A Thief at Camp – Day 79: Nehalem Bay State Park to Barview Jetty County Park

Oregon Coast Trail

Date: July 9

I wake up and use Dexter’s shampoo in the shower and it is glorious. We get hiking, a beach walk, and I call my friend Sarah and catch up with her a little as I walk.
Then we get to Jetty Fishery, where for $10 a guy named Josh takes us in a tiny motorized boat across the bay. Josh is funny and makes a lot of quick, dry jokes. 

When we get across Katie spots free crab and decides she has to have some, so we put our bags down and she and Energizer Bunny order. I’ve never had crab so I don’t order any – I’m not sure I’ll like it. But Energizer Bunny cracks hers and gives me half and it is unbelievably delicious, though not very filling. 

As we are getting ready to leave, three other hikers – Donor, Quiet and Trooper – show up. Energizer Bunny is thrilled because she’d hiked with Trooper on the PCT. Quiet is carrying a kite he highbrow in Seaside that he attaches to his pack and flies as he Beach walks. We are definitely not on the PCG anymore.

They’re not doing much planning so we mention where we’re camping and the say they’ll see us there. 

We walk some abandoned railroad tracks and then get back to the beach. Later in the day we get to Rockaway. Katie dries her feet on the beach and Energizer Bunny and I go to town and to a cafe. I order food and charge my battery. I have a coconut lemonade that is totally delicious. I’m feeling super sleepy so I put my sunglasses on and take a nap right there on the chair. 
After that we get back to the beach. I call and talk to Mark as I walk. When I finally get to camp we find out it is not $6 like we expected but $20. We have to agree to only set up one tent or it’s closer to $40. 
Quiet, Donor and Trooper join us and chat. It sounds like we’ll be doing similar hiking for at least a couple days.
Energizer Bunny plugs her charger into the bathroom and goes and takes a shower, and by the time she comes back someone has taken her plug, cord and power bank. She’s had several problems with people stealing things of hers since she’s started hiking. Sometimes people just do unfriendly things. I tell her she can charge with my plug for the next day until we get to town and she can replace what she’s lost. Still, with a little hope we ask the register if they’ve had anything turned in, but no, so I leave a note in the bathroom asking for it’s safe return. But no luck. 
As the sun goes down we all set up our tents and no one bothers us about there being two extra. The boys camp in a secluded spot and no one notices. Infrequent and expensive legal camping is a reality of this trail. Energizer Bunny says she’s going to complain about it to whoever is in charge of the trail. But in a way, it adds a nice challenge and a bit of adventure. 

The Most Expensive Cab Ride – Day 78: Short Sand Beach to Nehalem Bay State Park

Oregon Coast Trail

Date: July 8

I wake up around 2am and look out and the moon is setting on the horizon, so bright orange it could be the sun. This trail is full of so many surprises. 
Nobody bothers us about camping and we sleep great. It’s a little confusing where to go when we get hiking but we figure it out – the trail signs are so infrequent that sometimes I even forget to look for them to help. 
Today we climb Neah-Kah-Nie mountain, which isn’t that long or hard, but gives us a gorgeous view of the ocean. I see Dexter scramble up a steep rocky area and follow her. About 3/4 of the way up I see a headstone which makes me a little nervous but even though it’s steep, the rocks are stable. Once we’re at the top we see an easier route down. But the view from the top is worth it. 

