Miles: 4.75 (+ lots of walking around town)
Camping: PCT mile 656.05
Hikers seen on trail: 0
Johnny was already gone when I woke up, but I let myself sleep in. He is on his way to Kennedy Meadows, and I am going into town for supplies. It feels kind of liberating to be alone again, I can do whatever I please without considering someone else’s opinion. The entire day would be mine, and I loved it.
I wandered over to the road at about 6:30 and scared up a ride pretty fast. Three men from the town of Ridgecrest were on their way to go fishing in Kernville, and they were happy to bring me to Onyx, an easier spot to catch a ride into Lake Isabella. My next ride was also fast, an older man named Charles who told me that he was just reunited with his daughter after 38 years. He raised his other 4 kids on his own and has 17 grandkids. Charles grows a garden, loves to cook, and he’s a spring chicken at 60! I asked him to drop me at the restaurant with the biggest and best breakfast, which turned out to be a diner called “The Dam Corner.” I think there is a dam somewhere, but I never saw it.
When I walked in, the waitress said, “here we go,” in an exasperated voice, “hikers.”I felt immediately uncomfortable, but resolved myself to be as sweet as possible and change her attitude. She was actually quite nice when she came around, and complimented my ability to order food without her needing to ask me questions about how to cook my eggs and all that. I know what I want, and I ate a kings ransom worth of breakfast. It is my favorite indulgence, always.
Next, I wandered over to the motel where they were holding some packages for me. The owner was super friendly, I loved him immediately. He handed me my boxes and I apologized that I wouldn’t be paying for a room since I came in so early. He never batted an eyelash, and continued smiling, completely unconcerned with that detail. I decided to ask if I could possibly use the shower in one of the rooms that hadn’t been cleaned, and he agreed wholeheartedly. He wouldn’t accept any money either, but I slipped him a 5 anyway. One of my packages hadn’t arrived, so he went to the post office to look for it while I showered. What a guy!!
I had a special box from my Aunt and Uncle in Colorado too! In it was 2 pairs of socks (just in the nick of time-see pic below), plus 2 Sunday NYT crossword puzzles! I haven’t done a puzzle since I started the trail, and if you know me, that’s a long time! I’m eager to begin chipping away…except I’ve lost my pen. A minor setback that is easily remedied. Thank you Pam & Craig! You guys are great!
After errands I went and had a cheeseburger and milkshake at a spot recommended by a friend who hiked in 2007. It was a great treat, and I was almost sickly full afterwards. Trying to hitch out of town afterward turned into a headache, and some girl flipped me off angrily. She must really hate hitchhikers, or just hikers, or just me. I thought it quite strange, but ultimately felt sorry for her. Realizing it was a tough spot, I opted to take the bus to the next town where more traffic would be directed in the direction I wanted to go. The bus was almost an hour late, and I began to wonder if I’d made the wrong decision. I wanted to hike 10 miles tonight to make the next couple of days a bit easier, but the later the bus, the less daylight. I told myself to just go with the flow, this is how today is going and it’s been a good day. I get too anxious when things don’t go as planned, so I decided to work on that and let today unfold as it would.
When the bus finally did arrive, it was packed, and I’d have to stand. I took a deep breath and boarded anyway. The driver let me stow my pack up front, and as it turned out there were two hikers I hadn’t met before sitting in the back. I went to stand near them, and we chatted most of the way (until a seat opened up front). Grandpa is from Israel, and McButter is from Portland. I liked them right away.
The ride was interesting to say the least. It was long and full of locals who all seemed to know each other. A scraggly toothless man asked me to party with him tonight, but I declined. It wasn’t long after that uncomfortable exchange that the 3 of us hikers were let out on the side of the highway. We promptly began our hitch, though with not a lot of traffic, we were quickly losing more daylight. After about 30 minutes, a man passed us and turned around to give all of us a ride.
With little light left, we hiked a short 4.75 miles to camp. There McButter and I cowboy camped and Grandpa set up his tent. The hike was beautiful, right at sunset. The temperature was perfect, and the mountains lined up for miles creating a two-dimensional effect. I enjoy the company of my new companions, and we seem to have fell together naturally. We will see how tomorrow goes, it’s supposed to be over 100…ugh!