Pro of the desert: so many towns and services to help you along the way. Con of the desert: as a sobo you are in good enough shape to hit vortex potential every damn day.
From Deep Creek it is *only* 33 miles until a road that leads to the town of Big Bear Lakes. Also all uphill… Just 5000 feet gain. No problem. Seriously. Even with full packs and long water carries. We are super heros now. Also Groucho and Future Dad decide it’s “grouchy the Grouch’s SOBO sweep” – a challenge we issue to all SOBOs to do a turn at litter pick up. So in addition to packs we carry trash today. All in all they will carry out 10lbs of rubbish. I find a full can of Bud Lite, which Groucho shotguns it before breakfast. My shoes are the Bain of my existence and I feel pain all day.
By 6pm we are in town and it is still light out. I told you… We are super heros.
We are swept to motel 6 where $120 can procure you 2 immaculate, adjoining rooms with cable, showers and 4 Queensized beds. We also have excellent vegan food at the Himalayan restaurant. Heaven. Everyone orders vegetarian except Huck who eats a baby sheep.
Groucho and I find excellent cheap breakfast across the street at Broadway Cafe. The group packs up and Future Dad hits the trail. We are close to a fire closure which he decides to bush whack thru to preserve his continuous footpath plan… We will skip some of these closed miles and can leave more leisurely. Twinless hits the bus terminal to get to LAX so she can attend a wedding in Minnesota. The group is splitting for a time. The rest of us blog at Starbucks until rain starts up. Perfect excuse to town vortex. So we do – Groucho’s parents have sent us a little loot which we use for a hotel room… Returning to the motel just as thunder and storms wreak havoc on the PCT spreading landslides and mudslides from Lake Hughes to Tehachipi. Cable features Harry Potter and we procure a bottle of Sparkling Wine. Thru hiking is feeling easy.
This morning is rough. I wake at the customary hour of 6am but everyone else is snoring and off gassing. By 7:30 everyone shows signs of life but are still silently looking at their phones. I want to hike, so I pack up. At 8am, Huck asks “what are you doing? What time are you going?” And I reply… I’d like to go soon. That’s my preference. It fits the schedule to meet up with future dad And Twinless in a few days down in Idyllwild. I’m invested in that. I ask the remaining three what they’d like to do. Bug says whatever everyone else likes to do. Huck looks at his phone. Groucho goes to the toilet. I am suddenly uncomfortable, realizing that the two other type-A planners of our group have deserted me and I am alone here with people who just want to hike but not necessarily plan it.
I get it. It’s a huge mantra “hike your own hike.” But for over 600 miles we’ve been a team. … Even longer with Huck. And suddenly their possible disinterest in group dynamics hangs in the air and I flail. “I’m feeling frustrated because I have stated my desires, and ask you all what you want and just feel ignored.” Huck explains “you like to plan… Sometimes weeks ahead. That makes me anxious. I am deciding right now what to do.” Bug pipes up… “Oh… Can we get burritos?” I feel crestfallen. Groucho and I have already eaten. I am ready to walk. But we either wait for these guys and preserve this half of wrong way gang… Or we hike alone in the hopes of meeting the other half of the gang on schedule. I feel irrationally trapped by this dilemma. I excuse myself to the hotel lobby for coffee.
As we return to the room, bug and Huck are leaving for Burritos. I’m going crazy with impatience and Groucho is moody so I should leave the room I go to brunch ordering $1 hash browns because I’m starting to go broke with all the town stops.
But by 11am we are packed and headed back to trail. We trail run the first 9 miles to make up time. Huck gets lost immediately. Not exactly lost, since he finds a road to traverse that intersects with the PCT. His intuition and navigations always astound. But it rattles me a little because today the AT community mourns the discovery of the remains of hiker Inchworm… Who went missing 1 day after we met her on the AT two years ago. She somehow got a few miles off trail that rainy day and was lost forever on a mountain in Maine. RIP inch worm.
The next 14 miles I hike with Bug. She says it’s like a long therapy session as she discusses life and love and thru hiking. It’s nice sharing some emotional time.
We reach the road by Onyx Summit at dark and it is blustery and lighting but Huck has warm pizza from town. We pitch our tarp as rain falls. In the desert.