On the way down I see a lot of dayhikers and some stop to talk about where we’re headed, which is fun. From there we hike into Manzanita. We go to the grocery store, where the staff is incredibly friendly to us, to lunch at Left Coast Siesta where I eat a massive burrito with enthusiasm, and then to ice cream. Before we get to ice cream we see two other hikers and say hello – they’d jumped from the PCT, too, but had decided not to do the OCT and had just been hanging around town before heading north for a southbound hike. 
After ice cream, it’s laundry time. It’s two miles to the laundromat and we don’t want to walk it so we call a cab. The cab takes 40 minutes to head over and the two minute ride costs $25 and, well, that settles it: no more cabs for us (unless absolutely necessary.)
While our clothes wash I start planning the upcoming sections of the trail in my notebook, which has helped a lot. There aren’t any bathrooms so we change our clothes in the middle of the building since no one else is in there (we ignore the cameras.)
I make a sign saying “Oregon Coast Hikers to Manzanita” hoping we’ll get a hitch, but no one bites, so we end up walking all the way back. I get something to bring for dinner at the grocery store and get walking. 
When we’re almost to camp, I realize: the shampoo I’d bought at the store never made it into my bag. I’d been so stoked for clean hair and now I might not get it. Bummer. But at camp, Dexter says she has some I can use. Shower saved!
An older man with long grey hair says hello when we get to the hiker camp. Some bikers are there and so are the two hikers we met earlier. We all sit around and chat, the older guy plays guitar. He turns out to be quite the character, breaking into monologues about acid and starships and near death experiences. He says he’s traveling from state park to state park. It’s 1030 by the time I go to bed.

Waves Are Magic – Day 77: Arcadia Beach to Short Sand Beach

Oregon Coast Trail

Date: July 7

Miles: 12ish

Sleeping on the beach is amazing and our tents aren’t wet and I am happy happy happy. We’ve woken up early-ish to catch the low tide and get walking. On the beach I find a whole sand dollar – I’ve seen endless amounts of broken ones but never a whole one outside of a store. I put it in my pocket. 

Hug Point is totally passable. We climb up onto the old road and I feel a little bad – I try to step without touching the anemones and other living creatures attached to the flat surface. 

A man we camped with at Tillamook Head rides by on his bicycle and then chats with me and tells me about some of the trail coming up – namely that the suspension bridge we have to cross in the next mile looks like it’s on someone’s property. 

After the bridge we enter the longest stretch of forest in the coast, according to the guidebook. It’s beautiful. And also… a little overgrown. It’s fun to be on a trail, to dodge roots and tackle mud and push through bushes. 

And then we come across a small side trail that leads to a view and I sit down and it’s one of the prettiest things I’ve ever seen. The ocean crashes against rocks and has created coved and it looks like it’s out of a movie. 

After a while we keep moving. We’re not allowed to camp at Oswald West State Park but we don’t have another 9 miles in us to get to the next camp, so we look for stealth options, but there aren’t any really. We get to the picnic area and eat dinner and decide we’re just going to wait out the surfers and families and then set up our tents here. In the meantime, the crows are loud and obnoxious – they sound like the kind of noise a human would make to be irritating, and their calls are so constant that I start laughing and laughing and laughing, and then Dexter and I start making the noises with them. Ba-caw! Creeeaw! 

Around 8:30 I’m tired of waiting and set up my tent and go to sleep. Dexter cowboy camps hidden behind a tree. Energizer Bunny waits a little longer and then cowboy camps too. 

The Best Sunset of Summer – Day 76: Tillamook Head to Arcadia Beach

Oregon Coast Trail

Date: July 6
Miles: 10ish
I take a while to fall asleep because I keep hearing scratching and running sounds, sometimes seemingly right by my head. But every time I look, I don’t see anything, so I put it out of my head and fall asleep.
In the morning we wake in the dark and open the door for some light. I crawl down from the top bunk and see it – mouse running across the log a few feet from my head. Energizer Bunny’s food bag has been chewed into. But otherwise, no damage. 
It’s a nice day and there is no condensation on any of our stuff which is awesome. The walk is super pleasant. We get to the trail for Ecola Point but the OCT is closed in this area, so instead we walk a forest road and dodge cars and eventually the ranger points us to a side trail with beautiful views.

In Cannon Beach, we have lunch. We go to a fish and chips shop, to the grocery store, to a coffee shop. I get a slice of pizza. We hang out there since there’s nowhere to go as we’re waiting for low tide to get around Hug Point.

