What a weird day already.
And it’s only 11am.
First, there was ice on both my sleeping bag and bivy. So I unzipped the bivy and figured I’d lay there until the sun melted and dried both while I was comfortable in my sleeping bag.
Only because of the mountains it wouldn’t be for a couple of hours. And despite it being 27 miles away I wanted to hit Cajon Pass by tomorrow morning. So I shook the ice off and carried both the sleeping bag and bivy unrolled in my hands, up the mountain, with what felt like an empty pack. As soon as I’d climbed high enough to be in the sun I laid everything out to dry.
According to HalfMiles app and maps, I’d hit a piped spring in a couple of miles, which was good because I’d slept dry last night. (AKA no water.) And a half-mile after that I’d hit an unpaved road which connected with 138, which paralleled the PCT before rejoining it. So instead of doing the climb and the winding in and out of the trail while looking down on a road that was a straight shot and getting pissed off, I figured I’d walk the road.
Only there was no piped spring, and if there was (I stopped at where I thought it would be) then it was dry. I had walked to the unpaved road that would take me to 138. I started to backtrack the quarter-mile to get water but stopped and said, “fuck it, something will come up,” and walked down the unpaved road.
My faith was rewarded with a cold stream from which I filtered water. I drank a liter and saved a liter. I had a cell signal and posted an Instagram picture and tried to recharge my phone with the last of the backup battery. I didn’t know if I’d have enough charge to last until Cajon Pass so I had to make sure and not get lost.
The whole time a Sheriff’s helicopter had been doing circles and working its way closer to me. Automatically I sat under branches to break up my outline. Then I started to think that they were either looking for a lost hiker or an escaped convict. I didn’t want them thinking that I was either.
So I got out in plain sight and did a one-handed wave when they circled by. (One hand means fine, two hands means help.) Only they didn’t see me. So whatever, I’d walk down to the road as planned. This time they saw me and came in close for a good view. I stopped and waved and waited as they checked me out. Slowly they circled away.
100 yards down the road not one, not two, but six sheriff and police cars were just off the side of the road. And they saw me coming. I took off my aviator glasses so they could see my eyes, that would put them at ease. I knew they wouldn’t do the same, it’s an intimidation thing.
“Are you a PCT hiker?” He asked.
“Yep. Just got off the trail because I saw the helicopter and didn’t want to interrupt you if you were searching for a lost hiker.”
“Not a hiker. A walker. Walked away from his car. Black guy, well built, with tattoos. You see anyone like that?”
“His name’s Vincent,” another one chimes in.
I tell them I haven’t seen him, and where I came from, and assure them that I’d call 911 if I came across him. I regret not asking if he was violent or armed because not far down the road an old discarded mattress had an odd lump running the length of it. As if someone was laying under it. But this morning had been about embracing my coyote nature, so I skedaddled, getting away from the fracas.
That didn’t stop the helicopter from thoroughly checking me out twice more as I walked.
I thought about hitchhiking but 12 miles of winding trail was only 6 miles of road, max. If I got a ride I’d just be getting right out. So I just walked. No shoulder, so when cars went by I’d stand aside and wait, especially on the turns.
Then a pickup stopped for no reason. Fuck it, I thought and hopped in. James was on his way home from working his horse. He’d hiked several sections of the PCT and was glad to give me a lift. He mentioned a gas station at an intersection and I said sure. He was taking 138 through Cajon Pass and I could have gone all the way there if I’d asked, but I didn’t. I’d hike. I had nothing better to do.
He stopped in a weird location and said, “The PCT is just up that way.” But we hadn’t gone very far.
“You mentioned the gas station, and I thought the PCT came right down to 138.”
Afterward, I’d realized he’d gone too far. We passed a gas station but he didn’t stop. Then the road got winding and the trains off to the sides all looked very familiar. We’d gone way too far.
He dropped me off at McDonald’s in Cajon Pass.
Spent too much time there with no plan. Despite my lack of hunger, I walked over to Del Taco for a taco. And then a second, because I’d used so much wifi at McDonald’s my phone battery was already near dead. And there was an outlet in the outdoor dining area.
A guy, who I am assuming is living in his van, strikes up a conversation while he refills his 5-gallon jug of water from the outdoor spigot. (At least now I know where to refill my water, I thought.) The third or fourth trip he comes back and says, “Do you need any shoe inserts?” Holds up one of each of two different brands, but one left and one right.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned how quickly I have worn through socks, quality and cheap ones alike, or if I mentioned the shoe inserts I got before I started at Campo, but I’ve worn through them all. And as of yesterday, I’d worn through the sole on my left shoe, from the inside out.
So I took the left one. “God bless,” he said, after making sure that I knew about the trail angel list in the hardware store in Wrightwood. “They’ll give you a place to stay and probably cook you a home-cooked meal.”
Kinda reaffirms my whole let go, the universe will take care of you thing. If I need it, it will be there. Just don’t get too greedy. (I’m guessing.)
Then I walk back under I-15 to a stealth spot by the railroad tracks and there on the trail is a pair of men’s, large, heavy-duty socks. Dirty, but not too bad. I’ll throw them in the wash in Wrightwood before I wear them.