I woke to the crunching sound of someone walking by the the tent. I was so happy we were going to town today but so sad we had to do 15 miles to get there. I was on empty. I tried to eat some breakfast but all I had was sweet and my body was completely devoid of sodium making it near impossible to eat it. We broke camp and headed down the trail bound for Walker Pass.
Even the slightest uphill exhausted me and I had to dig deep to keep going. We passed a few other hikers, some we discovered we knew from Facebook, which is always a treat. We stopped and ate the last of our food around 9am and tried to put our game faces on. That half a tuna packet got me exactly 3 miles before I was all bonk and tears again.
We wound our way through and around and next to and on top of the same canyon for what seemed like forever. We followed a dirt road for a while with the whoop-de-dos that I love so much. There we talked with Happy Nomad and Butterfly who said they had heard a rumor there was trail magic at Walker Pass Campground. I tried to squash that thought as getting my hopes up and having it not be so would kill me. At last we crested the pass and began to drop down via switchbacks to the desert below.
We passed a pair of gentlemen in their golden years chugging up the hill at a pace that made me jealous and talked with them briefly as we passed. I stopped to pee for the first time of the day at 11am and knew I was not in a good way. When I cried there were no tears. I was starting to not really sweat anymore and I had peed about three times in the last two days. I was drinking water like it was going out of style but it just made me want to barf. I considered eating a salt packet that we had in our food supply but thought that could go either way as far as being beneficial or damaging. I decided the best thing to do was hike hard and try to get to town before I died.
It seemed like forever and even Josh had to stop just shy of the camp to rest, which is out of character for him. We had seen the tents and trailers at the camp from higher up on the ridge and hoped it was trail magic but weren't holding our breath. The trail dished us a final small but energy depleting climb before we came to a blue plastic picnic plate with "hiker trash wanted!" written on it. We followed the trail to the camp site and as we arrived a round of applause exploded from under the awning. We dropped our packs and I was over come with emotion and choked back tears to save face. "I'm so glad you're all here" I said as I was handed a necklace of Mardi Gras beads, a green button that had the photo of the young boy who handed it to me and said "Bearbait gave me a cold drink at Walker Pass" and an ice cold root beer.
Holy shit. I've never been so grateful in all my life for that root beer. I sat in a chair in the shade next to Happy Nomad and Butterfly and downed my soda. Coppertone said I looked very tired, I told him I wasn't feeling well and Butterfly offered me some Pepto Bismal. I was trying hard not to cry and look like a total weenie but I was really moved by the generosity of everyone and the sense of relief at having my needs met.
The thing I've learned on the trail so far is what it's like to actually engage the foundation of Maslow's Heirchy Of Needs. We spend so much time developing the top tiers of that pyramid that we are completely unfamiliar with it's basic physiological roots. It occurs to me that perhaps now, having really spent time in that basic primal state of necessity, someday I will need to go back and reassess my arrangement of the top of tiers to sit strait on this new foundation. The trail is breaking me, and rebuilding me. It reminds me of getting sober in AA.
We sat for a couple of hours and someone handed me a grilled cheese sandwich. I bit into it and my head nearly exploded from the amazingness. There was green onion, tomato and cheese pressed between two slices of buttered bread that rocketed me back into reality. I started to feel like a human again and I could laugh and talk with my fellow hikers. Josh and I knew we were in a bad way and needed to take a zero to rehydrate and get healthy before we headed into the Sierra. He asked if there was anyone willing to drive us to Lake Isabella or if the hitching situation was hard and someone told us Boots would drive us in. We met Boots just outside of Wrightwood and were glad to see him again. He offered to drive us, Chemo-Robby and another hiker to Isabella.
We loaded into his truck and started out on the long drive. The conversation was comical and interesting. Boots and Chemo-Robbie are equally colorful personalities and watching them interact was a treat. We took turns doing interviews, telling where we were from and why we were hiking the trail and we learned one of the other hikers in the truck was Gilad, another Facebook friend from Israel. After a fun ride into town we had Boots drop us at the Lake Isabel Inn and took a room. The other guys decided not to stay as the rooms were expensive and the place was run down. We bid them good bye and headed in to our room.
As soon as we opened the door we cringed. This room was nasty. I flipped on the air, which turned out to be a swamp cooler and it spit dirty water all over everything. Josh and I looked at each other and knew there was no way we were going to zero here. We went back to the front desk and gave back our key before heading out to come up with Plan B.
We made a beeline for subway and ate huge sandwiches AND a burrito and decided to take the bus to Kernville as someone suggested on Facebook. We waited for the bus for what felt like forever but it eventually arrived and we headed up River into the mountains. The bus driver let us off in the middle of downtown Kernville and we were so happy we came. We walked to a cute hotel called the Kernville Inn and looked for the office. While we approached a couple of bikers were sitting outside and one yelled at us. "Hey, are you guys homeless?" We laughed and told hiked were hiking the PCT and told him about the trail. We chatted with them for a while which was fun and he took a photo with us before we headed in to get a room. He gave Josh his business card and were going to start sending him post cards from the trail. :-)
The room was perfect, the town was perfect, we ate a second dinner and bought everything we could drink from the store including Pedialyte before calling it a night. Right now it's 1:15 the next day and my zero is amazing. I'll write about that now.
Until tomorrow, goodnight!