Started: 07:30 @ MM 630.8 – Bird Spring Pass (Elevation 5,361ft)
Finished: 16:00 @ MM 652.0 – Walker Pass (Elevation 5,121ft)
Food: Oatmeal, Granola Bar, Cliff Bar, Tortilla w/cheese & salami, Tortilla w/PBJ, Dates, Trail Mix, Carrot Cake, Rice Pudding, Thai Chicken Curry
Health & Hygiene: 0 Blisters, Days since last shower 4, Days since laundry 5
It certainly wasn’t my best nights sleep on trail. The wind persisted all night and even my industrial strength ear plugs weren’t able to muffle the constant flapping. One very curious thing did happen however … I woke up in the middle of the night and I was absolutely boiling hot, so hot in fact that I had to peel off layers. This is a first on the trail, but sadly I don’t think it was in any way correlated to a lasting shift in the climatic conditions. Two hours later I was freezing cold and had to put everything back on again. I suspect that it was simply some kind of pre-menopausal flush … Oh, what joy! Being “middle-aged” really does provide no end of excitement. I guess the psychotic mood swings and vaginal dryness won’t be far away now.
When I crawled from my tent the White Rabbit was up to his usual routine … “Eggsy, Shorts and Easy have already left” he crowed and gesticulated towards the abandoned windy spots … It was 6am! My mind screamed “I don’t give a fuck!” Thankfully, my mouth miraculously delivered a more polite rebuff … “I am not in the habit of comparing myself with the behavior and actions of others” … I had no idea where that profound and somewhat pompous remark sprang from but it certainly seemed to have the desired effect. Chance left without breakfast and I enjoyed my hot oatmeal and coffee in peace. Perhaps the psychotic moods swings were closer than I’d imagined?
The morning started with a long and very windy ascent. After about 90 minutes I was over the top and then it was pretty much all downhill for the rest of the day. Chance and I had discussed hitching a ride into town to shower and do laundry. I was keen but now he was at least an hour in front of me and no doubt being propelled by his ravenous hunger. I reached the big water cache at Yellow Jacket Spring and stopped for a quick second breakfast. Ordinarily I would have lingered longer but I wanted to try to catch up with Chance so that we could head into town together.
As I hurried along the trail I became aware that I was being sucked back into the “race”. I wanted to stop, take another rest and eat a little more, but this need to “keep up” was pushing me on. My mind was painting pictures of a pissed off Chance waiting at the bottom of the hill for me. I quickly concluded that this was the price I had to pay if you wanted to walk with someone that was a good 12″ taller than me. Perhaps it was too high of a price, there is certainly a far greater sense of freedom when you aren’t intertwined with someone else’s schedule. Maybe I just needed to find someone with a schedule (or at the very least, a leg length) more compatible with my own.
I never did take that second break, instead I scurried on down the hill, as fast as I could on tired legs and feet. As I lost elevation the temperature crept higher and I was soon back in prime Rattlesnake territory. I had my headphones in which left me without one of my strongest defenses … Not being able to hear them rattle meant that I had to really pay attention to where (and on what) I was putting my feet. On more than one occasions I was startled by the ubiquitous Sticksnake! Thankfully it’s totally harmless.
I reached Walker Pass just after 4pm. I’d covered 21.2 miles in under 8 hours! Eggsy, Bacon, Shorts, Penny and Deluxe were all there, tucking into a big box of random trail magic. I ate a couple of bananas and hang out for a moment. Chance, it transpired, had already caught a ride into town. I was annoyed at myself for rushing. I decided to give the hitching malarkey another whirl. A few days previously I’d over heard another hiker referring to his walking poles as his “hitching sticks” … I curious to test this new theory. I guess the “hitching sticks” are the only things distinguishing me as a hiker rather a hobo. Previously my poles had always been packed away, perhaps this was why I want having so much trouble. The first dozen or so cars yielded nothing. I was becoming despondent when I had a flash of inspiration … take of the sunglasses, make eye contact. I did exactly that and to my absolute amazement the next car stopped!
The very nice man took me the entire 40 miles into Lake Isabella and we discussed the Trump for much of the journey. At some point during the ride I picked up phone service and a text message from Chance. He’d gotten a hitch in the opposite direction to Ridgecrest … “Hmmmm” I thought to myself. The very nice man dropped me at the Isabella Motel which he assured me was the best option in town, despite the fact that it looked as though it belonged to the same chain as Bates! When I checked, there right above my name was Butterfly and his crew … It’s amazing how the trail just seems to work things out for the best all by itself! By hiker midnight my laundry was done, my resupply taken care of, my body scrubbed clean and I was lying in bed, eating carrot cake and watching Pretty Woman on the tiny TV … I was as happy as a pig in shit!