People have been really nice and ask us about where we’ve come from and where we’re headed all the time 

But as I’m drinking tea and charging my electronics, I realize we’ve misread the tide – low tide is an hour earlier than we thought. We move quick and get to the beach, where we see some volunteers near one of the large rocks and tide pools. They say even the low tide tonight is probably not low enough to get where we need to go. Crap. We can’t legally camp anywhere nearby, but Dexter says we should try stealth camping so we push on.

Dexter found a starfish!

We end up at Arcadia Beach with one of the prettiest views I’ve ever seen, and an incredible sunset.

 I sit on a log and sing into the ocean breeze while Energizer Bunny and Dexter explore the beach. I have missed singing and I am thankful the sound of the waves still makes it a private thing. I call my family. At dark we set up our tents and fall asleep to the sound of the sea. 

More Vagabond than Hiker -Day 75: Bud’s RV Park to Tillamook Head Hiker Camp

Oregon Coast Trail

Miles: more than 8, less than 15, genuinely don’t know how to keep track

Date: July 5th

In the morning I wake up around 5:30 to a soaking wet tent, so I decide to deal with it maturely by going back to sleep. It’s foggy and there’s no point in getting up early. So I don’t.
Around 630 I start to get my stuff together. I buy breakfast and some snacks from the camp store. Around 830 Energizer Bunny and I get walking, back to the road. It’s only about an hour before we’re in the town of Seaside. We head to the boardwalk and walk and people watch, and then we hit a road that clearly leads to delicious restaurants and cute shops and I tell Energizer Bunny: “Um, I’m going to go explore.”

She’s down too. She doesn’t want to plan and seems happy to follow whatever itinerary I set. I spot a restaurant I want to eat at but it’s too early early for lunch so I keep walking. Then I see a bookstore. I can’t help myself and I go inside. I tell the woman the kind of book I’m in the mood for and she pulls a few off the shelf and I buy one. I sit for a few minutes and then I go back in and find some journals, too. They’re beautiful, and I’ve decided I’m not going to care much about miles in this trail so I may as well read and write. And one of the journals I’m going to use for planning this trip, which is more complicated than the PCT because there isn’t one good resource to follow mindlessly. 
We wait around until 11 and then go to lunch. I try an Oyster Po Boy and realize I don’t like oysters. Oh well. I’m happy to be eating seafood that isn’t tuna packets regardless.
From there we hike along the boardwalk and then a road and we arrive at the Trailhead for Tillamook Head, which my friend who has just finished the trail said was awesome. It’s lush and green and I’m stoked. I’m also stoked because I’ve decided I’m only going to do about 10 miles a day out here, except for when necessary otherwise, which means I only have to get 4 miles to the hiker camp. I’ve decided that on this trail I will feel more like a vagabond than a hiker, and that’s okay. There will be a lot of town meals, hot tea, people watching, and hopefully more time to reflect on what exactly I am doing out here. 

I walk through what is basically a wonderland and I text my husband saying we need to move to the northwest and eventually I reach camp. There I meet another former PCT hiker, trailname Dexter, and we chat with each other.
The interesting thing about this camp is there are wooden huts with wooden bunk beds set up for use. Katie’s already set up in one. I’m a little skeptical because I’m imagining spiders and rodents. My tent is still soaking wet so I set it up to dry it and hang the rain fly. Energizer Bunny is going to sleep in the hut, too, and finally I just blow up my air mattress and set it on the top bunk.

More people arrive and a Swiss family gets a fire going. Dexter takes us to look at Terrible Tilly, a lighthouse off the coast, as well as some barracks and the slugs who live on them. 

The Swiss family cook chicken legs and offer us some. Their 14 year old son knows all the states and whether they’re republican or democratic, which I find impressive. Then they offer us Swiss chocolate.
It doesn’t get dark til 9:30, which is when we go bed. I’ve brought my rolled up tent inside and hope for no condensation. I read my book with the red light of my headlamp, and then I try to fall asleep. 

