I got up at 6, went to collect my clothes (my wool clothes on the clothesline were still wet, of course, because it was dewy and the sun hadn’t come out yet), plugged in my electronics that needed charging, and headed out to breakfast. I met Donna and she said I could take one of the bikes. I said I didn’t mind walking (as I have had tremendous fear about riding a bike ever since I flew over the handlebars at age 12). She said that if I gathered enough people, she could take me down in the van. So, I went around asking the other hikers if they wanted to go downtown for breakfast. Bambi started running to get his stuff! Others were taking their time, in no hurry to go anywhere.
We broke into two groups at the restaurant. I sat at a table with 5-Star, Bambi, and Elizabeth (who was now going by the name Bean). We caught each other up on our most interesting trail stories, most of which revolved around the Warner Springs trail angel. I was so relieved to hear 5-Star describe his experience of staying at this guy’s house and how he texted his friend to let him know the address if he didn’t return… I have found that a lot of males brush off his behavior, but women have much more direct and unsettling experiences that really affect our hike. He was completely empathetic with me. At one point, I looked at the clock and thought it said 11:35! How can it possibly be that late already? Someone corrected me. It was actually 6:55! Apparently, along with forgetting how to look out for traffic, I had also forgotten how to read a clock!
We all ordered the breakfast special of 2 eggs, bacon, and french toast. After the waitress brought out our food and told us to “enjoy!”, I looked down at the small portions on my plate and the words, “It’s not enough for us!” spilled out of my mouth. (It wasn’t!) Elizabeth said, “Did you really just say that out loud?”. (Later, 5-Star said that was the quote of the day!). My french toast came without any butter on it and I had no fork. The service was very poor in this place. I was filled in on the stories of the older man who had started the hike the day before me, who they now called ice-cream man because he went up to a girl he didn’t know and asked if she wanted to lick his cone! Elizabeth had a lot of trials with him early on in the hike, but had finally separated from him awhile ago (he assumed she was going to be his partner for the trail and told her she should always be close by in case something happened to him). After hurting his Achilles, he had gone back home. I wasn’t surprised to hear this.
On our way back to the Saufley’s, we stopped in at the bakery to check it out. Two hikers that I had not yet met (Weeds and Icebucket) were in there, getting ready to head back to the trail. Bambi wasted no time in ordering a ham and cheese croissant, apple cobbler, and tiramisu, and ate it all immediately after his original breakfast!
We got a ride back with John Deere, who happened to be dropping off a couple of hikers. I checked the progress of my charging electronics and decided to write down a few notes about the preceding days. Some other hikers were gathering for an REI run. One of my Sawyer squeeze bags already had a leak and I was considering switching to the in-line filter system that Bambi was using, but since there was a replacement bag in the hiker box, I decided to stick with the squeezing method.
More and more hikers streamed in throughout the day. Elizabeth and I watched Donna wash out her horse’s infected hoof. This horse looked so sad because his partner had passed away just days ago! I petted him a little and told him he would be okay.
I started to walk the mile back to the restaurant for lunch when Chief’s wife offered me a ride! Nice! I ate lunch alone and then sat outside and called my friend Amanda to catch up a little. She said I sounded very happy. While I was on the phone, UB walked by! I asked Amanda if she could hold on while I called him over to get my hug!
After I hung up, some older men hanging out nearby commented on how much I was laughing while I was on the phone. I ended up joining them for awhile. I think they enjoyed having a new listener for their jokes! They had to go to a flea market, but one of them offered to give me a ride back up to the Saufley’s.
I decided to join the people sitting around and socialize a bit. Legend’s niece was passing out candy because her mother had sent her way too much! UB joined us and started going through his resupply boxes and I got an extra package of Reece’s Pieces! Just what I had been wishing for! Most of the hikers were receiving care packages from their friends and families, but I hadn’t received anything but the boxes I had packed myself. I wondered how many miles I had to hike before anyone would want to send me something. When UB got up from the table, I noticed that he had lost a lot of weight! I told him that he was looking really thin and he seemed to take a bit of offense. When Cool Ranch, who had hiked the trail last year, heard that UB had already lost 25 pounds, he told UB that he would help him go over his food and show him what he should be eating each day. That was too much weight to lose so early on in the hike! Mark joined us and the discussion turned to the book, “Wild.” Mark was not a fan…
UB and I walked back downtown to the Mexican restaurant for dinner. He was talking about his need to set records in order to continue getting support from his blog followers. He asked me if he should try to beat the record for the most miles hiked in a day. “No!” I told him. I said that he didn’t need to do anything other than hike the trail in a normal way and that he was already offering his viewers a huge gift with the videos he was producing during his hike. “It’s all about sustainability,” I said. There was no need to try to outdo anyone or kill himself trying to set crazy records.
At dinner, we talked about what it was like to experience deep depression and about how to deal with the loss of family members. He said he could talk about that stuff for hours, but that we should get back.
I spent a few moments looking at the horse and then went to my cot to sort through my food. I gave a Snickers bar to my new tent-mate, which made him really happy! The Saufley’s was now crowded with hikers. They had put up the canvas tents in the late afternoon to accommodate everyone. I was growing more and more antsy to get back on the trail and keep ahead of the “herd”. I found Cool Ranch and El Capitan helping UB with his food. Cool Ranch told him that what he was eating was not nearly enough for his body’s requirements and that if he didn’t drastically change his diet, he would end up in the hospital, unable to finish his hike. He told him that he was lucky to have friends like me who cared enough about him to tell him he wasn’t looking so good. Cool Ranch suggested he cut back his mileage for a little while until he felt more comfortable with cooking meals and eating more often.
We had been expecting Muk Muk to show up at any moment. It was nearly 11pm, when she and PacMan rolled in! She was so happy to see UB! We chatted a bit and she told us about feeling the hairs stand up on her arms while she was hiking through the Vasquez Rocks area. Pacman apparently saw a mountain lion standing on a rock watching them! We both did not like that place!
I headed back to my cot to catch a little sleep.