mile 328.5-342.5 (McDonald’s)
I woke up to find my “friend” staring at me from his table. I covered my face up with my sleeping bag and stayed there for a couple of minutes before getting up. Last night, when I asked him why he couldn’t hike with us today, he said he had to get back to LA to iron his clothes before his training tomorrow. I was astounded. Iron his clothes?! He couldn’t do that in the evening?
For some reason, he let me lead him through a little yoga before we parted. The grass was very wet and it was cool out, so I wore my rain pants and jacket. That way, I could stay dry! It was his first time trying yoga, so I kept it the basics, but it ended up being a bit too repetitive. All of the hikers who stayed overnight had by now hit the trail. As I finished packing, my friend was visibly growing more and more antsy to get going. I walked to his car with him, which was parked quite a distance away, beyond where the trail left off. It was amusing to see his gigantic toiletries in the trunk. I don’t like saying goodbye in the first place, and when factoring in the upsetting circumstances, my tears couldn’t be contained. I looked at my hands after I wiped my eyes and noticed that even my tears were filled with dirt! He said something about what I needed to do to finish the trail and I brushed it off, saying that I wasn’t worried at all. “But this trail is different than the AT. Snow is involved.” I shrugged. Since the start of this hike, I never once questioned my ability to finish. He told me to let him know if I needed him to send me a package and we gave each other a hug goodbye. Then, he drove me the short distance back to the trail head with heavy music blaring from the radio. It was all so upsetting. (Another thing that I hoped for was that he could take us to sushi instead of having to eat at McDonald’s, which added to the disappointment).
I was left to resume my hike alone. I had missed the opportunity to climb while it was still cool out. The sun was already burning down on me. He had said that there was a nice view from the top, but I didn’t find it so amazing. I looked for a spot of shade to take a break and didn’t see anything. Another guy had reached the top and probably thought I looked confused. He suggested I could walk a bit off trail to some trees. I ended up doing that, but decided I had better keep going.
It was a long descent. A couple of other guys passed me as I took short breaks. On and on, I walked. And then, I saw the sign pointing to McDonald’s. I took a picture and sent it to my friend. (He did not respond).
I was almost done with my hiking for the day, as in my planning, I had chosen to have my resupply box sent to the Best Western off the interstate rather than Wrightwood. I walked along the road to the McDonald’s and found a huge group of hikers sitting under an awning on the grass next to McDonald’s!
After stopping to say hello, I went in for something to eat. I had no ravenous hiker hunger, so I ordered something modest and sat alone to eat it. This isn’t what I had imagined.
I went back outside to join the others and Dinnertime told me that our friend had just left here a little while ago after making a stop here and finding a hiker to talk with. I couldn’t believe it…
The others joked about coming back to the hotel with me to use the pool. I eventually went in search of the hotel and said goodbye to the others. While I was crossing the road, an orange car pulled into the gas station and asked, “PCT”? and then said, “Yeah!”. I walked along the highway, over a bridge, and turned into the parking lot leading to the Best Western. All of a sudden, a car pulled in right behind me! It was the guy in the orange car. He said that he didn’t mean to stalk me, but he and his friends were looking for a 4th person to climb Denali with in August. He assumed I would probably still be hiking then, but thought he would give it a shot anyway. I told him that I wouldn’t be finished until sometime in September. Before he sped off, he reached over to the passenger seat and handed me a king sized bag of skittles. “Sugar!” he said. I smiled and thanked him. It was a bright spot in an otherwise very difficult day.
I checked into my room, got my resupply box, took a shower, and started rinsing out my clothes. I was going to find the washing machine, but was suddenly overcome by a tremendous feeling of tiredness and lied down on the bed. I quickly fell asleep.
My friend had posted on facebook that he had played disc golf in Wrightwood before heading back to LA.
When I woke up, I went to the lobby to find out where the washing machine was and was asked by a couple of older hikers if I would like to join them for dinner. They were heading to Subway across the street. I walked over with them and order a sub, and we brought the food back to eat at a table in the lobby. The entire time I sat there with them, I felt so disconnected and lonely.
After putting my clothes in the dryer, I went out to sit in the hot tub- the reason why I had chosen this place to stay over Wrightwood. I couldn’t sit there long, however, because I needed to organize all of my stuff and start packing for an early start tomorrow. We had another huge exposed climb and were advised not to hike it during the day.