Kick-off plus one mile
Muk Muk and I met up for the bagels being handed out and then headed over to Dr. Sole’s, laughing the whole way there. While we ate breakfast, we discussed our options for getting a ride back to the trailhead. There was a ride board, but there were tons of people looking for rides to Warner Springs and only a couple of drivers headed there whose cars were already full. I suggested we ask Leanne when she was headed back and if she had room. We then headed out to start our day, as I had my second yoga session to teach, and she had to work at the Dirty Girl gaiter booth again. While I was at my tent, trying to change, I saw the trail angel in my campsite, asking for me. The girls pointed to my tent. He made a comment about not needing to take my clothes off and then asked when I would be ready to leave. He said that he had been sitting with Muk Muk at the registration area last night and that they had both told each other that they were “done” with this. (Actually, she was done with you!). I told him that I wasn’t sure what seminars I wanted to go to and he took his pocket schedule out and started going through the list. “You don’t need to go to this. There’s no snow.” (In fact, yes, I do need to go to that!). I told him that I needed to get ready for my yoga class and he made a comment about letting me wake up. He also said his back was hurting and that he probably wouldn’t attend my session today.
I headed down to the lake, and this time was joined by about 25 or 26 others. It was my biggest yoga class yet! I ended up leading them for close to an hour and a half and it was probably more physical than they needed at that point, but it seemed well-received. A couple more people came up to me afterwards. One lady wanted to know where I was trained and who my favorite teachers were. Another man lingered after everyone had left and said that he was in a different mental place after the session- in a good way! I was happy to hear that. My bandaids would not stick to my open blisters, so I had a painful walk back. I checked in with Muk Muk at her booth and she asked if I could be the one who asked Leanne for a ride. (I really don’t like doing these kinds of things, but I agreed). I also met Chris, who also desperately needed a ride back to Warner Springs. We all thought he could ride with the trail angel and he wanted me to ask about that, too (since the guy clearly favored women). He held his hands up in prayer and thanked me.
I headed over to listen to part 2 of Ned Tibbets talk, which was a lot of repetition from the day before. I wanted to stay until the end (the guy can talk for hours!), but I had to gather together everything that I did not want to carry in my pack, such as my yoga clothes, and ship them back home at the mobile post office before they left. I backed away slowly, trying to take in every last piece of information that I could.
I made it to the post office in time, got to see a bit of the gear contest in which a Swedish hiker was showing off his carved wooden spoon, and then headed over to the geology talk. I sat next to Abby, who had attended one of my yoga sessions, and we talked about why we were hiking the PCT. The talk wasn’t holding either of our attentions, so we made our way out. I was feeling extremely tired. I managed to find Leanne and she said that she and her husband were planning on leaving sometime after the burger dinner and that they did have room for me and Muk Muk! I went back to my campsite to break down my tent and pack everything up. Muk Muk and I met back up at Dr. Sole’s. She was so worried about the trail angel hunting her down. I kept telling her that she could stay in the RV and that Dr. Sole would protect her. He ended up giving her one of his hats to wear as a disguise. She wanted to take a shower before dinner and then we waited in line for the burgers, wanting to get ours as fast as possible and then run back to Dr. Sole’s RV. While we were in line, the trail angel started calling out for Muk Muk, scanning the lines of people for her! I kept my eye on him and would duck down and move to the right or to the left, hiding behind the people in front of us. The guy behind us wanted to know what was going on and when I mentioned the trail angel’s name, he understood right away! Everyone seemed to know about this guy, and yet, I had heard nothing before actually being there in person! I didn’t think that was cool. We managed to avoid being seen, grabbed our burgers and ran out of the area. Muk Muk didn’t even want to take the time to add the condiments she wanted to her burger. We ate inside the RV, our stomachs still filled with dread. We wanted to get out of there and back on the trail! I went back to find Leanne and ask when they were leaving. She said as soon as they finished their burgers. I told her where we would be and returned to the RV. We waited and waited, but no one was coming. Then, a truck stopped along the road and the driver waved. I waved back, not realizing who it was! It was the trail angel! Of course Leanne told him where we were! Our stomachs hit the ground. He told Dr. Sole that he had come for the free samples of soap he was giving away. Muk Muk and I knew better… As he stared at Muk Muk’s name tag that Dr. Sole was now wearing, Muk Muk told him that we were getting a ride back with Leanne, but that Chris was looking for a ride. She tried calling him, but he didn’t answer. The trail angel didn’t seem at all interested in helping Chris out. Muk Muk excused herself and headed to the bathroom and I was left to say goodbye to him. It was a rather pitiful sight to see him walk away with his head down.