Independence on the OCT – Day 74: Northern Terminus to Bud’s RV Park and Campground 

Oregon Coast Trail

Date: July 4th
Miles: 13? 14? 15? Unclear how to keep track out here
We were up late, 11 or so, and I’m reluctant to get out of bed. I rouse myself around 6:10 and my pack is packed and I’m dressed so there’s really not much to do. I go downstairs and have a cup of tea and chat with Scott and his family. Energizer Bunny was already up.

When I finish my tea Scott drives us to the Terminus, stopping at a sporting goods store so I can get fuel and Fred Meyer so Energizer Bunny can get a Swiss Army knife, which the airport has made her leave behind. 
We get to the Terminus around 9am and get hiking. I’m excited to be on the beach, which is beautiful, and I find myself picking up sea shells and sand dollars. The beach is littered with crab shells, which is totally new to me. I’m even singing too myself, the sea breeze making it a private sound. I’ve missed singing a lot out here.

As we’re walking I’m stopped by a woman who asks where we’re going and I tell her. She tells me about some of the Caminos she’s hiked. I walk a little further and a former PCT hiker who was headed north spots us and gives us some info about the upcoming trail.
“It’s a lot of stopping for coffee,” he says. “Very different from the PCT.”
I’m noticing that Energizer Bunny is quiet around new people but chatty with me. She’s also started looking to me to translate when people don’t understand her Hong Kong accent.

Peter Iredale Shipwreck

We walk on the beach for 6 miles or so and much to my surprise, I am downright sick of it. It’s the same view the whole way – ocean to my right, sand in front, grassy hill to my left. And there are cars zooming past is because this part of the beach is also considered a highway. And I’m a little nervous about water – the guidebook and resources talked about how plentiful water was, so I’ve only brought a liter, but I’m not seeing any notes about exactly where to g water in this stretch and it’s making me nervous.
We get to a beach entrance/exit point and I ask if she wants to keep walking the beach or wants to get on the road.
“Road,” she says. 
We find a store and I buy a bottle of water and we make lunch at the park next door. It’s a mountain house, and it’s not good. I can already tell camp food is going to feel miserable about here because real food is so nearby. 
Then we get walking. I’m not sure the road was better than the beach and I’m missing the general choicelessness of the PCT. There, there is usually only one way to get to where you’re going. Here there are a million, and constant temptation for easier modes of travel. 
Luckily the road, highway 101, has a generous shoulder. What we don’t know is where we’re going to sleep. We walk and walk and walk. I’m worried about water again. 

I pull out my phone and google restaurants nearby and see a coffee kiosk a half mile ahead, so we head there. Energizer Bunny orders a Mountain Dew and the man fills our water bottles. I ask if he knows if any campgrounds around.
“Bud’s is three miles ahead,” he says. 
It’s Fourth of July and I’m nervous we’ll be shit out of luck, but I call anyway. They have one tentsite left and I book it. I also notice on their google page that there’s a Chinese restaurant next door. I spend the next three miles fantasizing about food, and eventually we get there.
“Food first?” I ask Energizer Bunny, and she agrees.

I hiked in my new Tevas all day and got a sunburn. Pale people problems. 

After food we check in and set up our tents. I take a shower because it’s there and make a note to actually buy some shampoo and conditioner to carry, since I’ll have regular access to hiker camps. 
I’m in bed as the fireworks go off. It feels good to be back in my tent. But I’m a little nervous I’ve broken something I need for walking, some kind of momentum or spirit or willingness to suffer. I’m afraid I left it on the PCT. I’m afraid I won’t find it again. 

Gone to Hiker Heaven – Day 36: Acton KOA to Hiker Heaven

pacific crest trail

 PCT miles: 444 to 454Miles: 10

A train goes behind the KOA and went through several times last night which wasn’t super pleasant. Around 5:15 I woke up and just laid in my tent. Lynn wanted to go to breakfast and managed to find us a free ride with a guy who was headed to work. I don’t know if people drive crazy out here or if I’m just not used to moving faster than 2-3 miles per hour anymore, but cars feel pretty insane to me right now. 

