Woke up to a really gorgeous sunrise and watched it from inside my tent. Started packing up but wasn’t in too big of a hurry because I knew it was a short walk to town. I decided to make myself hot oatmeal for breakfast (normally I would never break out my stove in the morning, too much of a hassle) and ended up boiling too much water and putting 3 packets of oatmeal in and let me say, my hiker hunger is just not that intense yet. I threw half of it away, luckily there was a trash can at the campground so I didn’t need to carry it out.
It was a pretty nonchalant 5 miles. I set off on my own and Lynn caught up to me, but I didn’t hear her because hikers are actually pretty quiet when they don’t have trekking poles, so she whispered my name – “colleeeeeeen” – and I whipped my head around and about died of fright.
“I’m not sure what would have been scarier,” I said, catching my breath, “if there was someone standing there or if there wasn’t.”
We hiked near each other the rest of the way. There were some ski lifts that we passed and wished would take us down the mountain. There were some pretty steep (though short) ups and downs which we complained about (hikers are whiners) but eventually we got to the highway where we were supposed to hitch.
Lynn was a bit ahead of me and went across the street to the bathroom and a woman was standing near an RV yelled out to me, “watermelon?” It was a trail angel with fresh slices of watermelon! I happily ate a piece and she told me her husband was hiking the trail and expected to arrive tonight. She’s been meeting him every few days on his way to Canada – how lovely is that?
She told us where to stand and we stuck our thumbs out but really the thing that got us a ride was Lynn seeing a car with other hikers being dropped off and waving it down to see if they could give us a ride. It was a woman who had been on her way to go hiking with her dogs so I felt a little bad, but she was super nice and gave us a ride into town.
We got to town and got an overview from the local hardware store. They have Tyvek so I’m going to buy some tomorrow because the stuff I have is too thin and cloth like – I’m carrying half the desert around with me because it’s stuck to it. We took pictures of the info for places to stay and eat and headed over to the Evergreen Cafe for breakfast (which apparently has bigger portions than the other breakfast places, which was good because I ate all of my food.)
From there I called a few trail angel “host families” but they didn’t seem to be answering, so we decided to try something more official instead.
Here’s where I’m not sure how to keep telling you the honest truth about my experience because I don’t want to start anything, especially since part of the problem with where we tried to spend the night was that my expectations (based on their website) were entirely different from the reality.
So, pardon the vagueness, even though I would love to give you all the truly epic details I made note of, I’m going to keep it top-level so that other hikers are free to have whatever experience they want to have, and maybe they’ll have a perfectly pleasant time (my issue with the place wasn’t about safety – I don’t think anything bad would have happened to us – it was just weird, not as advertised, and not what I wanted out of a Nero.)
We call one of the lodging options in the area and it sounds really lovely and relaxing. They charge a small fee and I expect that we sleep on the floor, which is fine because they have laundry and showers (the two essentials of any town stay) – but when I call, the man who answers (who I never meet) says they actually have private room options for a slightly bigger per-person fee and Lynn and I agree we’d rather do that. He tells us his “manager” will pick us up.
We’re picked up 20 minutes later than expected (but whatever, mountain time). The woman who picks us up is very nice but also extremely chatty and a little loud and I don’t know what to say but to say that her vibe was a little “off” – she wasn’t scary or intimidating or anything like that, she just seemed like… someone whose version of reality was very different from mine. Oh well, I think, maybe this is just a person who takes care of the place and mostly minds her own business once we get there.
We get there and from the outside the place looks as charming as the website, which made it seem like a pretty peaceful getaway. Once we walk inside it’s clear there was some fancy footwork done and it isn’t the business it supposes itself to be. The first two “private rooms” we are shown are not at all private, nor are they really rooms meant for guests – one is a room filled with non-bedroom equipment, an unfinished non-usable shower, unfinished flooring (plywood) and a refrigerator for other guests, who we could expect to be coming in and out of the room until we wanted to go to bed, then we could tell them to leave. Another “private room” was essentially a living room with no doors and a sectional couch (no bed.) All of these rooms were filled to the brim with stuff. There were two legitimate rooms upstairs but both were occupied by other hikers – one becoming available later in the day.
But really the most perplexing thing was the manager, who clearly lived there. She told us all kinds of stories and things about herself that seemed like they were missing some key information. She was perplexed people often wanted to sleep outside, which was not perplexing to me at all. It also seemed that she would likely be popping in to tell us more stories throughout the stay, and I found myself getting stressed out by the possibility of staying there. As we’re getting ready to pay and choose our “room” I ask if she has an option to just do laundry and shower because a friend has just texted to say they have a place for us to stay (untrue). She says yes and that’s what we do. To her credit, after that she mostly leaves us to ourselves to sort out our laundry and shower.
At breakfast I had run into Chris, the doctor who had told me what to do about my blisters in day 2, and he had told me his sister was in town and we could probably stay there, but I’d told him we’d already organized plans. I had gotten his number anyway. So I texted him the most fascinating parts about the place we were staying and said if his sister was down to let us stay, we’d be grateful. He got back to me shortly after and said yes and gave us his sister’s contact info. She’d be around after 7pm. So Lynn and I caught a ride back to town and had lunch and it took me about an hour to un-stress myself. Rawhide came by and I told her the story and her reaction wasn’t nearly what I wanted it to be.
From there we went to the store for resupply and I almost accidentally spent $10 on grapes – no wonder my resupplies have been so expensive – and outside I saw David. I told him the story and he was laughing and laughing. “I kind of want to go there just for the story!” He said. But he ended up going elsewhere.
Also, another hiker, Marvel, came by as we were sitting outside the grocery store and said there was chanting happening at the yoga studio and that we could just walk in and join, and that sounded like exactly the relaxing experience I’d been hoping for, so I ran over and joined. I wasn’t there for very long before it was over but it was still nice to do something different.
I called my best friend Sarah and told her about the experience and she laughed with me. We didn’t get to talk as long as I wanted because we had to meet up with Chris’s sister. So Lynn and I started to walk over there when one of the women from the yoga studio saw us and gave us a ride the .4 miles to her house. It was actually one of Chris’s other sisters who also lives in the area who met us, because the other sister was picking up some hikers from the airport. She was extremely nice and we chatted with her for a while before I stepped away to call Mark. As I was on the phone with Mark, Chris’s sister got back with the hikers and who was it but Karma and Nirvana!! I was so thrilled to see them. It’s Karma’s birthday but I was feeling too tired to go to the party Tommy was throwing for her (it was already 830!) so I was sad that I might miss them, but then there they were.
So anyway, that was the very long winded town stay so far. That was my first experience learning just how interesting the characters around the PCT can be.
It sounds like everyone is headed back to the trail today, me included, although I’m not sure yet how many miles I want to do. I’m excited that one of the most exciting trail angels, the Saufley’s at Hiker Heaven, is coming up in the next section. I am not so excited that I’m pretty sure the desert is about to get really real.