Darkness was falling and still, there was no sign of Leanne. We had a long drive to even get back to the trailhead and then we had to hike a bit… I saw Cookie Monster and chatted with him for a bit, and he tried to calm me, telling me that if they didn’t show up, we would get a ride another way. Finally, our ride appeared and we stuffed our packs and ourselves inside an already stuffed car. Poor Muk Muk had to hold her heavy pack on her lap the entire time. As we drove out of the campground, everyone seemed to be staring at our car. I wondered why until I realized that Leanne’s husband had his arm out the car and was frantically waving to everyone he saw! He then started yelling, “Byyeeee!!!” to every person he saw in a loud and strange voice. Muk Muk and I couldn’t believe it…
Finally we were out of the campground and onto the road! We passed a small gas station and then, oddly, turned back and pulled in! Nooo…! The trail angel was filling up on gas there! We couldn’t escape him! He asked Leanne’s husband if we wanted to let our packs ride with him…”No. We’re fine.” Luckily, Muk Muk had decided at the last minute to bring all of her things with her to kick-off- everything but her tortillas that she had left in his freezer. Fortunately, Dr. Sole had some extra tortillas in his freezer, so that problem was resolved. We headed out again. I was so tired and my stomach was hurting, so I closed my eyes. Muk Muk wasn’t feeling so good, either. Then, we found ourselves taking a long side road… Where were we going? I asked and the driver said he needed gas. (Why didn’t he fill up back at the gas station we were at?? Everything was so strange!). It was a long side trip! Later, we were in a line waiting to be questioned by border control. Muk Muk and I looked at each other. Where were we and where were they taking us? I started to worry that they were taking us back to the border! Again, I asked and was reassured that we were headed to Warner Springs.
Once we got close, they asked us if we wanted to head to the trail angels house with them. No… We would like to start hiking, please! So, they let us off on the side of the road in complete darkness, said our goodbyes, loaded our packs on and then opened the gate leading to the trail. I saw a light ahead and assumed it was another hiker’s headlamp. Maybe we can camp with them! I was so tired that I just wanted to set up my tent and go to sleep. Muk Muk, however, really wanted to get as far away from the trail angel as possible so he couldn’t find her. The light did not belong to another hiker after all and we kept walking. My headlamp was not strong enough to see anything, so Muk Muk lead and I relied on her and her headlamp. The sky was purple and the stars were amazing! We saw a pair of shining eyes to our left and then discovered that they belonged to a horse! There were many of them! They seemed to be attracted to our headlights and would come toward us, but upon discovering what the headlamps were attached to, they quickly turned and ran away. I found the experience to be quite magical. Muk Muk kept being startled by scary bugs that she saw crawling on our path. There were spiders all over the place and then a centipede! I told her I was glad I couldn’t see anything! Then, a rat ran straight toward her! She screamed even louder, which made me scream. And then they both got scared and jumped into the grass on the right side of the trail. We broke down in fits of laughter. I told her at least she was wearing pants!
Soon, we came to a sandy area and I saw a spot under a big tree that looked like a good place to set up camp. Muk Muk agreed. I had quite the time trying to set up my tent, though! The stakes I had (meant for snow and sand) would not stay in the ground! My pole support fell over again and again. I was so tired, and so frustrated. Muk Muk had set her tent up in a matter of minutes with ease. By the time I got into my sleeping bag, it was after 11pm. A stake flew out of the ground and the walls became soft and floppy. At least the tent managed to stay upright.