We got to breakfast and who’s there but Karma, Nirvana, Rawhide, Twerk and a bunch of other hikers I hadn’t seen in a while. They were all staying at Hiker Heaven. 

Nirvana, Karma, Soulshine
We ate breakfast and I resupplied (it may have been smarter to resupply later so I didn’t have to carry the food 10 miles for nothing, but I didn’t want to have to think about it later.) We got a ride almost instantly to the KOA from a Hiker Heaven volunteer in his doorless Jeep. 

After that I took a brief nap with my rainfly draped over the top half my tent (for ventilation) and then Scissors arrived. She sat in the shade with us and shared that she was really considering leaving the trail. She wasn’t having the experience she’d hoped for. 

The conversation made me think about what kind of experience I’m having. I wouldn’t describe it as “fun.” I’m not finding that I’m creating friendships that are especially meaningful to me. I’m not having the deep conversations I’d expected and heard about. In a lot of ways the trail has been disappointing – the things I’d read about aren’t what I’m experiencing. 

But still, this is what I’m doing and it feels like the right thing. Hard but simple. 

We dispersed and I started trying to pack my things. It was 1 pm, hot, in the sun. It took forever and I grew irritated and ended up shoving what I could in my pack and then taking everything to the laundry room – which is to say, shade – and exploding my pack and repacking it. Lynn sat watching Once Upon a Time so I watched over her shoulder while I packed. I grabbed a quick shower since my hair felt greasy from the shampoo I’d used the day before.

I finally got my things together, lost my bandana that I wear for sun protection, bought another one, nearly left my hiking pole, and promptly lost my new bandana. 

At 345 I headed out. I saw Mixed Bag – he caught up – and kept walking. I managed to keep a good pace the whole way and did 10 miles in 3 hours. 

I called Mark for the last hour and then my brother. The hikers in town let me know there was a shuttle running to Hiker Heaven every hour so I put in a quick order for takeout Mexican food before jumping in a truck.

Hiker Heaven is actually someone’s house – the Saufleys – and they have set up an amazing operation that is catered to the needs of hikers. I got a tour when I walked in – a laundry system where I could drop off my clothes and have them later returned with my name on them, an outdoor and indoor shower, an area to charge all of my electronics, plenty of chairs and places to hang out. It’s magical. I almost cried walking in.

I set up my tent and ate my food and chatted with people. A large group of hikers were drinking and the vibe got weird so I went to bed. 

I’m noticing a kind of unfortunate dynamic out here where people are sitting in groups and talking and sort of being openly or casually rude to people and trying to bond with other hikers by being rude to someone in the group. It’s pretty uncomfortable to be around. 

I think I’ve spent a lot of my life wanting to really connect with people and that was part of what I thought I’d get out here. Whether it’s the bubble or something else, I haven’t really gotten much of that. Maybe it’s coming. Maybe it’s not. 

Tomorrow the plan is to hike out in the evening because that’s when Rawhide is trying to leave. I’ve ordered the bulk of my gear to the Sierra but I still need to figure out food. 

The Best Magic – Day 33: Islip Trailhead to Sulphur Springs Campground

pacific crest trail

 PCT miles: 386.1 to 406.7 (+1 mile of detour)Miles: 21.6

I don’t sleep well, waking every hour or so. I think it’s because it’s warm out, maybe 65 or 70 degrees. I finally start getting my things together around 515 and am on the trail by 6. Maybe I’ll do 20 today, I think. It’s a climb first thing and I am moving slowly and unenergetically. I see Yoav (sp?) and Dean and they offer me coffee but I pass and keep walking. Some 20 minutes later I hear them behind me so I step to the side and take a picture of the canyon I’m in front of. 

