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Day 5: Friends?

Day 5: Friends?

hiker.dykes Apr 27th, 2024
hiker.dykes's 2024 PCT Thru-Hike

Scissors Crossing (77.0) - Tentsite (91.2) | Mileage: 14.2 + 1.0 (Down to the water cache)

I woke up just after 6 again (finally a morning person! or maybe just still on eastern time) but stayed in bed (i.e., the sheet covered couch) for another hour listening to the big guy in the actual bed snore because it was so nice to be warm and snuggle against Katie without slipping onto the ground between the inflatable sleep pads. Everyone was really slow to get out which surprised me, but maybe town days are different. We hung around and packed up the stuff we had left out to dry and Katie braided my hair on a stool in the little white kitchen and we headed into town a little after 8. We just started chugging up the main road, switching sides of the street to be on the outside of each curve when a RAV4 with a PCT sticker pulled to a stop up ahead. The trail angel offered us a ride into town, so we threw out packs into the trunk and she told us how her niece worked at the inn and learned about the hikers and asked her to let them camp in her yard and then she fell in love with it and has been hosting people and giving rides ever since.

We stood on the sidewalk outside the little grocery store looking at options for breakfast. Apparently in a very cute and approachable way because within a few minutes, two men separately came up to us asking about the PCT season. The first told us all about the golden trout in the Sierra and the second said he tried to hike the PCT a few years ago but dropped out due to blisters and heat after the first 150 miles. The conversation puttered out awkwardly so we turned and went the street hoping to avoid another encounter, but the man called us back and said good luck and pressed a $20 bill into my hand.

We had a veggie scramble and a breakfast burrito and a coffee at Julian Cafe & Bakery, which was this super old timey miner town saloon looking diner with gigantic portions. Mick and Wayne walked in a few minutes after us (shocker) and slid into our booth. I think maybe we have a trail family? It might be the most unlikely group (two 24-year-old American lesbians and two middle-aged men from New Zealand who met on the bus on Monday and have since been attached at the hip), but they’re both so sweet and respectful and positive and so much better than all of the other men. It probably won’t last because they both have other places to be this summer, but we laugh every time they roll up and it’s really nice to feel like we have a home.

We grabbed two tomatoes (excellent when consumed whole like an apple) and four more bars from the grocery, and then hitched from behind the gear shop where all of the trail angels stop. Mini took us in her white Mini Cooper and said she lives in San Diego and is planning to hike the trail in the future, so she spends her weekends shuttling hikers between Julian and Scissors Crossing to pay it forward. She asked about our work and lives and dropped us off with clementines. Trail angel is an understatement.

And then we were back at it, smelling fresh and clean for approximately 10 minutes before the sun and the hills and the dust did their thing. We started seeing this huge bulbous green cactus today that has long talon-like spikeys running around the outside and a ring of yellow or pink flowers around the top. They looks so much like those green and blue anemone that squirt water when threatened that I keep thinking we’re floating just above the sea floor.

The hood of my sun shirt keeps blowing off my head in the wind and it’s super irritating. Its designed to fit over a climbing helmet which would be convenient except that I only wear a baseball cap here. I pull the drawstrings tight so it scrunches around my head but I look like a noob and it still falls off in the wind or it pushes my sunglasses against my head and hurts. I also have minor thigh chafe and a hot spot under my left pinky toe but I think we’re in really good shape compared to everyone else.

Sometime in the last few days, we learned from the trail markers that the PCT is officially called the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. I finally understand why. Just like the scenic drives in national parks, the trail rides in and out along the ridges of the foothills, winding high enough to show off excellent views of the surrounding valleys and mountains, but never quite cresting. The gentle grade makes it pretty fast and easy to walk, but I bet you could trim hundreds of miles if it just went up and over and down and up again. It’s really beautiful but sometimes it gets kind of monotonous and boring when you wind around and around the same foothills like a track on repeat.

We had pretty low expectations, but the campsite we ended up at was excellent. Think lots of green separating the sites, stunning views of the mountains, busy but not crowded, and lots of people cowboy camping because the weather was finally nice. We sat in the dirt with Madi (learned she played soccer at UCF which was not surprising) and the most wholesome tramily consisting of a mom and her 16-year-old daughter from Colorado, a woman from New Mexico who was probably slightly older than us, and two youngish men. They all were super sweet to us and seemed to stick together and share in a way we haven’t seen yet. New Mexico told us that a few nights ago, she was camping up on the ridge and heard mountain lions chirping and roaring right outside her tent, which she can identify with perfect accuracy due to growing up in rural New Mexico. I wondered how many lions I’d heard and thought were birds. Katie was distracted and the couscous boiled over and got sticky everywhere and then little ants got all up in the propane which was really sad and gross. Also a box of couscous is not quite enough food on its own.

We walked down to the water cache (several wooden palettes loaded with plastic water bottles and a big pen to recycle the empty bottles) and it there were so many wildflowers and cacti and everything was a pretty in the setting sun. Then we brushed our teeth and crawled into the tent and the night was still and quiet and safe.

I realized we haven’t seen Maybe Joe who has the same sun shirt as me since Lake Morena. But he seemed cool and I expected him to be our speed so that’s too bad. Maybe we’ll see him ahead at Idyllwild.

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