Well, today I managed to get sucked into something I successfully avoided on AT and that is a vortex.
I wake at 5:40, a minute later I hear raindrops on the tarp (which stayed taut all night, yay!). I roll over for a few more minutes sleep. By 6 it seems to have passed and it’s properly light out- time to get packed before the rain returns. 6:30 I’m on the trail, once again in all my layers. I had no idea it would be this cold in the desert. A few times it sprinkles but I seem to outpace it. It doesn’t look super nice in the mountains.
Soon enough I’m down on the desert floor and it’s windy AF. Again! I don’t even know anymore what’s sunburn and what’s windburn. Definitely makes me hustle to the road; I’m’a check out Julian for sure to get out of this for a few. It takes me 10 minutes and 4 cars to get a ride. “Watch out for the mousetrap,” the lady says as I get in. Oh boy, should be an interesting ride. Actually she’s super cool tho, is a real estate agent locally and knows a ton of the history from the area. She slows down on a certain bend in the road to show me where the gold mines were.
I ask her to drop me at Mom’s, which offers a free slice of apple pie to thru hikers. They need to see my ID and permit first…oooooook, but fair enough. Not only do you get a choice of pie (I go for the apple boysenberry, with crumb topping), they throw in some ice cream and a coffee. For free! What?
After I’ve got myself in a right gluten-and-sugar-fog I head across the street to Carmen’s, who is a legend among trail angels. Oh no! The sign says closed. Then the plastic sign underneath flips up to reveal “Except for hiker trash”. What even is this place.
I go in to find Carmen took a look at the weather that morning and decided not to open so that she could host more hikers, all day. There’s a tiny dog running around, Carmen is making giant breakfast burritos every half hour or so, making sure everyone has been hugged and has a beer, she’s got a glass of wine and a cigarette in hand before noon. Hikers in and out all day, some taking advantage of laundry, others local trail angels who hang out daily and give rides. I meet my first fellow thruhiking vets- AT, PCT, others. I nerd out for about 2 hours with this other guy who also has a 7lb baseweight. Maybe the trail is the right place for me, after all.
I hear there’s a chance of rain and it’s going to be even windier tonight, fuck it, I’m staying the night inside. 24 miles to Mountain Valley Retreat where I have a box, I’ll do it.
Around 7 Carmen tells everyone the deal with the “sit bath” (sure to violate some sort of restaurant code so I won’t go into details) and leaves us the restaurant to move tables and roll out our mats. Yes, she left the restaurant to a bunch of strangers. Gives one a whole lot of hope for mankind.
Shortly before bed the guy whose name I can never remember comes in. “Hypotenuse! Where’s Hypotenuse?” People aren’t sure. “Dunno who that is.” “She’s 35, hikes in a dress, tiny pack.” “I think she might’ve pushed on,” someone offers. I’m pretty sure they are talking about me, let’s see how this plays out. “Ohhhhh, do you mean Haiku?” “Yeah, I’m still here,” I call out. He wants me to commit to hitching early with him, f that. I say probably early but I’m playing it by ear. But, Hypotenuse! That’s an even more random name than Haiku. We all laugh. Should I switch my name now? What are the rules about this?