Home > Hiking Trails > Hitchhiking to Cajon, CA

Motel 6, Cajon, CA.

How I got here is, well, I don’t know what a fire break is. That and I have blisters on the bottom of both feet, it rained all night last night, and I’m not sure if hiking is my thing.

To be honest I do this every time. There’s so much that I could be doing. The adventure, the travel, is great but…

So I hiked into Lake Cayamaca yesterday. Nice hike, Rancho Cayamaca was some nice country. At the general store it was going to be expensive to pick up food so I just ordered the breakfast special instead, the Cayamaca Omlete.

The waitress filled my water bottle after I’d downed four large glasses of water with breakfast.

Maybe the desert did dehydrate me a little more than I wanted to admit.

The hike out was slow due to downed trees across the trail. Dead standing trees that looked to have been blown down in the last storm to come through at the beginning of the month. Then it was miles of a quiet, winding road walk. I took a break at the fire station, but wasn’t sure if this was the one that would let you refill your water bottle, it wasn’t in my notes or marked in the GPX file.

The GPX file on my phone was something I’d never done before. I was getting the hang of it and surprised at how little battery power it seemed to draw with the location function on all day to track my progress and double check that I was still on trail.

Through the Inaja Indian Reservation into backcountry trails in the National Forrest. Signs saying that the trail isn’t maintained or patrolled, hike at your own risk. Hiking further it really did feel like I was a long way from civilization. The trail was an old road that had been left to nature. It felt abandoned, almost apocalyptic.

Once again I came across the perfect campsite. Off the trail on a grassy area next to the only river I’d seen in a long time. I had a perfect amount of time to set up my tent, relax, and prepare for the rain that I was sure was coming.

Instead I told myself to keep hiking.

Uphill less than a mile I was sweating. Downhill less than two miles later and I was done. Not a great spot, on the side of the mountain, but I could make it work. Why do I always push on after finding the perfect spot? And for only a few more miles?

It rained all night.

No room for my tent, I was cowboy camping. Pulled my tarp over me like a blanket, opened my umbrella and put the handle in my armpit so it would cover me without having to hold it. That’s how I slept.

The rain stopped in the morning and I packed quick just in case it decided to start up again. I was dry but the tarp didn’t do the best job. The bivy under it was wet, and parts of my sleeping bag near the top were wet as well. I had no choice but to pack everything wet and hope that I’d get a chance to dry them out later.

And of course I was out of water.

There was a water spigot, I hate that word, and a bathroom at the trailhead a couple miles away, but that was a climb. Sweating, I thought it was taking me all day. According to my notes there was tacos and a liquor store another two miles away on the trail. But I wasn’t sure that there was an official trail. It seemed like the GPX file was one persons version of the trail that differed slightly from another persons notes that I was using.

Then I got off trail by following the trail.

I wasn’t paying attention to the GPX because the trail was so obvious. Unfortunately I was supposed to get off the trail and bushwack cross country following a firebreak. By the time I realized this I was in the back end of an upscale residential neighborhood.

Bushwacking through wet brush for several miles just didn’t sound like fun. I pulled up Google Maps and decided to raodwalk around and catch the trail later. Boy did I feel out of place in that neighborhood. It also struck me as a waste, as suburban neighborhoods usually do. So much land wasted, so many resources used. It was garbage day, and even that seemed like a waste of effort.

The people all had their status symbols, big house, big trucks, too good to look at you never mind say good morning. I get it. You’re rich, you waste a lot to show off. You earned your money so gluttony as a lifestyle is justified.

Anyway, I crossed the plaza with the tacos and liquor store. And when I checked the GPX file I was nowhere near the trail. So I had Huevos Rancheros and waited for the drizzle and sprinkling rain to stop.

There were two ways back to the trail. Wildcat Canyon RD. was the closest, the other option was to walk all the way to Poway and skip a bunch of the trail.

I didn’t feel like doing either.

I had planned on walking, or maybe hitching into Poway but by the time I got to Wildcat Canyon Rd. I’d set my mind to getting to the Motel 6 in El Cajon. Well over twenty miles away and it was already noon. It seemed impossible, but I felt like this was where I was going to end up.

I stuck out my thumb and the first car was a single white lady in a BMW who didn’t want to look at me. This was going to be impossible.

The second vehicle was a truck, and it felt like this was my ride, only he didn’t stop. He slowed a little, then pulled over slightly, then kept going. It was like he was thinking about it. He eventually stopped, further away than any hitch I’ve ever had.

“Please don’t drive away,” I kept thinking as I ran to the truck with my pack to catch up.

“I never pick up hitchhikers,” he said, then drove me to within a few blocks of the Motel 6.

I’m guessing that he was of local Native American descent, his accent was thick enough that I didn’t catch his name. He was a diesel mechanic on his way to work, which I’m guessing he owned. He told me about the area and asked about back east. Despite getting along it seemed as if he couldn’t figure out why he picked me up.

“I thought maybe it was going to rain, or maybe it was just my good deed for the day…”

Whatever it was I thanked him. I was in El Cajon before 1pm. Too early to check into the motel. So I splurged on a chocolate frosty to try and get rid of my craving for ice cream.

They let me check in at 2pm. I picked up a half gallon of milk, some snack cakes, a 2 liter bottle of root beer (double check the fine print on the price at Food 4 Less) and a small bottle of whiskey.

I washed my socks in the sink. My underwear when I took a shower, drank and relaxed.

Man that was nice.

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