PCT miles: 745.3 to 750.8 + 2ish miles up Trail Pass
This morning our trail angel makes us breakfast – eggs and bagels and fresh fruit and juices. We eat outside on her patio (we did this last night when she ordered us all Chinese food) and her desert tortoise wanders around entertaining us.
It takes us a while to leave the house and I can tell the group is getting antsy. On the way out of town we split up – I go to a cafe for a sandwich, some others grab Subway, some others are just going to try for a hitch.
In the cafe while I’m waiting for takeout two older men start asking me about backpacking. Their names are Scott and Mark and they ask where I’m trying to get to so I tell them I’m headed to the Horseshoe Meadow Trailhead.
“We can take you there,” they say.
“That would be awesome.”
We wait for our food and on the drive they take a couple detours to talk about cattle ranching in the area because that’s what they do. They ask me about hiking and it takes me a while to realize they don’t know I’m thruhiking – when I explain that I’ve been walking for two months (!!) from the border of Mexico and California, Mark says: “So you’re kind of a badass.”
And Scott says: “Like Reese Witherspoon!”
They have a back and forth because Mark hasn’t seen the movie but for the rest of the drive they call me Reese, and when they drop me off they take a picture with me and give me their cards and then take some other thruhikers – “more Reese Witherspoons!” – back to town.
These are the kinds of interactions I really like out here. I am grateful for any kind of kindness or magic, but because there are so many hikers many trail angels are too overwhelmed to see us as individuals. Bumping into people who aren’t familiar with what I’m doing, who aren’t meeting their 500th thruhiker but their first, kind of breathes some life back into interactions off trail.
I kill some time at the trail head hoping the group will show up, so I get hiking. I’m not sure if they’re ahead of or behind me and I ask several southbound hikers if they’ve seen anyone, but no one has. Eventually I get to our planned meeting spot and wait and they catch me.
“Show me the bottom of your shoes!” Sole Sister says. I do. “I knew those were your prints!”
We do some hemming and hawing about whether we should hike further, but ultimately decide to stay at the lake because we heard the next section wasn’t too bad for snow. Soon others – Whoopie, Nature Monster, Campo – join. We all eat dinner by the lake. Campo gets his trail name – Rainfly – because he accidentally sent his tent rather than his damaged rainfly to Big Agnes.
We talk about how heavy our packs are. Mine weighed in at 30 lbs – and it was the lightest of the group. It has to be food – everyone else’s pack is at least 37. Did I carry enough? I’m wondering. Am I going to starve?
It’s our first cold night in a while and it’s delightful. We’re at 11,200 feet. I don’t feel any issues with the altitude and I feel hopeful that it won’t be a problem for me.