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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mile 1049.9: a not so lovely day and an amazing off-trail hitch

When I put my boots on this morning, it hurt my foot, BAD. Walking felt worse. The gorgeous scenery of canyons through volcanic rock, and, um, other pretty stuff like that was destroyed by the pain accompanying every single step. Previously, my foot only hurt if I stepped WRONG on it, so I could just step my way carefully and tediously. Today, it hurt no matter what.

It took me 4 hours to hike 6 miles. At HWY 4, a man named Doug had set up amazing trail magic. Microburst and Sweet 16 were waiting for me there, getting increasingly worried. It was there, over fresh pineapple, cantaloupe, strawberries, oranges, and bananas, accompanied by hot dogs, cheeseburgers, potato salad and beans, that we decided with zero resistance that I should hitch ahead to South Lake Tahoe, where family friends would (hopefully) let me heal while the other two hiked the remaining miles to our next planned resupply. Before I left, Doug told us about his years as a bomb expert for the Postal Service, including working on the Unibomber and a mail bombing case in Anchorage.

I walked down the road to a pullout, ready for an easy hitch, as all of our hitches have been. After 15 entire minutes and multiple cars passing by, I was starting to wonder if our hitching luck was attributable to the other girls, not me. Another string of cars passed by, and I stuck my thumb out again. I smiled bigger and more hopefully as each passed, until I recognized the last was a taxi cab. Confused, I shrank my arm back to my side as the van pulled over. "No, I'm sorry, I can't pay for a ride! Thanks for pulling over though!"
"Don't worry, I'm going this way anyway, hop in."

I was only hoping for a ride down to Markleeville, where I could call the family friends and hitch to 89, hitch to 50, and hitch to South Lake Tahoe, but Jason was going to South Lake Tahoe for a live music-beach bar-gig thing. Lucky me! It ended up being the best hitch I'll probably ever get in my entire life. The conversation was interesting, and introduced me to some bands I'd never heard of but liked. When we got to South Lake Tahoe, I hadn't yet gotten a hold of the family I was hoping to stay with, so I ended up hanging out at the beach bar, people watching and enjoying live covers of some good classic songs. He bought me a beer, and when I had determined a rendezvous point with Patti, he took me out for delicious good sushi and sake and then dropped me off. Voila! The nicest hitch I'll ever have the luck of getting. No awkwardness, no inappropriate requests, just a really good time.

So I'm here, chilling in South Lake Tahoe, trying to stay off my foot as much as possible, purging extra Sierra weight from my pack, and hoping to heal and get back on the trail in a few days, sans one short section. I'm not being "true to the through" but I'd rather sacrifice the purity of my hike than my chances of completing it.

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