear, "Do you need help, is everything ok?" and I see the torsos of two hikers floating in field of bushes below where the trail must be Uh, fine, fine, everything is perfectly fine, don't come up here. They continued to try to have a shouting conversation with me! Then they decided to wait for me by my abandoned pack below. When I got back, they proceeded to tell me I didn't need to go so far away. I should have stuck around to give a lecture on exactly why everybody needs to "go" far away, but, embarassed at my audience, I high-tailed it out of there as fast as I could after giving cursory explanations to their questions.

- Typoed on my iPhone

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