“Nothing can capture it, but it’s good to try,” Dean says.

“It’s all in your head,” Yoav says. 

Even now that I’m going downhill I’m still slow. I get to the Eagles Roost picnic area and lay on a picnic table for a little while. Fish Fry catches up and we start to hike the two mile road walk that skirts around the section of closed trail for an endangered frog species. Road walks are hard on the feet and I consider sticking my thumb out for a very short hitch, but there aren’t many cars and it’s not that far so I just keep walking. We see an abandoned ski lift and meet some dayhikers who offer us water. 

After the road walk, we enter a campground that will take us to a trail that will take us back to the PCT. Fish Fry stops for some water and I continue on until I see a bathroom and a pit toilet and take another break. I stay about 20 minutes but don’t see Fish Fry so get started on the trail back to the PCT. It’s a little foresty canyon and I can hear the sound of water and the trees smell so strong and amazing, like the best candles you’ve ever smelled. I get lost in my head, thinking I am actually a day hiker taking a stroll and later I’ll be going back to a camper van and my husband and be in a bed tonight. 

Which is also to say, the trail is lonely today. I haven’t seen anyone but Fish Fry and I don’t have cell service so I have no idea where anyone in the bubble I’ve been a part of has gone. On top of that, where are all the other hikers? Usually many have passed me by now and I know where groups are going so I can know where to sleep if I don’t want to camp alone. 

I reach water and eat lunch and I’d like to take another extended break there, particularly a nap, but the mosquitos are bad near the creek so I begrudgingly pack my bag up and keep walking to the Cooper Canyon Camp. There I spot a perfect picnic table in the shade and lay myself down and fall asleep for 30 minutes. When I wake back up the shade is nearly gone and Fish Fry has caught back up. We chat for a bit and I eat a little more and I tell him I’m only going to go another 5.6 miles, falling nearly 6 miles short of a 20, and then camp, and to tell Mousetrap as much if Mousetrap catches up. 

I pass some dayhikers who ask me about the PCT and my pack and the age ranges of hikers and then don’t see anyone else. My feet are sore and I’m looking forward to camping. When I get to Camp Glenwood, where I’m intending to stop, it’s empty. I’m about to set my pack down when I hear voices and boom, there’s a group of hikers I recognize – Blues Clues and Scissors and Lynn and more. Blues Clues had camped behind my so I’m confused how he got there. “We just roadwalked the whole way,” he says. The PCT had crossed over highway 2 several times – I wonder if this is why we didn’t see anyone. Scissors said she saw Mousetrap so he must have done something similar. 

I ask how far Lynn and Scissors going and it’s another 6 miles, where I’d planned to go but had been too afraid of the possibility of night hiking by myself, or even hiking at dusk. “Can I hike with you?” I ask, and they say of course. 

I try to keep pace with Lynn but she’s too fast until I catch up to her at a highway crossing, where she’s stopped to talk to someone in there car. She’s holding a soda. Trail magic! It’s a hiker from last year, Shepherd, and he’s got soda and watermelon. I sit on the ground (my feet are pounding and I was just going to try to push to camp so they’re happy for the break) and drink a soda and we chat with Shepherd who answers our questions about the upcoming desert section. It’s the best magic I’ve had so far.

Powered by soda, I manage to keep pace with Lynn even though it’s her normal pace and it’s my hustle pace. I have armpit chafe that is stinging bad so I put my hand on my hip like I’m a teapot and hike like that. Unfortunately I don’t have any fun poses for the ass chafe that starts to make its presence known. We pass a bunch of poodle dog bush and Lynn stops every once in a while to see how far we are from camp. At one of these stops I must have briefly had cell service because I get a text from Mark saying I should turn on my InReach because my dad is worried.

We get to the mile marker for camp and there’s a junction for horses and Lynn keeps going on the hiker PCT and so I follow her before we realize we have to take the horse route to camp. We turn around and see Scissors across the canyon and yell out to her so she doesn’t make the same mistake.

