The pesky fire closure north of Ziggy’s meant that we were now a couple of days ahead of schedule. I was finding it quite curious how easy it is to become somewhat competitive when hiking the PCT. For reasons that I don’t fully understand, both myself and Chance seemed to be silently brooding about our fellow hikers getting ahead of us, or us falling behind. This is of course totally irrational but no matter much I vocalized this incongruity, it persisted deep within my psyche. Frankly it was pissing me off … I scoffed another muffin and nonchalantly spooned down more Strawberry Cheescake ice-cream in effort to quell my preposterous ego. Zeros are such a double-edged sword!
In many ways, hiking the PCT is like a full time job. You get up super early every morning, do some chores and then start walking. You walk all day, taking a couple of breaks for lunch and snacks. You finish “work” around 5 or 6pm, cook dinner, relax a little and then it’s off to bed, only to get up and do it all over again the next day. Of course, one would expect such a routine to be physically very draining but what I had failed to appreciate is how psychologically taxing this would be. A zero is basically a day off work … No getting up early, no hiking, just a lot of eating, sitting around and perhaps a little light laundry. Now, if you’re really lucky your zero will be a bit like mine … two nights in a cabin with hot tub, open fire, cable TV, WiFi, laundry, a refrigerator full of food and awesome people to keep you company!Chance, it transpired, has a little crew of cousins living just south of LA and they had driven out to Big Bear for the weekend to deliver a very special variety of trail magic. When the three SoCal surfer chicks rocked up in two separate vehicles I thought it a little odd, but when they began to unload the supplies I started to understand. They had even brought a foot spa with then … perhaps a U-Haul would have been more appropriate! By a delightful coincidence The Colorado Hiker Flash had also just rolled into town (remember these guys saved us from freezing our butts off in Idyllwild when the snow storm hit) … We were definitely going to need help to get through all of this food, so we invited them to join us for dinner.What followed was one of the most hilarious evenings of my life. The boisterous conversation pin-balled from transgender midgets to exploding whales,female stand-up peeing devices and everything in between. By hiker midnight every one was full of tacos, pie and ice-cream … I wasn’t sure if my belly ached from too much laughter or too much food. Either way it felt great!The following day we took care of cleaning our gear, clothes and selves. With these basic chores completed there was little left to do apart from graze, soak in the hot tub and nap. From time to time my mind wandered to the trail and a pang of guilt would arise when Halfmile seemingly berated me for being 3.63 miles off the trail. I atoned with more chips and dip!Later that evening we made a second and more purposeful assault on the food bank. Somehow I managed to squeeze down two gargantuan helpings of taco salad. After a digestive pause I found space for more pie, cookies and ice-cream but that was it … I couldn’t manage another thing, not even a wafer thin mint! For the grand finale we took another dip in the hot tub, relaxed beside the fire and then before I knew it Hiker Midnight had arrived and the zero was over.
As I luxuriated in my proper bed for the last night in a while, I pondered the trail and this incredible journey. An adventure such as this is really not about the miles, its not about the schedule or the destination … it’s absolutely about the amazing and unique experiences that I get to enjoy along the way. The double zero in Big Bear and the awesome crew of SoCal Surfer Chicks will definitely remain a highlight!