At camp my feet are impossibly tender and I try to stretch but I am very tired. I turn on my InReach and send a message to Mark and to my dad. I get my tent set up and cook by leaving a small space unzipped on my door so the bugs can’t get in. My food is almost done when I knock my pot over. I rescue it and only some of the alfredo goodness has spilled out but it’s still sad. Scissors and Lynn try to make me feel better – do you want some m&ms? Lynn offers – but really I just want to finish my food and go to sleep, so I do. 

Back to Trail, Sort Of – Day 31: Wrightwood to Grassy Hollow Visitor Center

pacific crest trail

I woke up this morning thinking I was sleeping in my tent on a cliff – only to realize I was just off the floor, on a bed. I laid in bed a while before getting my things together. As I did that, I realized I’d lost my credit card at some point the day before. Crap. I figured I would try to retrace my steps and hope I would find it. I said goodbye to Lynn and figured I’d see her for breakfast a little later.

Good news – my first stop was Jensen’s, the grocery store, and they had my card. So incredibly lucky. People can be really amazing. 
I bought an extra dinner and picked up some new Tyvek from the hardware store (I’d somehow gotten some really thin, cloth-like Tyvek that kept getting tons of cheatgrass and other bits and pieces stuck to it and was tired of carrying half the desert around with me.) As I was doing errands, Karma invited me to breakfast at the Airbnb that Twerk had rented so I headed over there. They made a massive feast and it was a house full of people and it was chaotic and pretty lovely. 

After we’d finished cleaning after breakfast Rawhide and I got our packs together and started heading to town. I saw Caddy, Hobo, Mike and Cate sitting outside the bakery and joined them and caught up. It was getting clearer that Rawhide and I weren’t quite ready to leave town. I’d been craving a burrito for days so I suggested we go get some Mexican food for lunch and we did. Afterward I was really full and really sleepy so I took my pack across the street and took a nap in a little park that was swarming with lady bugs.
After my nap Rawhide was ready to hitch out. We hadn’t really decided how far we wanted to go – there was a place to camp one mile in, two miles in, or seven miles in and halfway up the climb to Baden-Powell.  
We got a ride from a local who gives a lot of people rides. We hadn’t even stuck our thumbs out yet and he was telling us to throw our bags in the back. It’s interesting to be a woman out here because I feel like my spidey senses are always on trying to assess whether the person I’m accepting help from is safe. I’ve gotten lucky that a lot of the help I’ve received has been from other women, or a sheriff, or in large groups. I didn’t feel unsafe with this driver but there were a few comments made that were a little questionable but probably harmless. It was interesting to see the ways that Rawhide and I tried to take them in stride.
We got to the trail and walked for about 15 minutes and were at the first potential campsite, where we found Mountain and Tallboy sitting. They’d decided to camp for the night and after some hemming and hawing we decided to join them. 

Soon more of our friends – Tarantino, Mousetrap, Rachel, etc – joined us. Twerk and Karma and Nirvana continued on. 
We sat around and chatted and tried not to eat our entire food bags and watched the sunset. Tomorrow it’s back to the trail for real – I’m hopeful I won’t have the leaving-town blues since we’re already out here. I’m excited to get up bright and early and summit Baden-Powell and enjoy the last of the cool high altitude air while I can – the real desert awaits us below. 
Today is my one month trail anniversary. It’s both hard to believe and not at all. I am getting used to walking for hours and hours. I am getting used to sleeping on the ground. Carrying the things that will keep me alive. Forgetting about things like jobs and bills and what it was that I used to spend all my time doing, spend all my time thinking about. 
It is still difficult. I can only imagine the hardest parts are still to come, when the mental challenge of the trail starts to overtake the physical challenges. But there’s nothing I can really do about that now. All I can do is walk. 

Town Got Weird – Day 30: Guffy Campground to Wrightwood

pacific crest trail

Miles: 5

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.